The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) describes alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder, as “problem drinking that becomes severe.”
According to a 2015 study by the National Institute of Health (NIH), 15.2 million American adults have an alcohol use disorder, nearly 6.2 percent of the population. On a global scale, alcohol use disorder results in 3.3 million deaths every year, according to the World Health Organization.
According to Medical News Today, “A person with (alcohol use disorder) does not know when or how to stop drinking. They spend a lot of time thinking about alcohol, and they cannot control how much they consume, even if it is causing serious problems at home, work, and financially.”
Finding effective treatment is critical for anyone dealing with alcohol use disorder. Although studies vary on the degree to which specific treatment options and medications are effective, treatment is highly suggested after the initial diagnosis of alcohol use disorder. The key is finding the right treatment option curtailed to the specific needs of the individual.
According to a scholarly journal published on the Science magazine website:
Alcoholism is now seen by most experts as a “final common pathway’ arrived at through a multitude of factors including genetic vulnerability, environmental stresses, social pressures, psychiatric problems, and personality characteristics. Although advanced chronic alcoholics look very much alike, the course of the disorder is by no means uniform or predictable.
Physical deterioration, physical and psychological dependency, behavior changes, and general dysfunctionality progress at different rates for different people. . . As Thomas McLellan of the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Hospital says, “absolutely anything you want to say about alcoholics is true about some of them and not true about all of them.”
Finding the right combination of treatment options is critical to preventing relapse, something that is unfortunately very common for users in their first year of sobriety. According to The Recovery Village website, “Less than 20 percent of patients who receive treatment for alcoholism remain alcohol-free for an entire year.”
However, relapse rates dramatically decrease after one year of sobriety. Chances of relapse are less than 15 percent at five or more years of sobriety.
With relapse rates so high in the first year of sobriety, it may be highly beneficial to find effective, long-term treatment after the initial diagnosis and detoxification. According to Medical News Today, the following are recognized treatment options for alcohol use disorder:
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism offers several tips for selecting the appropriate treatment option:
It is important to gauge if the facility provides all the currently available methods or relies on one approach. You may want to learn if the program or provider offers medication and if mental health issues are addressed together with addiction treatment.
Matching the right therapy to the individual is important to its success. No single treatment will benefit everyone. It may also be helpful to determine whether treatment will be adapted to meet changing needs as they arise.
You will want to understand what will be asked of you in order to decide what treatment best suits your needs.
By assessing whether and how the program or provider measures success, you may be able to better compare your options.
Relapse is common and you will want to know how it is addressed.
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