Alcoholism is a chronic, potentially fatal medical condition. The best way to treat alcohol addiction is through detoxification, medical treatment, and therapy. A person with alcohol dependence needs help to stop drinking. People dependent on alcohol need medical treatment to help them get sober and stay that way. Some common types of treatment include:
1. Continuous support from family and friends
The key to success is often found in the type of support that’s available after discharge from treatment. Alcoholics need all the help they can get to beat their addiction — and part of this help will come from family members who understand what they’re going through. They need people around them who will support their efforts at sobriety and be there for them when they slip up from time to time. However, if someone has a severe drinking problem and refuses treatment or tries repeatedly but fails at stopping on his own, he needs professional help to recover fully from alcoholism.
2. Joining peer support groups
Alcoholism can be treated, but it’s not a simple process. You’ll need to follow your doctor’s advice and attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. You can help yourself by learning about alcoholism and how it affects your body. The more you know, the easier it will be to manage your condition. You may also want to consider joining a peer support group or attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. These offer moral support and information that can help you overcome alcohol dependency. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends that people with alcoholism should seek help from a treatment program or healthcare provider who has experience treating alcoholism when they have an ongoing pattern of relapsing after periods where they abstain from drinking for several months or years.
Alcohol medication treatment helps reduce cravings and block the pleasurable effects of alcohol. But they do not cure alcoholism.
Naltrexone (Revia) — This medication works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, reducing cravings for alcohol. It can be used to treat both alcohol dependence and alcohol addiction. Naltrexone should be taken daily as part of a comprehensive treatment program that includes counseling and support services.
Acamprosate (Campral) — Acamprosate helps reduce craving for alcohol by increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical messenger in the brain that acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It is taken twice daily for up to six months as part of a comprehensive treatment program that includes counseling and support services.
Disulfiram (Antabuse) — Disulfiram blocks an enzyme necessary for metabolizing alcohol, causing severe nausea, vomiting, palpitations, headache, and flushing when alcohol is consumed while taking disulfiram.
This usually includes weekly meetings with a therapist or counselor who helps you set goals and learn how to cope with strong urges to drink. Your counselor will also work with you on developing strategies for avoiding high-risk situations where drinking may occur. For example, if you know that your spouse gets upset when you drink, your counselor might suggest staying away from home during happy hours so that she doesn’t feel pressured by your desire to drink when she’s alone with the kids. Counseling sessions also help establish a strong support system between you and other people in recovery who understand what it’s like to have an addiction problem.
5. Lifestyle changes
Changing how you live can help you stop drinking or drink less. These changes may include joining Alcoholics Anonymous or another support group, attending counseling sessions on your own or with your family, or setting up regular appointments with doctors, therapists, or other healthcare providers who specialize in treating addiction and mental health problems. Lifestyle changes can also include avoiding people or places that trigger cravings for alcohol or drugs.
6. Long-term residential treatment
People who have severe alcoholism may need to go through long-term residential treatment. This type of treatment is for people who are unable to stop drinking on their own and need a structured, supervised environment to help them learn how to achieve sobriety. This treatment can be done in an inpatient setting or an outpatient setting. Inpatient programs provide patients with 24/7 care and supervision, while outpatient programs offer similar services but follow a more flexible schedule.
The best way to tackle alcoholism is with a combination of therapies that addresses the underlying issues. Alcoholism should never be ignored and should never be treated as a subject of levity by those suffering from this disease. The first step towards getting better is recognizing your problem and seeing a trained professional for help.