Call us today
At American Addiction Centers, we strive to provide the most up-to-date and accurate medical information on the web so our readers can make informed decisions about their healthcare.
Our reviewers are credentialed medical providers specializing in addiction treatment and behavioral healthcare. We follow strict guidelines when fact-checking information and only use credible sources when citing statistics and medical information. Look for the medically reviewed badge ( Medically Reviewed Badge ) on our articles for the most up-to-date and accurate information.
If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate or out-of-date, please let us know at ContactAAC@ContactAAC.com.
When a loved one shows signs of alcoholism, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by questions, fears, and practical concerns. How will you approach your loved one about drinking? Will your loved one accept help or deny the problem? What treatment services are available, and what’s the best way to ensure that your friend or relative gets the right kind of help? The key to finding the most effective approach to rehab is to understand how alcohol treatment works, so you can be aware of your options.
Recovery from alcohol abuse does not happen in a matter of days. Alcohol rehab is a multistep process that demands time, effective therapies, and the support of friends and family. But the time and effort that go into recovery from alcoholism will pay off in the form of improved physical health, stronger personal relationships, and a more positive outlook on the future.
In the past, heavy drinking was considered to be a sign of a weak character and a lack of self-discipline. Today, research in the fields of neurology and addiction science have taught us that alcoholism is a chronic disorder of the brain.
Alcoholism is a complex condition that is not caused by a lack of willpower, but by a combination of contributing factors:
Not everyone who has one of these elements in their background will develop the disease of alcoholism. There are many factors that can protect an individual against having problems with alcohol, such as a strong social support network or successful personal relationships. However, it pays to be aware of the risk factors for alcoholism, so you can minimize the chances of developing the disease.
Alcoholism is an addictive disorder that will continue to get worse without intervention and treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a chronic brain disease with symptoms that include compulsive use of the drug, frequent relapses, and persistence in abusing the substance in spite the harm it causes. Unless the individual enters treatment or participates in recovery activities, the disease is likely to progress to the point of disability and premature death.
When does heavy drinking or casual partying turn into a serious disease? Moderate drinking is generally defined as one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, but many people consume far more than these recommendations. The National Health Interview Survey 2014 found that in 2014, over 31 percent of American men had at least one day of heavy drinking (five or more alcoholic beverages in a 24-hour period) in the past year, while 14.5 percent of American women had at least one heavy drinking day.
Binge drinking is a sign that recreational alcohol use has become dangerous and destructive. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that close to 25 percent of adults age 18 and older had engaged in binge drinking, or the consumption of five or more alcoholic beverages within a matter of hours, in the past 30 days.
Heavy drinking greatly increases the risks of alcohol-related health problems, such as:
Drinking heavily also makes it more likely that an individual will become addicted to alcohol. In spite of the growing publicity about the health risks of alcoholism, this substance remains one of the most widely abused drugs in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), over 16,600 Americans age 18 and older — approximately 7 percent of this population of adults — abused alcohol or were dependent on alcohol in 2013.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers statistics on alcohol use in the US:
Unfortunately, statistics indicate that most people who need treatment for alcohol abuse do not receive it. Some of these individuals did not agree that they needed treatment, while others recognized their need for help but were not ready to commit to a program, or did not believe they had the resources to enter a rehab facility.
Call now to speak to a consultant about your treatment options
Over time, alcohol eventually takes a toll on the individual’s physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. But because drinking is such a common social practice, it can be easy to overlook some of the early red flags of the disease, such as:
Many people who drink destructively will eventually attempt to stop on their own. They may try to limit the number of drinks they consume, save their drinking for weekends, or drink only in the company of others. However, in most cases, people who abuse alcohol need the help and support of others to achieve long-term recovery, including friends, family, and compassionate addiction treatment progressions.
Convincing a loved one that help is needed can be one of the most challenging barriers to treatment. Denial is common among people struggling with alcohol abuse. The need to drink alcohol in order to function physically and mentally can become so overwhelming that the individual will do anything to avoid losing the connection with that substance.
When talking with a person who has a drinking problem, the most effective approach is usually to be as objective and nonjudgmental as possible. Accusations, criticism, and emotional outbursts will often alienate the individual instead of bringing the person closer to treatment. Use the following tips to make your conversation compassionate yet productive:
Above all, remember that alcoholism is a disease that should be treated with as much compassion and understanding as any other serious medical condition. It can be extremely frustrating, even frightening, to watch a loved one engage in alcohol abuse. But an effective alcohol treatment program can help prevent the devastating effects of alcoholism and get your loved one back on the path to a healthy, rewarding life.
A little research into alcohol treatment options will confirm that there are many different ways to treat this disease and that there are probably dozens of rehab centers within an easy distance of your own community. The types of treatment programs that you will find when you start your search actually represent levels of care:
Together, these programs form a spectrum of services that support a long-term sobriety. Many people who seek treatment will go through several of these programs as they advance through recovery. Detox is the foundation of recovery, cleansing the body of alcohol and preparing the mind for rehab. Inpatient treatment or residential rehab often follow the detox phase, providing a structured environment where the client can focus on recovery without the distractions or stressors of daily life.
Once clients feel stronger and more confident in sobriety, they may transition to a more flexible outpatient program that offers independence and autonomy. Outpatient rehab programs offer many of the same services and therapies as inpatient treatment centers, but they give clients the opportunity to live in the community, hold down a job, and take care of family obligations at the same time.
Making that first phone call to a treatment center may feel intimidating. This list of questions will help you structure your conversation with an admissions counselor and find a program that meets your loved one’s needs.
During treatment, clients should have access to a staff of compassionate, credentialed professionals from the fields of medicine, addiction treatment, mental health, social services, nutrition, trauma therapy, and more. A comprehensive staff includes doctors, nurses, health technicians, nutritionists or dietitians, and fitness professionals. All of these experts contribute to sustainable, long-term recovery.
The intake phase is a critical step in the early stages of alcohol treatment. A thorough intake assessment and evaluation will ensure that clients receive treatment that addresses their unique needs. During this phase, an incoming client receives a complete evaluation that covers the following:
The initial assessment includes an evaluation of the severity and duration of the client’s alcohol use, history of rehab admissions, and the presence of co-occurring medical conditions or psychiatric disorders that need to be addressed. This information helps the treatment team identify the right level of care for the client and create a personalized care plan for recovery.
Call now for FREE insurance and payment consultation
Finances shouldn’t be an obstacle when you are seeking help for your loved one, but in reality, paying for recovery services is a key concern for almost everyone who seeks help. Alcohol treatment services are available to anyone who is committed to getting recovery, regardless of their ability to pay. For individuals with limited financial resources, publicly funded detox and rehab programs can provide intensive treatment, while outpatient services or 12-Step programs are available for those who do not need 24-hour care.
Medical insurance and personal financial resources can be used to cover treatment at private facilities. Most major health insurance plans cover substance abuse treatment. An admissions counselor at the facility will be able to review your resources and determine which services your insurance will cover.
Once the intake process is complete, alcohol treatment begins with medical detox. Detox can be completed on an inpatient or an outpatient basis, depending on how much supervision the client needs. Clients with a potential for severe withdrawal symptoms, or those who have a higher risk of relapse, will need to go through detox at an inpatient facility or hospital where they can be monitored around the clock by clinical staff. Clients who are medically stable and highly motivated to go through rehab may complete the detox process on an outpatient basis, with scheduled visits to a clinic or rehab facility. Those suffering from addictions to alcohol, opiates, or benzodiazepines always require medical detox to ensure their safety and wellbeing throughout the withdrawal process.
It’s not uncommon for the public to mistake alcohol detox for alcohol rehab, but detox and rehab actually represent two distinct stages in recovery. In medical detox, clients recover from the acute physical effects of alcohol abuse. During the detox phase, clients are prepared to enter a rehab program, where they will receive therapeutic services the promote recovery.
In the aftercare phase, clients who have completed the stages of rehab may continue to attend meetings, see therapists, or participate in social events with other individuals who have been through rehab. The goal of aftercare is to help recovering clients re-enter the community and support them in the use of new coping strategies.
Individualized treatment for alcoholism is not a one-size-fits-all process. The goals and steps of a treatment plan should reflect the client’s substance use history, medical condition, and the existence of any co-occurring psychiatric conditions. In addition, an alcohol treatment plan should provide support and education for the loved ones of its clients, so they can pursue their own recovery and create a healthy living environment that supports sobriety.
You Can Start a New Life
Contact us today to talk with a Admission Navigator who will give you the information you need to make the right decision for you and your loved ones.