Alcohol Abuse & Addiction Rehab Treatments
Alcoholism is a very difficult to disease to overcome, and it is important to use the best strategies possible to quit drinking. Alcoholics should not try to go it alone, because their chances of relapse increase greatly if they don’t have help.
Therefore alcoholics should attend rehab, either inpatient or outpatient or both consecutively.
Alcoholics should also attend Alcoholics Anonymous and join a community of like-minded people seeking recovery, especially since AA’s 12-step program is widely used in rehab centers worldwide. Let’s discuss the recovery journey and the rehab resources for each step of the way.
The first step in alcohol rehabilitation is the detoxification stage, where the toxins introduced by alcohol consumption leave the body and the brain readjusts to an alcohol-free neurochemical equilibrium. It is very important that heavy drinkers detoxify under medical supervision, since acute alcohol withdrawals can be deadly.
Inpatient rehab centers, where patients typically stay within a facility for a period of 30-90 days, will have medical professionals available 24 hours a day to treat the withdrawal symptoms and deal with any serious medical issues. Medications may be prescribed and administered to help the patient cope with withdrawal symptoms.
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Many health insurance plans cover inpatient rehab stays and employers often have programs which allow for inpatient rehab stays or even help pay for them. Those seeking to quit drinking should be sure to research their various inpatient rehab options and choose the one that fits their needs best.
Inpatient rehab is ideal for early alcohol rehabilitation because the discomfort and pain caused by withdrawals make it very tempting for the former drinker to ease the withdrawals with a drink. In inpatient rehab, the former drinker will be in a completely alcohol-free environment surrounded by well-trained and supportive staff, as well as other patients who know exactly what they’re going through.
Quitting alcohol after long-term heavy drinking usually involves several days of suffering, both mentally and physically, and the benefit of being in the proper environment during this period cannot be overstated.
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Inpatient rehab usually involves a structured schedule of a few group meetings a day, regular meetings with a counselor, therapist, and/or doctor, and regular visiting hours to meet with friends or family. In inpatient rehab, the former drinker will learn about and develop the tools they need to cope with stressful situations and other various triggers which put them at risk for a relapse.
The former drinker will have the opportunity to evaluate the decisions they had been making during their active addiction and make a plan for change with the guidance of a counselor and the group meetings.
Patients may be encouraged to get started on a 12-step program and given appropriate guidance. The entire program is designed to help the former drinker stay sober when they are finally released into the outside world.
For drinkers with less severe abuse issues, those who need a flexible rehab schedule, or drinkers who have already completed inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab is a less intensive but still highly effective means of alcohol rehabilitation.
For outpatient rehab, the patient lives at home, but has several treatment meetings and appointments every day or night. There is flexibility which allows the former drinker to attend work or classes and still stay on track with their recovery. Daily AA meetings or regular appointments with a counselor who specializes in alcohol abuse are incorporated into most outpatient programs.
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A patient entering an outpatient program can expect a 10-15-hour weekly commitment (there are programs where most of the day is spent in a rehab facility, however) and for the program to take one month to a year.
The patient will be living in the real world and exposed to all its stressors and temptations, which is why inpatient rehab is preferable for those with the heaviest drinking problems or anyone in a home/life situation not amenable to recovery. Outpatient alcohol rehab patients will be able to talk about their struggles and successes with counselors and fellow recovering alcoholics and follow a guided path to sobriety.
Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-step Programs
A useful tool which all recovering alcoholics should strongly consider using is AA, or Alcoholics Anonymous. AA is a community of former drinkers following a program of recovery. There are meetings which take place regularly and last about 1 hour to 90 minutes, where the recovering alcoholics talk about important issues in their lives and their progress on the 12 steps.
There is a supportive atmosphere and it is a great place for a recovering alcoholic to make friends who don’t drink. Fellow AA attendees will be able to relate to the former drinker’s struggles and there are AA members who have ben sober for many years who can guide the newly sober alcoholic along the path to lasting sobriety.
The 12 Step program is what AA uses and it is also used in many alcohol rehabilitation programs. It starts with admitting to oneself that one is an alcoholic and has lost control, accepting that there is a Higher Power that can restore one to behaving reasonably (this could be religious in nature, or the Higher Power can simply be AA or the recovery program), and deciding to submit to the program and giving it a chance to work.
Then the former drinker gets into the main phase, which involves doing a moral inventory (a record of the good and bad one has done) and sharing that inventory with another person. This allows the former drinker to understand the extent to which their drinking may have harmed others. Then they make amends to the people they have harmed and begin helping other alcoholics. For a full list of steps go here.
This moral reset has a profound impact on one’s mind and behavior and is highly recommended to all who intend to stay sober long term.
Heavy drinkers who are quitting are best served by starting with an inpatient rehab program. Those with less serious drinking problems may do just fine with outpatient or rehab programs.
It is always best for an alcoholic to get help rather than trying to deal with the problem on their own. Attending rehab greatly increases the chances of sobriety for the recovering alcoholic.