Which Alcohol Addiction Therapy Should You Consider?

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Statistics from the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) revealed that 29.5 million people from 12 years old and up had alcohol use disorder in the past year.

However, data from the same study showed that only 2.2 million people from this group received treatment in the past year.

Common barriers to receiving treatment for alcohol abuse include attitudinal beliefs (e.g., “I should be strong enough to handle it.”), unreadiness for change, stigma, and financial concerns.

But if you or someone you know is ready to undergo alcohol addiction therapy, you can find various ways to reduce your drinking problem, from a behavioral approach to medication.

Fortunately, as with any kind of substance abuse, alcohol addiction can be treated with the right method and proper care and support. Explore the different treatment methods, providers, and options for people dealing with alcohol use disorder.

Available Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options

Regardless of where you are in the five stages of alcohol addiction, the following options should address your alcohol problems:

Primary Care Physician

People struggling with alcohol use disorder are advised to consult with a primary care physician first to know the best form of treatment for them.

A physician can assess the person’s drinking pattern, create a treatment plan, refer to appropriate healthcare professionals and centers, and prescribe medication.

If you or someone you know is ready to see a doctor, make sure to list your or their symptoms, drinking history, personal information, current medications or supplements, and any questions you or they want to ask.

During the appointment, the doctor will inquire about your drinking habits, physical and mental health problems, family history of illness or addiction, and more. They may also request lab tests, if necessary, for better evaluation.

Ultimately, the physician can be a key person throughout the treatment process, monitoring your progress.

Online Alcoholism Treatment

People who prefer to keep their therapy private or have no nearby treatment center available may opt for telemedicine platforms specializing in treating addiction, like Curednation.

These platforms offer various services to determine the underlying causes of alcohol misuse and receive treatment anywhere, anytime.

For example, Curednation services include medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse disorder, medically managed detox, and treatment for co-existing conditions (e.g., mental health disorders) under private and confidential recovery.

Meanwhile, other platforms offer other services and approaches, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). You can book an appointment via computer, phone, or web-based platforms.

Note that this option isn’t suitable for everyone, especially those with severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Consult a physician to know if telemedicine suits your needs.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral treatments help people dealing with alcohol problems develop skills to stop or reduce drinking, build a support system, set and achieve goals, and cope with or avoid triggers causing relapse.

This type of therapy can be done by primary care providers, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or alcohol counselors. They may use any of the following types of behavioral treatments, as appropriate:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This approach involves one-on-one or group therapy and focuses on identifying cues that lead to heavy drinking and managing stress to avoid relapse.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: This evidence-based talk therapy helps individuals live in the present, avoid dwelling on the past, practice honest communication, and manage stress and emotions.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy: This short-term method helps individuals build and maintain motivation to stop drinking by learning the pros and cons of treatments, planning how to change one’s drinking habits, increasing one’s confidence, and building the skills to follow the plan.
  • Marital and Family Counseling: Family therapy involves spouses and family members in the process, which can improve family relationships and help the individual dealing with alcoholism abstain from alcohol.
  • Brief Intervention: It involves short individual or group counseling sessions where the counselor provides personalized feedback about the person’s drinking pattern and risks and helps them set goals or make changes to their lifestyle to avoid drinking and stay sober.

Your treatment provider may use or recommend other approaches, depending on your condition.

Medication

If needed, your primary care doctor or psychiatrist will prescribe medication to help you reduce drinking and abstain from alcohol. Note that you can only receive a prescription from a doctor or psychiatrist.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three medicines to treat alcohol dependence. These include:

  • Naltrexone: This opioid antagonist blocks the effects of opioids and prevents intoxication and physiologic dependence to treat alcohol use disorder and opioid dependency. It comes as a pill or injectable.
  • Acamprosate: It’s an oral medication that helps individuals maintain abstinence. It’s often used along with counseling and social support.
  • Disulfiram: It causes unpleasant effects to the person if consumed with alcohol. These effects include nausea, headache, a flushed face, chest pain, blurred vision, vomiting, choking, breathing difficulty, and sweating. The unpleasant effects can help some avoid drinking.

Note that all approved medications are non-addictive and are often prescribed alongside other forms of treatment.

Mutual-Support Groups

Support groups and aftercare programs help reduce drinking, manage relapses, and cope with lifestyle changes. Along with other treatments, a support group provides the extra push and motivation needed during recovery.

Popular and widely recommended alcohol programs and support groups include:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provides a self-help, sober peer group that uses spiritual principles from the “Twelve Steps” program to eliminate and recover from alcoholism.
  • SMART Recovery: SMART Recovery uses an evidenced-informed recovery method derived from cognitive behavioral therapy and rational emotive behavioral therapy to build and maintain motivation, cope with urges, manage thoughts, feelings, and actions, and live a balanced life.
  • Moderation Management: Moderation Management (MM) offers a non-judgmental, compassionate peer-support community online and offline. It focuses on people who want to reduce drinking instead of total abstinence.
  • Women for Sobriety: Women for Sobriety (WFS) provides a peer-support program catered to women overcoming substance use disorders. The program helps women develop coping skills for increased self-esteem, emotional and spiritual growth, and a healthy lifestyle.

These communities offer free membership without age, financial, or education requirements.

Alternative Treatment Options

Some healthcare professionals may recommend alternative medicine or treatments to support recovery. However, note that these approaches should not replace medical treatment or psychotherapy.

Other treatment options or practices you may try include:

  • Meditation: It involves focusing or clearing the mind using mental and physical techniques. One study showed that it’s a useful relapse prevention tool.
  • Yoga: Yoga uses posture and controlled breathing to relax and manage stress. It’s also an acceptable adjunct treatment for alcoholism as it helps reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Acupuncture: This alternative inserts thin needles into targeted areas of the body to treat pain and other conditions. Although it needs further study, a 2018 research shows that acupuncture can help reduce alcohol intake, decrease withdrawal syndrome, and rebalance neurotransmitters and hormones in addiction-related brain areas.
  • Spiritual Practice: After evaluating AA’s spiritual approach to alcohol recovery, a study’s findings suggest that increased spiritual practice results in better alcohol use outcomes.

What Is the Best Treatment for People With Alcohol Use Disorder?

Despite the various treatments and approaches available, no alcohol treatment program works for all. What suits you may not suit others and vice versa.

As a result, it’s best to understand the various options and consult with a doctor to learn the best form of treatment for your needs, lifestyle, and condition.

It’s best to ask someone you know about their first-hand experience of a certain program. You may also ask the following questions to help you learn more and choose:

  • What treatment or approach does the program or provider offer?
  • Does the treatment cater to the individual’s needs?
  • What does the program expect of the patient?
  • Does the treatment measure success? If yes, how does it measure success?
  • How does the program or provider handle alcohol relapse?

Besides looking at the process, consider how comfortable you are with the medical professionals, groups, or organizations helping you, as a good relationship with others can take time to develop.

Overcoming Alcohol Abuse Starts With You

Doctors, counselors, family, and friends may give you the push to quit drinking, but the willingness and commitment to undergo therapy should come from you.

Know that alcohol use disorder can be a chronic relapsing disease. Therefore, ensure you have the persistence to complete the recovery process and overcome alcoholism.

When you’re ready to receive treatment, understand and consider your options carefully to know which method or provider suits you best.

If you want to explore telemedicine and what it can do to get you started on your recovery journey, book an appointment with Curednation today.

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