Problem drinking can creep up slowly. In fact, what might have started off as a timely intervention for managing stress, say with a cocktail after work, can surprise you when you suddenly realize that your single cocktail has slowly multiplied into several. This can happen as the body becomes more tolerant of the presence of alcohol, which causes a reduction in the initial relaxing effects of the substance. To keep those effects going, you may find yourself increasing consumption.
At some point along the way, it has become clear that you are in need of some help. This realization may appear due to experiencing severe hangovers or even blackouts. As you face the reality that you have developed an alcohol problem, you find yourself wondering, “Where do I get help for alcohol abuse?” This question might have even greater merit during the pandemic when it is unclear which recovery support services are even available now.
Fortunately, many treatment centers have continued to operate during the Covid-19 health event, as addiction treatment is considered an essential service. While outpatient programs have largely shifted online to telehealth therapeutic support, residential rehabs have revamped their facilities to create safe living environments that adhere to CDC guidelines.
With the added stress of the coronavirus pandemic adding additional triggers that lead to alcohol abuse, individuals now more than ever are encouraged to seek professional guidance. Through the interventions of a comprehensive treatment program, alcohol abuse can be thwarted before an alcohol use disorder becomes entrenched into a more serious alcohol dependency. If you are asking yourself, “Where do I get help for alcohol abuse” it is a sign that you recognize the problem and know that you are losing control over the drinking. Listen to your gut.
How Does an Alcohol Use Disorder Happen Anyway?
It is still a mystery as to why some individuals seem to be able to abuse alcohol regularly and never develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD), while others may acquire the disorder in short order. This is a scientific quandary that has not yet been answered through research.
There are, however, some recognized factors that might contribute to the risk of developing an AUD. Understanding these risk factors is helpful in proactively avoiding the possibility of alcoholism from occurring. Again, these are only risk factors, not causes, which only provide some guidance in decision-making regarding alcohol use:
- Beginning to consume alcohol at a young age, as in under age 15
- Family history of alcoholism
- Genetics, specific biology differences that effect how alcohol is processed
- Culture and ethnicity, with AUD more prevalent in Europe and the US
- Personality traits, such as being prone to impulsive and high-risk behaviors
- Having a mental health disorder increases the chances of self-medicating
Alcoholism can affect each person differently, so without any way to test someone in order to predict their chances of developing the disease all we have to go one currently is acknowledging known risk factors and moderating alcohol intake accordingly.
What Are the Signs of an Alcohol Use Disorder?
Someone who has a drinking problem could begin to fall into certain behavior patterns, as well as display the telltale signs of an AUD. These might include the following:
- Attempts to limit or quit alcohol consumption fail
- Drinking more alcohol over a longer period than intended
- Needing to consumer ever-higher amounts of alcohol to experience the initial positive effects or ward off withdrawal symptoms
- Spending a great deal of time drinking or recovering from effects of drinking
- Neglecting family or work obligations
- Increasingly relying on alcohol for perceived needs, such as getting to sleep or prior to a stressful situation
- Bloating of the face and/or gut
- Hand tremors
- Glassy eyes
The adverse effects caused by alcohol abuse are many. According to an article published in the Alcohol Research and Health journal, alcohol abuse causes a litany of serious medical and psychiatric conditions including:
- Certain cancers
- Liver disease
- Infectious disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Pancreas disease
- Unintentional and intentional injury, such as accidents, homicides, and suicides
- Unsafe sexual practices resulting in STDs, unplanned pregnancy
An interesting finding in the study is that among those who abuse alcohol, women are at a higher risk of being impacted by chronic disease compared to men.
I am Afraid of Detox So What Can I Expect?
If you are a bit nervous about the detox and withdrawal process you are in good company. The alcohol detox phase of recovery is a necessary step that is just not a pleasant experience. Regardless, by keeping the eye on the prize—sobriety—it is possible to safely navigate this phase of your recovery with the help of a trained medical detox team.
During a supervised medical detox, vital signs are monitored continually and the detox professional will provide medical interventions to help manage the withdrawal symptoms as they emerge. A trained detox staff can guide the individual through the process from start to finish, as they help them segue into a treatment program.
Depending on the length of time and severity of the AUD, plus other factors such as coexisting health or mental health conditions and age, the alcohol detox withdrawal symptoms may include:
Mild Withdrawal Symptoms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hand tremors
- Muscle weakness
- Agitation, irritability
Moderate Withdrawal Symptoms
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
- Mood swings
- Increased blood pressure
- Shaking or trembling
- Mild seizures
- Mental confusion
Severe Withdrawal Symptoms
- Delirium tremens (DTs)
On average, alcohol detox and withdrawal lasts anywhere from 5-7 days, depending on the severity of the alcohol addiction.
What Types of Alcohol Addiction Treatment Are Available Now?
When seeking treatment for an AUD it is common to wonder, “Where do I get help for alcohol abuse?” It is important to recognize the different types of rehabs available that offer varying levels of care. Generally, an outpatient program is appropriate for a mild or recent AUD, but for a moderate to severe alcohol addiction it is best to seek help through a residential treatment setting. Where the individual is free to remain at home throughout the outpatient program, a residential program requires they reside in provided housing. There are pros and cons of each to consider, so it helps to do some research before deciding on which treatment format is the best fit for you.
During the pandemic, it is essential to locate a treatment provider who is set up for telehealth therapy sessions and support. These platforms have proven invaluable during the aftermath of the coronavirus epidemic here in the US. Outpatient services, including basic outpatient therapy, intensive outpatient, or partial hospitalization programs are provided through the telehealth video conferencing systems.
Treating alcohol dependency or addiction relies on a multidisciplinary approach that addresses all aspects of the disease. Once the individual has completed detox they will begin engaging in various therapeutic treatment elements at the rehab. Participating in psychotherapy is key to achieving a sustained recovery.
Behavioral treatments aim to help the individual make lasting changes in their formerly dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns. CBT is a short-term evidence-based therapy that helps people recognize how their irrational thoughts are triggering addictive and self-destructive behaviors. Through CBT the individual learns to replace those disordered patterns with new, healthy, constructive responses.
Other treatment interventions include:
- Dialectical behavior therapy. DBT provides life skills that help the individual focus on four specific areas that are particularly helpful in addiction recovery. These include mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation
- Group therapy. Group sessions are led by a clinician that encourages participation discussing various recovery-related topics
- Family therapy. Family-centered group sessions provides a safe space for family members to participate in their loved one’s recovery efforts
- Education and relapse prevention planning. Psychosocial education equips the individual with the new coping tools and recovery skills to help navigate their world following rehab
- Complementary activities. These activities include such things as art therapy, recreational activities, yoga, mindfulness, massage, nutritional counseling, and DBT skills practice
After Treatment, Then What?
Recovery does not end with the discharge papers from the rehab program, however. On the contrary, the real work of recovery begins the day you complete the program and need to navigate the real world once again. For this reason, aftercare is an essential component in alcoholism care planning.
Following a 30, 60, or 90-day residential treatment program, the individual should have a plan in place to continue to reinforce the newly acquired coping tools and sober lifestyle.
Aftercare, or continuing care, is simply the means by which sobriety is maintained outside of rehab. Three important aspects of aftercare include:
- Sober living housing. Planning for a few months residing in sober living provides an excellent opportunity to slowly transition back to normal daily life while still learning recovery techniques. Sober living offers a great opportunity to reestablish healthy living habits through keeping a regular schedule, adhering to the house rules and responsibilities, and being accountable to the other housemates.
- Outpatient therapy sessions. Ongoing outpatient counseling is also an essential part of aftercare, especially helpful in relapse prevention.
- Recovery meetings. Participation in a 12-step or similar recovery community provides peer support and is a good resource for acquiring new sober friendships while receiving ongoing support in recovery.
Careful planning for beginning your recovery from an alcohol addiction will yield the most successful long-term results.
Ken Seeley Communities Addiction Treatment Serves Coachella Valley
Ken Seeley Communities offers the complete spectrum of alcohol abuse and addiction treatment, a rare entry in the industry. From providing professional intervention services to telehealth-based outpatient programs (an adjustment made during the pandemic) to residential rehabilitation to sober living house and continuing care services, Ken Seeley Communities covers all aspects of treatment and healing in beautiful Palm Springs, CA. If you are wondering ‘where do I get help for alcohol abuse,’ please contact the team today at (877) 744-0502.