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Addiction on alcohol: symptoms, treatment, and rehab

Reading time: 21 mins

Table of content

Alcoholism is defined as an addiction to alcohol, i.e., heavy and frequent use of alcohol despite the problems it causes. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a progressive condition; a person doesn’t become addicted overnight, and it causes various consequences in a person’s life, including a higher risk of chronic diseases. 

The reasons people become addicted are numerous but are usually a combination of genetics, environment, and culture. The main symptoms of alcoholism, one of the most common addiction types, are more violent and aggressive behavior, constantly drinking and increasing the amounts of alcohol consumed, and planning all activities around alcohol intake. The main treatment methods for alcoholism are behavioral therapies, medications, and detox.

Table of Contents

What are the alcohol addiction symptoms?

The most common symptoms of alcohol addiction are mood swings, the inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed, and spending a lot of time drinking or thinking about doing so. Some people may plan their activities around alcohol consumption. 

On rare occasions, a person may experience alcoholic hallucinosis. While rare, alcoholic hallucinosis is a dangerous complication indicated by predominantly auditory hallucinations, according to a 2012 study by Bhat et al., published in the Industrial Psychiatry Journal. In this case, a person hears threatening or accusatory voices.

Symptoms of alcohol addiction can vary from one person to another depending on the frequency of drinking, amount of alcohol, and the body’s metabolism. Addiction to alcohol can manifest itself through symptoms that range from light to medium and heavy in different types of alcoholics.  

Signs of alcoholism affect a person’s physical and mental health and wellbeing. Alcohol use disorder can change a person’s behavior and make them act more aggressively than they normally do. This problem also alters their cognitive and mental functioning. 

As a result, an individual experiences memory problems and poor concentration. Like any other addiction, alcohol use disorder causes withdrawal symptoms when a person stops drinking. In turn, people with alcoholism live in a vicious cycle of strong cravings to drink, constant need to increase the amount of alcohol to achieve desired effects, and withdrawal symptoms when they decide to stop.

While a person with alcoholism can recognize some symptoms on their own, this can be difficult primarily because people often refuse to acknowledge that the problem exists. However, it is important to get informed about different signs of alcohol use disorder in order to determine whether you or someone else has them. These include:

  • Heavy signs: yellow skin due to liver damage, unsuccessful attempts to stop drinking 
  • Medium signs: mood swings and personality changes, drinking a lot more than intended
  • Light signs: getting intoxicated frequently, established pattern of heavy drinking 

1. Heavy signs of alcohol use disorder

Heavy signs of alcohol use disorder refer to the drastic changes the drinking problem has caused. In persons who are addicted to alcohol, it can lead to disregard for anything other than alcohol consumption. The most common heavy signs of alcohol use disorder are listed below.

  • Yellow skin and eyes due to liver damage
  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop drinking
  • Broken capillaries on nose and face
  • Significant weight loss due to neglect of healthy eating in favor of alcohol intake
  • Dry skin, brittle nails, and hair increase the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles due to dehydrating effects of alcohol
  • The smell of alcohol in breath even long after drinking
  • Poor hygiene 
  • Poor memory 
  • Strong cravings for alcohol
  • Developing tolerance to alcohol leads to drinking more to feel its effects

2. Medium signs of alcohol use disorder

When it comes to alcoholism addiction, medium symptoms are those that show a person’s problem is becoming more progressive. At this point, the person has developed light signs of addiction and shows they’re on their way to the abovementioned heavy signs. Medium signs of alcohol use disorder are listed below.

  • Mood swings and personality changes
  • Drinking more alcohol than intended
  • Refusing to acknowledge the existence of a drinking problem
  • Drinking alcohol first thing in the morning
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking alcohol 

3. Light signs of alcohol use disorder

Light signs of alcohol use disorder refer to early or mild indications of a problematic relationship with alcohol. “What is alcohol addiction” is the question for which most people believe they have the answer. Unfortunately, some of the light signs of this problem largely go unnoticed. That’s why it’s important to learn what they are. Light signs of alcohol use disorder are listed below. 

  • The established pattern of heavy drinking
  • Getting intoxicated frequently
  • Drinking in dangerous situations, e.g., when driving
  • Thinking about alcohol more often
  • Planning activities around alcohol intake 
  • The drastic change in demeanor when drinking, e.g., becoming angry or more violent

What are the treatment methods for alcoholism?

alcoholism treatment methods

Treatment methods for alcoholism aim to reduce or stop alcohol consumption, and improve the quality of life and well-being of the affected individuals and their families. Treatment methods for alcoholism include several approaches listed below:

  • Alcohol detox: Alcohol detox is an abrupt cessation of alcohol use and includes medications to manage withdrawal symptoms
  • Therapy: Therapy includes regular counseling sessions in individual or group format to adopt healthier behaviors and coping mechanisms
  • Medication: Prescription medication helps reduce cravings for alcohol, e.g., naltrexone 
  • Self-care: improving lifestyle to support mental health and quality of life 

1. Alcohol detox to treat alcoholism 

Alcohol detox is the first step of the addiction treatment process; it includes the abrupt cessation of alcohol consumption. It can be medically assisted where a person receives certain medications that help manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms. 

This kind of detox is supervised by medical professionals in inpatient care. Some people can detox at home and don’t receive drugs, but this is only the case when addiction to alcohol is not so severe. 

Detox is a popular method as it marks the transition from addictive behavior to the road to recovery. But, it needs to be executed properly because it can determine how the rest of the treatment is going to work too.

Benzodiazepines for alcoholism

Benzodiazepines are psychoactive medications prescribed to manage anxiety, depression, seizures, and insomnia. In persons receiving treatment for alcoholism, benzodiazepines help manage withdrawal symptoms by slowing down the activity of the central nervous system. 

These medications can treat seizures and tremors, irritability, nausea and vomiting, difficulty sleeping, headaches, pain, anxiety, and chills and sweats, according to a 2015 review by Sachdeva et al., published in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.

Anticonvulsants for alcoholism 

Anticonvulsant medications are pharmacological agents formulated specifically to manage epileptic seizures. The medical supervision team may also prescribe anticonvulsant medication to persons with drink addiction in order to manage withdrawal symptoms or to support their recovery. 

According to a 2004 review on alcohol withdrawal syndrome published in the American Family Physician, intake of anticonvulsants can decrease the number of drinks consumed. In the detox process, anticonvulsants can improve mood, reduce cravings, improve sleep, and also prevent seizures.

Antipsychotics for alcoholism

Antipsychotic medications are psychiatric medications that manage psychosis, mainly in schizophrenia. A 2012 review on atypical antipsychotic drugs and ethanol withdrawal syndrome from Alcohol and Alcoholism found that some antipsychotic medications are beneficial for the treatment of withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol abuse detox. These medications could reduce the abnormalities and return the brain to more normal function.

2. Therapies for alcohol addiction

Therapy for alcohol addiction refers to individual or group counseling sessions during which a person with alcoholism adopts healthy coping skills, learns how to avoid triggers, and works on mental health and wellbeing. Types of therapy for alcoholism include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy, and motivational enhancement therapy. 

While the latter focuses on encouraging a person to accept recovery and positive change in life, cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on correcting unrealistic negative thought and behavior patterns with positive ones. Dialectical behavioral therapy is a type of CBT that focuses on change and acceptance. 

The most common type of therapy for alcohol addiction is CBT, but a person may need to attend other types of therapy sessions, too, depending on the type and severity of their addiction.

3. Medication for alcoholism

Medications prescribed for alcoholism include naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram. They are not available in the over-the-counter form, and an addiction specialist usually prescribes them for short-term use. The alcoholism medication is primarily applied to reduce cravings and the body’s response to alcohol. As a result, they promote recovery from addiction.

Naltrexone for alcoholism

The drug used to treat alcoholism is called naltrexone, which is also the name of the main ingredient in the drug. It is available under the brand names Vivitrol and ReVia. The medication works by decreasing cravings and euphoria linked with alcohol consumption. 

According to the evidence available on a 2008 study by Raymond F. Anton, MD, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, naltrexone should only be prescribed in conjunction with some form of therapy or counseling.

Acamprosate for alcoholism

Sold under the brand name Campral, acamprosate is a medication prescribed to people addicted to alcohol in combination with therapy. The main active ingredient is acamprosate, as you can conclude, and it works by reducing cravings and urges to drink alcohol, as explained by a 2010 study by Barbara J. Mason and Charles J. Heyser published in CNS & Neurological Disorders Drug Targets

This medication is not created to manage withdrawal symptoms; it only functions to decrease a person’s desire to drink and thereby helps beat their addiction to alcohol. 

Disulfiram for alcoholism

Disulfiram is a drug formulated to support the treatment of alcohol use disorder; it is known under the brand name Antabuse. The medication works by producing acute ethanol sensitivity. 

Basically, disulfiram is the ingredient that functions by preventing the body from breaking down alcohol, an article on disulfiram from the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports. A person who drinks, when taking disulfiram, usually becomes sick. This prompts them to stop drinking, i.e., contributes to the recovery process.

4. Self-care for alcoholism

Self-care is a term that refers to practices to improve one’s health and quality of life. In alcohol addiction treatment, self-care plays an important role. If you are not taking care of yourself, your concentration goes down, your mood suffers, and your ability to cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms is compromised. 

On the flip side, self-care allows you to maintain a stable mood, boosts energy levels, increases motivation, and helps you resist cravings or cope with withdrawal symptoms more effectively. 

Examples of self-care for addiction recovery include practicing mindfulness, connecting with other people in recovery, finding balance in your life, setting healthy boundaries, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep.

What are the types of treatment for alcoholism?

The types of treatment for alcoholism include a combination of different approaches that could yield the most significant benefits for patients and their families. The different types of treatment for alcoholism are listed below.

1. Behavioral treatment to treat alcoholism

Behavioral treatment for alcoholism is an umbrella term for therapies and practices that seek to solve problems and relieve symptoms by changing negative thoughts and behaviors into more positive and realistic ones. 

In terms of alcoholism and addiction, behavioral treatment involves several subtypes such as cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, marital and family counseling, and brief interventions.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in alcoholism treatment

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that helps a person identify negative patterns of thoughts and behaviors in order to help them adopt more positive and realistic ones.  

According to a 2010 study on cognitive-behavioral therapy for substance use disorders published in the Psychiatric Clinics of North America, the central tenets of CBT are geared toward reducing the powerfully reinforcing effects of drugs and alcohol by either increasing the contingency associated with non-use or by developing skills to aid in the reduction of use and maintenance of abstinence, as well as providing opportunities for rewarding non-drug activities. 

Furthermore, at least 58% of those who receive CBT for alcoholism treatment fare better than their counterparts who don’t, a 2017 study by Kathleen M. Carroll and Brian D. Kiluk  published in the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors reports.

Motivational enhancement therapy in alcoholism treatment

Motivational enhancement therapy (MET) is a counseling approach that focuses on evoking internally motivated change. A 2014 randomized controlled trial by Dieperink et al., published in the journal Addiction found that at the end of six months, participants in motivational enhancement therapy had raised their abstinence days from 34.98% to 73.15%. 

In alcoholism treatment, MET aims to persuade a person with alcohol use disorder to accept recovery. During the therapy sessions, a person learns to change thoughts and behaviors. Additionally, motivational enhancement therapy helps treat co-occurring disorders such as OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. Patients also learn the difference between alcohol abuse and alcoholism and how to overcome both by changing the way they think and behave.

Marital and family counseling in alcoholism treatment

Marital and family counseling for alcoholism treatment is one of the most important aspects of the whole process. The reason is simple; alcohol addiction does not affect the addicted person only, but their spouse and family members too. 

The main purpose of marriage and family counseling for addiction is to recognize and resolve conflicts in these types of relationships and learn what alcohol abuse is doing to their household dynamic. Family members or spouses work on open communication and use a supportive, nonjudgmental environment to express their frustrations and emotions. This therapy is effective. 

For example, a 2000 study on behavioral couples therapy for alcoholism and drug abuse from the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment focused on marital counseling and found it produced greater abstinence and better relationship functioning than individual-based treatment. It also reduced domestic violence, social costs, and emotional problems in children. For instance, before counseling, 60% of patients with alcoholism had been violent to their female partners. That percentage fell to 24% after marital therapy.

Brief interventions in alcoholism treatment

Brief interventions are one-on-one therapy sessions that are designed to encourage people to stop engaging in problematic drinking behaviors such as binge drinking, according to a 2021 article titled, “Brief Interventions Effective for Some Drinking Problems” from Verywell Mind.

Unlike traditional treatment for alcohol addiction that lasts weeks or months, brief interventions are given in minutes and require minimal follow-up. Some pieces of evidence show brief therapy could be just as effective as a lengthy treatment. 

For example, most clients remain in treatment for between six and 22 sessions, 90% end treatment completing 20 visits, which suggests brief interventions should be a lot more common in clinical practice, according to a 1999 publication on brief interventions and brief therapies for substance abuse from SAMHSA.

2. Medication to treat alcoholic addiction

Medications in the treatment of alcohol addiction problems serve to manage withdrawal symptoms or treat an underlying mental health condition. These medications are prescribed by medical professionals who supervise the treatment. A person can’t obtain them in over-the-counter form. 

As a part of alcohol addiction treatment, these medications are only used for a specific period of time. Some of the most commonly used medications are Antabuse (disulfiram), Naltrexone, Campral (acamprosate), or antidepressants and other classes of drugs.

3. Support group to treat alcoholic addiction

A support group is defined as a meeting of members with similar problems to provide companionship and help to one another. In this case, a support group for alcohol use disorder can be of huge help for persons who are on the road to recovery. 

Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) offer group sessions where people share stories about their addiction and the recovery process. These meetings are important because they can help a person avoid relapse, deal with all the challenges of getting sober, and also provide support to family members.

4. Dieting and sport to treat alcoholic addiction

Diet and regular physical exercise are cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle. For that reason, it comes as no wonder they are helpful for persons with alcohol addiction. Addressing gut bacteria and nutritional deficiencies can significantly support the road to sobriety. 

The reason for that is simple; persons with alcohol addiction consume a lot of calories (alcoholic beverages are highly caloric), but those calories are empty, which is why they tend to be deficient in many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals like zinc. These deficiencies may also influence the brain and its function, which could aggravate addiction. By improving nutrition for alcohol addiction, it could be possible to support addiction treatment.

When we’re talking about alcohol addiction treatment, it’s also important to focus on the benefits of exercise. Taking part in sports, for example, can relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. As a result, exercise could decrease the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings for alcohol.

What are the causes of alcohol addiction?

man at alcohol treatment session

The causes of alcohol addiction are still largely unclear. Alcohol addiction develops when a person keeps engaging in drinking to prevent withdrawal symptoms, which can be unpleasant or dangerous. A person doesn’t become addicted to alcohol overnight; this condition develops gradually. Various factors are involved in the formation of alcohol use disorder. In many cases, a combination of different factors is the main culprit. 

An article titled, “Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder” from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that the most common factors that lead to alcohol addiction are drinking at an early age, family history, mental health conditions, and a history of trauma. 

More precisely, persons who started drinking before age 15 are more than five times as likely to report having alcohol use disorder as those who began drinking after the age of 21. Genetics or heredity is also a major factor, and it is present in over 60% of cases. Additionally, a wide range of psychiatric conditions such as depression, ADHD, PTSD, and childhood trauma all contribute to the development of alcoholism.

While the above mentioned factors are the most common, other causes also play a major role in alcoholism development. One of these is culture and social habits. Many people start drinking and consuming too much alcohol because they are exposed to it in their environment, or they socialize with people who drink too much.

Evidence shows many persons with alcohol addiction don’t consume a balanced diet. Since alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use nutrients, the connection between diet and alcoholism becomes stronger.Although rare, having bariatric surgery could also play a role in the development of alcoholism, according to a 2017 cohort study published in the Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.

Who is involved in alcohol addiction treatment?

Alcohol addiction treatment  involves various professionals with different roles and responsibilities to help alcohol addicts on their way to recovery. It is the combined effort of all these professionals that ensure a comprehensive and well-structured treatment a person with alcoholism needs. Professionals involved in alcohol addiction treatment are listed below:

  • Clinical psychologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Primary care provider
  • Alcohol counselor
  • Social worker

1. Clinical psychologist

The clinical psychologist provides behavioral treatment. This healthcare professional provides information on alcohol abuse and helps a person become aware of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They also teach persons with alcohol addiction different ways of dealing with problems through various therapeutic approaches.

2. Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist diagnoses and treats substance abuse, in this case, alcohol use disorder. Besides treating alcohol addiction, the psychiatrist also treats mental health disorders. This is particularly useful because addiction may also involve underlying mental health problems. A psychiatrist also participates in detoxification and prescription of medications.

3. Primary care provider

Primary care providers in alcoholism and abuse treatment are responsible for medications and brief behavioral treatment. Additionally, these professionals refer persons with alcohol addiction to specialists. 

4. Alcohol counselor

An alcohol counselor helps a person with this problem understand what alcohol addiction is. This professional is also responsible for behavioral treatment. Other roles of an alcohol counselor include creating a structured and realistic treatment and recovery plan, offering tips and strategies for a successful recovery and long-term sobriety, regularly assessing a person’s progress, and providing support and encouragement. 

5. Social worker

The social worker is a professional who aims to help people improve their overall wellbeing and quality of life through assistance with interpersonal and social difficulties. 

In recovery from alcohol addiction, a social worker takes part in behavioral treatment. The social worker also provides alcohol abuse information, helps identify a person’s goals, and creates plans to reach them. Additionally, social workers connect clients to resources such as human service programs, homeless shelters, food banks, just to name a few. 

Which alcoholism treatment method is better?

Man's silhouette drinking glass of beer

The treatment method for alcoholism considered better may be different from one case to another. Whether a person has wine addiction or alcohol use disorder involving other drinks, the treatment will involve a combination of different approaches. For example, a 2011 review of the medical treatment of alcohol dependence from the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine found that medications for alcohol addiction are effective in combination with therapy. 

The best treatment approach depends on factors such as the severity of the addiction. The same goes for the type of program. For persons with severe addiction, detox under medical supervision followed by an inpatient program is a better approach. 

Others can benefit from outpatient treatment. Also, a person who undergoes detox may need medications, just like individuals who have underlying mental health problems and other conditions. Medications are combined with therapy sessions.

What we can see here is that it’s impossible to pinpoint a specific treatment method and say it’s better than any other when the combination of several approaches works best and every person is different.

What to know when choosing a treatment for alcohol use disorder?

When choosing a treatment for alcohol use disorder, it’s useful to know how they work. First, it is crucial to understand what is considered alcohol abuse because not every person who drinks an alcoholic beverage will become addicted. 

Alcohol abuse is the excessive consumption linked to withdrawal symptoms and constant cravings to keep drinking. When choosing a treatment for alcohol use disorder, you need to know:

  • The costs
  • How severe your addiction is
  • What other physical or mental health problems do you have
  • Certifications and accreditations of the treatment center
  • Available treatments for alcohol addiction

What is the cost of alcohol addiction treatment?

The cost of alcohol addiction treatment depends on several factors, such as the type of the program, treatment duration, geographic location, and amenities covered. For example, the cost of a 30-day detox program in an alcohol addiction treatment center ranges from $250 to $800 per day. 

A 30-day intensive outpatient program may cost between $3,000 and $10,000, whereas three months of outpatient care go from $1,400 to $10,000. The residential or inpatient stay ranges from $5,000 to $80,000, depending on the length of stay. 

A good thing to bear in mind is that health insurance may cover the cost of the treatment for alcohol addiction. 

1. Inpatient treatment cost for alcohol addiction

The cost of inpatient treatment for alcohol addiction varies from one center to another. Location and the program structure are among the factors that determine the costs. 

In some inpatient treatment centers, a drink addict may pay around $6,000 for a 30-day program. A 2023 article on the cost of alcohol use disorder published in WedMD asserts that the price can go as high as $20,000 for a 30-day stay in well-known rehab centers. The average cost of 60- or 90-day inpatient treatment for alcohol addiction ranges from $12,000 to $60,000.

2. Outpatient treatment cost for alcoholism addiction

Outpatient treatment is a type of treatment where a person attends counseling sessions regularly but doesn’t sleep in the rehab center for 30, 60, or 90 days. They get to go home every day. 

As alcohol addiction definition implies, a person experiences withdrawal effects when he stops drinking alcohol. That’s why outpatient treatment is most suitable for persons whose alcoholism isn’t severe or those who have completed an inpatient program and need more support. 

The cost of outpatient treatment is lower than for inpatient alcoholism treatment. The average price for a three-month program is $5,000. Well-known outpatient centers may charge up to $10,000 for a three-month program. The exact costs may depend on the number and duration of individual visits during the week.

How to measure the alcohol addiction treatment success?

In order to measure the alcohol addiction treatment success, it is necessary to thoroughly evaluate a person’s behavior before and after the program. Various parameters are used to determine the success of the treatment, such as whether a person is drinking, experiencing cravings, taking care of mental health, and employing coping skills learned during the treatment. 

Successful treatment also means a person is emotionally stable and secure, feels like a worthwhile individual, takes care of physical health, and takes responsibility for all actions. Additionally, treatment success is also observed through care for appearance, sleeping well, healthy social life, managing finances responsibly, regularly attending counseling sessions, and being productive. 

While it’s tricky to self-assess treatment success in an unbiased manner, professional addiction counselors and other specialists provide accurate and objective assessments. 

What to do if your husband has alcohol use disorder?

If your husband has alcohol use disorder, you need to take steps to protect yourself, but also to help your spouse. Avoid taking the husband’s alcohol abuse personally; it may help to learn how alcohol is addictive. 

That way, you will understand underlying mechanisms and avoid blaming yourself for his addiction. While spouses typically aren’t the cause of alcohol use disorder, many enable this condition by making it easier for the husband to stick to drinking alcohol. Enabling is what you need to avoid. 

Ignoring the problem is also a form of enabling. What you can do is talk about your drinking problem, offer your support, and encourage your husband to get help. In the process, you should avoid judging or blaming them for their problems. 

Make sure he knows addiction is a mental health condition that can be treated. Take care of yourself and join support groups that are specifically created for spouses and family members of persons with addiction.

What to do if your child has alcohol addiction?

If your child has an alcohol addiction, there’s a lot you can do as a parent to help them, even if you feel helpless at the moment. First, parents need to read and learn as much as they can about alcohol use disorder, including myths such as ethanol is not addictive. 

The more you know, the more confident you’re going to be. Then, you need to acknowledge your child is an adult who made their decisions and needs help without being judged. 

Enabling their addiction is not helpful. What you can do is stage an intervention and consult an addiction counselor or alcohol addiction treatment center who will inform you about things you can do to encourage your child to start the treatment program.

How to convince the person for professional help about alcohol addiction?

In order to convince the person for professional help about alcohol addiction, it is necessary to learn all the facts regarding this problem first. Since not every person who drinks alcohol will develop an addiction, it’s useful to learn how many drinks are considered heavy drinking. According to the frequently asked questions page about alcohol published in the CDC, heavy drinking is considered having 15 drinks a week or more for men and eight or more for women.

Alcohol addiction is more than drinking a lot. For that reason, getting informed is the first step toward convincing someone to get help. Practice what you’re going to say and make sure to avoid using a judgmental tone. 

Choose the right time for this important conversation and approach the person with honesty and compassion. Offer your support and make sure they know you will be there for them. Carefully explain how addiction to alcohol is affecting their life in a way they can acknowledge the existence of a problem. Again, avoid a judgmental tone. Be prepared for their reluctant attitude. Consult an addiction counselor who can advise your loved ones and show them it’s possible to overcome their addiction.

What are the futuristic improvements for alcoholism treatment?

Futuristic improvements for alcoholism treatment rely on discovering and exploring new methods that may provide a significant contribution to a person’s recovery process. 

As an article titled, “Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help” from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports, scientists are attempting to provide a broader range of pharmaceutical therapies that may be adjusted to individual needs. People may be able to experiment with different drugs when more become available to see which ones work best for them.

The institute has released a strategic plan that details its priorities, and one of them is to help improve treatments for alcohol addiction. 

Besides behavioral therapies, various medications are also explored in terms of their potential effectiveness to aid alcoholism treatment. These advances include:

  • The use of gabapentin, which is more effective in persons with alcohol use disorder and a history of withdrawal symptoms, according to a 2020 randomized clinical trial  by Anton et al., published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
  • Anti-smoking drugs as an aid in alcohol dependence treatment.  A 2013 clinical trial by Litten et al., published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine reports that the drug varenicline, approved in 2006 to help people stop smoking, can significantly decrease alcohol cravings and consumption in alcohol-dependent persons. 

Anti-epileptic medication or anticonvulsants could ease cravings in persons with alcoholism, a 2008 article by Heidi Ledford published in Nature reports. One of those drugs is the above-mentioned gabapentin.

Can you assess alcohol addiction by yourself?

You can assess alcohol addiction by yourself to some extent only. While all people know about alcohol addiction, many people are in denial and don’t want to acknowledge the presence of the problem. 

Various websites online offer alcoholism self-assessment tests where a user can evaluate their drinking habits and determine whether they’re abusing alcohol. However, the most effective way to learn whether you have alcohol addiction is to consult an addiction counselor or other specialists in a treatment center specialized to treat these disorders. 

Your primary care physician can also help by referring you to specialists you need to see. Professional input is the most reliable source of information you can get about your condition.

What is aftercare for alcohol addiction?

Aftercare for alcohol addiction is a plan to support a person with activities, interventions, and resources to help them cope with stress, triggers, and cravings they may face once the treatment is over. 

Aftercare of a person addicted to alcohol is based on their needs. In most cases, it includes taking part in the treatment center’s alumni program, staying in sober living for a specific period of time, regularly attending individual/group counseling sessions, establishing a strong support system at home, reaching out to sponsors, and regularly attending 12-step program meetings. 

Many people underestimate the importance of aftercare. The truth is that transition out of treatment and into a “normal” life can be challenging after addiction treatment. The aftercare program focuses on making this transition as smooth as it can be.

Is alcohol a strong addictive substance?

man saying no to alcohol

Alcohol is an addictive substance, but not a strong addictive substance like illicit drugs. That being said, alcohol is regularly ranked at the top of the list of the most frequently consumed addictive substances, according to a publication titled, “Other Commonly Used Addictive Substances” from the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Not every person who drinks alcohol will develop an addiction. Alcohol abuse definition indicates its habitual excessive use of alcohol accompanied by withdrawal symptoms when a person tries to stop. 

Not every person will get to this point. Factors that play a role in a person’s likelihood to develop an addiction to alcohol include a higher release of endorphins in response to alcohol. 

In persons with the higher secretion of endorphins, the feeling of pleasure caused by alcohol is amplified. For that reason, they are more likely to drink more. Metabolism of alcohol and the presence of mental health problems could also contribute to amplifying the addictive potential of alcohol in some persons but not in others.

Can the body and brain repair from alcohol?

The body can repair itself from alcohol completely or partially. The extent of the recovery greatly depends on the extent of damage induced by alcohol abuse. According to evidence, such as  a 2021 study by Thomes et al., from Alcohol Research Current Reviews,  The liver and GI tract suffer the most alcohol-induced damage since they are the first to be exposed to large amounts of imbibed alcohol.

For that reason, it is unlikely that recovery from alcohol abuse and abstinence would contribute to complete recovery from severe complications such as decompensated cirrhosis. That being said, resolution of cirrhosis that affects only a part of the liver, i.e., compensated cirrhosis is more likely.

In other words, the body can reverse the effects of alcohol by itself in many cases. The exceptions are severe problems, but the cessation of alcohol use could aid their management and still improve a person’s quality of life. If you’re not sure how to battle alcohol addiction and improve your health, make sure to consult your doctor.

How many alcohol addicted people exist?

There are about 107 million alcohol-addicted people in the world, according to a 2018 article on alcohol consumption from Our World in Data. The prevalence of alcohol use disorder is the highest among people between 25 and 34 years old. 

The exact prevalence of alcoholism varies from one country to another. For example, in Russia, the prevalence is 4.7% meaning one in 20 people have alcohol use disorder at any given time.

Alcohol addiction information provided by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism through its alcohol facts and statistics indicates that 7.2% of people ages 12 and older in the US had an alcohol use disorder in the past year. Of these, 6.9% were males, and 7.8% were females.

How to find an inpatient rehab center for alcoholism?

To find an inpatient rehab center for alcoholism, you need to consider the costs, specialties, treatments, therapies, and amenities they offer. Persons who need help with alcohol abuse have a lot of alcohol rehab centers to choose from. 

In the US alone, there are over 14,000 addiction treatment centers, according to the United States Addiction Rehab Industry Report 2020 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). While there is no specific information regarding the number of treatment centers in the world, it is easy to conclude there are thousands of them as well. 

That means a person with alcohol abuse is not limited to the United States or any other country of their residence. Diamond Rehab Thailand is a good example of an inpatient rehab center that uses the advantage of heavenly location and lovely weather to provide comprehensive treatment with a wide range of other amenities.

How to find an outpatient rehab center for alcoholism?

In order to find an outpatient rehab center for alcoholism, you may need to do a little research online. Find different outpatient rehab centers in your area. The whole point of these centers is that they are meant to allow patients to retain their normal routine while recovering from an addiction to alcohol. 

So, proximity is important in order to make that happen. Check their credentials program, and learn more about the experiences of people who have struggled with alcohol addiction as well. 

Did they find the center helpful? Nowadays, you can find these things online. It’s also useful to ask someone for recommendations or contact different outpatient rehab centers, meet professionals who work there, and see how they can help you.

What are the best places for alcohol addiction treatment?

The best places for alcohol addiction treatment are rehab centers that specialize in working with substance use disorders. In these places, patients get to define alcohol addiction, get help, and receive encouragement on the road to recovery.

Some of the best places are located in peaceful areas with nice and warm weather, which also helps improve a person’s mental health and wellbeing.