Addiction to alcohol not only causes physical symptoms and manifestations, but also affects the mental and emotional stability and attitude of individuals caught in a vicious circle of systematic and heavy drinking. Alcoholism can devastate the heart and liver, but also works insidiously in the psychosocial stability of individuals that often leads to job loss, broken relationships, and decreased quality of life.
Therapies to treat alcohol addiction may take a few days or months, depending on the alcohol dependence of the individual, but individuals overcoming alcohol addiction may need long-term therapy, counseling, and support for years.
Alcohol addiction utilizes a variety of treatments that may include a combination of medications and psychological counseling. The most common methods for treating alcohol addiction have been through drugs, including:
One of the most recent medications available in the United States is Vivitrol, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006. The medication is injected once a month to help reduce the urge to drink through blocking of neurotransmitters in the brain believed to be associated with alcohol dependence. This medication doesn't relieve alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and is best utilized for those who are currently undergoing counseling.
Treatment programs that provide counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy, behavior modification techniques, counseling, and follow-up aftercare at treatment centers are the most successful.
Many residential alcoholism treatment facilities involve detoxification and withdrawal, which is a stage at which the body "dries out". This process takes between four and seven days, depending on severity of the alcohol abuse. In some cases, individuals may be sedated to help reduce and prevent withdrawal seizures or delirium tremens.
Psychological support and psychiatric counseling, group or individual counseling sessions and therapy support are major factors in the success of an alcoholism therapy program. Involving a significant other as well as family members is also important for family support and encourages the recovery process.
According to experts, nearly 95% of untreated alcoholics may eventually die of alcoholism or illnesses or disease process such as liver damage directly caused by alcoholism. A very small percentage of alcoholics are able to stay sober by quitting on their own, compared to roughly 50% who stay sober for a year after going through treatment. A 70% success rate for a year following treatment is enjoyed by those who also attend Alcoholics Anonymous or other support group meetings on a regular basis. A staggering 90% of alcoholics stay sober for at least a year after undergoing treatment, attend regular support meetings, and go to aftercare once a week.
Any form of medical detoxification should be supervised by a professionally trained expert in the field. Doctors trained in drug abuse and withdrawal, as well as chemical dependencies and mental disorders and should be experienced, certified, and members of physician organizations and associations in their country of origin. Support staff should also be certified to provide healthcare and facilities should be clean and antiseptic. Physicians should specialize in the identification and treatment of multiple forms of addiction, and some of the best specialize in neurobiology, medically managing detoxification and a multitude of medications used in addiction treatments.
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