If you suffered from alcoholism or have lived with someone who struggles with alcohol, you understand firsthand how detrimental and life-altering this disease can be. Alcohol abuse not only affects the health and well-being of the person consuming the substance but family members and friends involved usually get the short end of the stick as well.
Alcoholism can ruin friendships, family relationships, job opportunities, and an array of other aspects of a person’s life. Finding the correct treatment needed to help an individual stop drinking and develop a healthier way of living is important. Understanding what alcoholism is and what steps needed to be taken in order for yourself or a loved one to get help can make the process of getting sober much easier.
What is alcoholism?
Alcoholism was officially recognized as an illness in 1956 by the American Medical Association. Their findings concluded that consuming large amounts of alcohol can result in an addiction to alcohol which in turn has negative effects on the structure and function of the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 90,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths each year in the United States. Alcoholism also significantly reduces the life span of individuals who consume large amounts and is classified as a disease for the following characteristics:
- Alcoholism is a disease that does not go away
- Signs or symptoms are easily recognizable
- The disease can progress and get worse
- Relapse is very common
- Poor decision making
- Erratic behavior
When an individual consumes large amounts of alcohol for a significant amount of time, this will consequently have a negative impact on their health, both mentally and physically. If an individual suddenly stops drinking, he or she will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can be extremely uncomfortable and deadly. Millions of people drink alcohol each year, some more heavily than others. It is unlikely having a few drinks here and there will cause withdrawal symptoms to appear, but you should always be careful not to start developing a tolerance.
When a person needs to start consuming more alcohol to produce the same effect that they initially got from drinking, they have developed a tolerance which leads to more drinking, unknowingly leading to addiction. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms will be different for each individual based on how much and how often they consumed the substance. These symptoms generally range from moderate to severe and can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased heart rate
- Delerium Tremens
If you start developing any of the symptoms listed above, seeking out medical attention is highly recommended. Some of the worst withdrawal symptoms such as seizures and delirium tremens can be deadly if not properly addressed.
If an individual wants to achieve sobriety from alcoholism, there are a few steps they will need to take. There is no cure on record for this disease, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD) but with the help of professionals and addiction treatment programs, individuals who suffer from alcoholism or other substance abuse-related disorders have a great chance at remaining sober.
Detoxification, also known as the withdrawal process, is the process of the human body ridding itself of toxic waste left over from alcohol or drug use. Generally, before an individual is allowed to enter a substance abuse treatment program, they are required to successfully complete a detox program.
At detox, the individual suffering from alcoholism will be monitored by medical professionals around the clock to ensure the client is as safe as possible. The detoxification process can be dangerous due to the side negative side effects of alcohol withdrawal. Often times trained staff will administer “comfort meds” to patients who are having a difficult time, but some side effects are unavoidable and the detoxification process will just have to happen naturally. Detoxing from heavy alcohol use is no fun but once the process is complete the individual will feel much better, ready to start the next leg of the journey which will involve an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Inpatient treatment facilities oftentimes include a detox program although some addicts will go to a facility specifically designated for detoxification then navigate to a treatment program afterward. An inpatient treatment program consists of clients living on-site for an extended period of time, on average around 30 days. Here the individual will live in a safe, structured environment and partake in various types of therapy and counseling sessions. There are many benefits of inpatient treatment programs which include:
- High success rate
- No outside distractions
- A sense of community
- 24/7 support and supervision
- Relapse prevention
- Safety is a priority
- Aftercare planning
If you have struggled with addiction towards alcoholism, inpatient treatment will more than likely be your best treatment option due to how thorough and structured these types of programs are. It gives clients the ability to focus directly on the underlying reasons which initially led them down the path of addiction and learn new coping mechanisms for the future.
Outpatient treatment, also known as intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) offers more flexibility when compared to inpatient treatment programs by allowing the individual to attend counseling and therapy sessions a few times a week while still adhering to family and work responsibilities. Outpatient treatment programs are a great option for individuals who want to address their addiction to alcohol but may not have developed a severe addiction thus far. If an individual is not experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, this type of treatment option is best.
Outpatient treatment programs are oftentimes used as a stepping stone for addicts in recovery by transitioning from inpatient to outpatient treatment. It provides a sort of safety net to help prevent relapse after completing treatment.
At Knoxville Recovery Center we offer both inpatient and outpatient treatment options. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction towards alcoholism, do not hesitate to reach out today. Our highly trained and certified staff will help guide our clients from the moment they walk through our doors and continue doing so after they leave. We have firsthand experience dealing with addiction and understand how sobriety can genuinely be life-changing.