Rehab for Alcohol Addiction
Rehab for Alcohol Addiction
Drug addiction is a very complicated disease that affects an individual’s health and life in a variety of ways, and alcohol addiction is no different. To a degree, the process of overcoming alcohol addiction resembles drug addiction recovery, but there are some key differences. In particular, the very first steps in the process of overcoming alcoholism are arguably the most important – taking part in an alcohol rehab.
While there are numerous substances that are known to be addictive, alcohol is widely viewed as the most addictive and, consequently, the most dangerous of all. Of course, there are many reasons why alcohol is considered the most addictive and dangerous substance, but one of the most pertinent is that alcohol is legally available for purchase and consumption. And not only do those of legal age have access to alcohol, but many underage adults and teens also have access to alcohol. The result is that we see high rates of alcohol addiction with an intense need for alcohol rehabs.
Being that alcoholism is a powerful form of addiction that’s very difficult to overcome, having access to quality alcohol rehabs is absolutely essential for individuals affected by this disease. But what distinguishes an alcohol rehab from other types of rehabilitation? Some of the questions that are key to asking before choosing a facility are:
- How Does Alcohol Rehab Work?
- What Medications Are Used to Treat Alcoholism?
- Does Insurance Cover Treatment For Alcoholism?
- Does Alcohol Rehab Really Work?
How Alcohol Rehab Works
The ultimate goal of alcohol rehab is to help an individual who’s become physiologically dependent on alcohol to regain his or her sobriety and learn how to maintain that sobriety for the long-term. Alcohol rehab is able to help individuals achieve this by providing a combination of psychotherapy, group and individual counseling, and numerous complementary therapies. Each component of a program offered at a alcohol rehab is meant to counteract some facet of alcohol addiction. This occurs by helping an individual overcome alcohol addiction by addressing the circumstances through which he or she became addicted and teaching the individual ways of avoiding potential relapse triggers in the future.
Overcoming an addiction to alcohol doesn’t happen overnight, and there are many paths to get there. In fact, alcohol rehab is a process that can be broken into a series of distinct yet complementary steps. The majority of individuals who receive treatment at alcohol rehab will complete some combination of the following:
The first step in alcohol rehab is detoxification. Detox is all about addressing the physical components of the addiction. Of course, alcohol addiction affects virtually all aspects of self, from a person’s physical health and psychology to his or her relationships and sense of spiritual fulfillment. However, before an individual can begin participating in psychotherapy and other forms of treatment, it’s essential to address the physiological aspects of alcohol dependency so that he or she isn’t dealing with withdrawal symptoms and counseling at the same time.
For alcohol addiction, detoxification typically takes place for a period of three to five days although it’s not uncommon for individuals to need as much as a week, and at time’s withdrawal symptoms can be felt for over a month. During this time, the individual is encouraged to relax while a team of detox technicians monitor him or her to ensure comfort and safety throughout the detoxification process. Further, the length of detoxification treatment is decided on a case-by-case basis and depends on such factors as how long an individual has been suffering from alcohol addiction, the severity of his or her daily habit, and whether there have been prior attempts at treatment and sobriety.
Withdrawing off of alcohol on one’s own can be extremely dangerous and life threatening. Do not detox on your own!
Once detoxification is complete, many patients will proceed to inpatient treatment as the next phase of alcohol rehab. With inpatient care, the patient will reside on-site within the facility for the duration of treatment, which typically lasts for a minimum of four weeks (28 days) or up to three months (90 days); however, longer-term residential style programs are also a possibility, lasting for six months or more and dependent on the needs of the patient.
Some of the most common supplemental treatments are forms of group therapy, which many people tend to see as the quintessential form of addiction treatment. In many cases, the group therapies and psychoeducational and interpersonal process groups designed to help individuals who are recovering from alcohol addiction develop stronger social skills as they learn valuable life skills and relapse-prevention strategies. However, there are often alternative and holistic therapies offered as part of alcohol rehab, which might include things like acupuncture, massage therapy, biofeedback, yoga, experiential therapies (i.e. art therapy and equine therapy), and so on.
After relationships that have been often nonexistent, alcohol-fueled or dysfunctional at best, patients can experience positive and accountable relationships in the moderated atmosphere of rehabilitation programs. The ultimate goal is to uncover the root causes of a patient’s alcohol addiction so as to alleviate those causes. Additionally clinicians will help the patient achieve recovery, and teach the patient how to maintain that newfound sobriety for the long-term.
Outpatient treatment can be used in lieu of inpatient care or as a follow-up to an inpatient program. In an outpatient program, the patient continues to live at home or in some type of transitional living facility while commuting to a treatment facility on designated days. There’s some variation in terms of the curriculum intensity for outpatient programs with intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs being types of outpatient treatment that offer a more inpatient-like level of treatment.
Beyond inpatient and outpatient care, many patients who complete treatment will require some form of aftercare. In the simplest of terms, aftercare is equally as important to acclimating back into the real world from prior treatment modalities and a form of sustained support that extends beyond the completion of alcohol rehab. An aftercare program can be an important resource for individuals who may still be adjusting to sobriety while also seeking employment, stable living arrangements, and some type of peer support group in which to network with other individuals in recovery.
Throughout the aftercare process, patients may build a foundation for sober living through acquisition of life skills. Anger and stress management courses, conflict resolution training, communication workshops, time management and organization instruction, and problem-solving skills coaching allow recovering alcoholics to learn the survival skills they will need to create productive and rewarding lives after treatment.
Moreover, recovery support groups — especially Alcoholics Anonymous and the many other twelve-step programs — are popular as a means of helping individuals sustain many of the principles learned in recovery while also providing a resource for individuals to connect with others who are understanding and supportive of recovery.
What Medications Are Used to Treat Alcoholism?
We tend to associate the process of drug addiction and alcoholism recovery with an individual ceasing his or her intake of mind-altering substances, but there are actually certain circumstances where an individual may require the use of medications as part of the recovery process. This is typically referred to as medication-assisted treatment, and this is a particularly common practice at alcohol rehabs since these facilities are dealing with what many experts consider to be the most dire form of chemical dependency.
For an individual who’s intensely addicted to alcohol, it’s quite dangerous to simply cease his or her alcohol consumption. Due to the neurological processes that underlie alcoholism, individuals who suffer from alcohol addiction could be putting themselves in danger if they simply stop drinking alcohol abruptly without supervision. Especially when the alcohol addiction is severe, the use of medications can mitigate the possibility that the individual would experience severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, thereby allowing him or her to detox from alcohol safely.
While one is undergoing the detoxification process, different medications may be used to treat withdrawal symptoms. Some of these medications may include:
Benzodiazepines – One of the most common types of medication that’s often used at alcohol rehabs is benzodiazepines. As a medication, benzodiazepines actually share certain functional similarities with alcohol since both benzodiazepines and alcohol can alter the brain’s neurochemistry. When an individual is attempting to detox from alcohol, the use of benzodiazepines — Xanax (alprazolam) and Valium (diazepam) are two of the most well-known and commonly-prescribed benzodiazepines — allows an individual to detoxify from alcohol while ensuring that his or her body isn’t thrown into a state of shock due to the abrupt change in neurochemistry. In short, benzodiazepines ensure that the individual’s neurochemical levels are maintained while the body is cleansed of alcohol.
Antidepressants – Without drugs, an addicted person cannot produce natural amounts of happiness-inducing chemicals in their brain. Because they’ve relied on drugs to keep them happy for so long, people in detox often experience depression. Antidepressants like Zoloft and Prozac can help relieve these feelings until the brain is able to produce happiness-inducing chemicals on its own again.
Clonodine – Used to treat alcohol and opiate withdrawals, Clonidine reduces sweating, cramps, muscle aches and anxiety. Clonodine can also stop tremors and seizures.
Additionally, it’s possible for muscle relaxants and sedatives to be used at alcohol rehabs. These types of medications are more mild than benzodiazepines and tend to be used to ensure comfort or to help patients sleep at night. Whether from alcohol or another substance, detoxification can entail some unpleasant symptoms, but the use of sedatives and muscle relaxants help to mitigate the discomfort of withdrawal.
Does Insurance Cover Treatment for Alcohol Dependence?
It used to be that individuals who required treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction would have to pay for their treatment out of their own pockets. Fortunately, that is no longer the case. Most government and private health insurance plans offer coverage for substance abuse treatment, which became an essential health benefit with the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2011. When an individual who has some type of health coverage requires treatment at a drug or alcohol rehab today, it’s likely that he or she will have part, most, or even all of his or her treatment covered by the health coverage provider.
What If I Don’t Have Insurance?
If the individual doesn’t have health coverage, there are still options. For instance, there are a number of institutions that offer special financing options specifically for addiction treatment. Alternately, many treatment centers have begun to offer flexible payment options, including subsidized pricing and the option to pay for treatment in installments.
Does Alcohol Rehab Actually Work?
To understand the efficacy of alcohol rehabs, it’s important to be aware of the physiological effects that are involved in alcohol dependency. When an individual develops an addiction to alcohol, his or her body has reached a point where alcohol is required for the individual to perform or maintain certain physiological functions, particularly in the brain. Alcohol use is known to alter certain neurotransmitters in the brain with one particular neurotransmitter known as gamma-aminobutyric acid — or GABA for short — having the most dire implications. GABA is a chemical that’s produced in the brain as a reflexive response to stress and anxiety; the GABA helps an individual become more calm.
Introducing alcohol into the system causes a surge of GABA, which is responsible for certain symptoms associated with alcohol intoxication. Unfortunately, an individual who has become physiologically dependent on alcohol will experience a GABA deficit when he or she has no alcohol in his or her symptom.
With the detoxification treatment offered at alcohol rehabs, an individual can overcome physical alcohol addiction safely. Being that the brain becomes dependent on alcohol as the primary source of GABA, an individual who suffers from alcoholism might experience severe withdrawal symptoms; in fact, the symptoms could become so severe as to develop into a life-threatening condition known as delirium tremens. Alcohol detoxification gives an individual a safe, supervised setting in which to break that physical dependence on alcohol, ensuring that he or she can cease alcohol consumption without putting himself or herself in danger.
Beyond the importance of detoxification, alcohol rehabs are effective because they help individuals to better understand why they developed addictions to alcohol. When they know why their alcohol addictions developed, they can develop strategies for ensuring that the causes of their alcohol addictions don’t contribute to relapses in the future. In short, the best bet for overcoming an alcohol addiction is to enter an alcohol rehab to live a life of long-term sobriety.