Alcoholism is a disease that does not discriminate, and millions of people from all age groups and walks of life suffer from addiction to alcoholic beverages. Those who are unable to stop drinking on their own soon suffer severe ramifications due to the disease, including health problems, social and interpersonal issues, and addictions to other drugs or compulsive behaviors.
Though there is no cure for alcoholism, alcohol treatment can provide an effective and efficient source of healing for those who would like to build an alcohol-free life. Chronic health problems related to alcohol addiction such as liver disease, liver failure, heart disease and kidney problems may be addressed during treatment, and psychotherapy can begin the process of healing from trauma and significant issues that took effect prior to the onset of addiction or during active alcoholism.
Driving Forces Behind Alcoholism
Everyone’s experience with alcohol addiction is different, and the forces driving alcohol addiction in one patient may be completely different in another. According to the American Psychological Association, some of the most common causes and contributing factors to the development of alcoholism include:
- Genetics. Patients who were raised with an alcoholic parent or family member or who grew up in an environment where heavy drinking was the norm are more likely to develop a maladaptive relationship with alcohol themselves. Many begin drinking early – some before the age of 12 – and continue to drink more and more until they have a dependence that requires alcohol treatment.
- Environmental factors. If the general consensus in a patient’s upbringing is that alcohol equals fun or that drinking heavily is a normal activity, then it is more likely that that patient will begin to turn to alcohol first when seeking escape from a problem, relaxation, or an outlet for stress. Binge drinking especially is associated with peer influence.
- Co-occurring mental health issues. Those who are living with depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and other mental health problems with significant and life-altering symptoms often seek to self-medicate by drinking heavily. Unfortunately, this usually serves only to exacerbate the original symptoms and create the dual and equal disturbing problem of alcohol addiction.
- History of sexual trauma or physical abuse. Those who have grown up as a witness to or victim of domestic violence are more likely to develop an addiction to alcohol. Similarly, those who have suffered a violent physical or sexual attack or were repeatedly abused may seek to combat feelings caused by the trauma with alcohol and other drugs.
The Basics of Alcohol Treatment
Different alcohol treatment programs have distinct methods for approaching the problem of alcohol addiction. However, there are some basic elements that almost all alcohol rehabs share. According to the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, some of these basic processes include:
- Detox. Alcohol detox is the process of cleansing the body of alcohol-related toxins. During detox, the individual stops drinking alcohol while under the supervision of medical and counseling professionals. The presence of these trained professionals is crucial, as most individuals will suffer from withdrawal symptoms during alcohol detox, and need support and care in order to avoid relapse or any health problems associated with the process.
- Individual counseling. The psychological dependence on alcohol is, in many ways, stronger than the physical addiction to the drug. And like drug addiction, the individual needs to address the problem at the source. Individual counseling is the process by which individuals address their past issues head-on, and learn why they led to chronic alcohol consumption. Once these issues have been “smoked out,” the individual can begin to develop better life strategies and decision-making skills that will help them cope with stress in a more productive way.
- Group counseling. Group sessions involve meeting with other recovering addicts in the alcohol treatment program to discuss past experiences and work together to help one another find solutions to the problem of alcoholism. These sessions are a boon for those individuals who felt alone and isolated because of their drinking problem. The support network that is formed between the participants can help speed up the recovery process.
- Aftercare. Many people often wonder, “What happens when alcohol treatment is over?” Twelve-step programs and follow-up counseling help the individual make the transition back into the “real world.” This is important because oftentimes, family and friends cannot relate to the recovering patient’s experience and aftercare fills that void with understanding and accountability.
Alcohol treatment is available in both inpatient and outpatient form, allowing patients to choose the option that offers the intensity and level of care necessary for their unique experience. Inpatient alcohol treatment, or residential rehab, provides room and board in addition to the alcohol detox, one-on-one therapy, group counseling, and aftercare services described above. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, here are a number of benefits afforded to patients who take advantage of this option, including:
- A chance to focus solely on recovery. The outside world may be filled with distractions and temptations that can lead to relapse. When an individual enters residential alcohol rehabilitation, they are leaving these “environmental” factors behind and entering into a place where the only thing to worry about is recovery and getting well. Residential alcohol treatment facilities are designed to offer a place of peace. Quiet is the order of the day, allowing patients to find the proper balance in their lives.
- Around-the-clock supervision. Individuals with a serious alcohol problem may have reached a point where they can no longer function without drinking. For these individuals, the 24/7 supervision provided by the staff at a residential alcohol treatment facility can be crucial. The staff of counselors and medical professionals in residential rehab facilities help make sure that the individual stays the course and does not harm themselves (or relapse into drinking).
- Daily regimens. With outpatient care, the individual goes home at the end of each day and is free to do whatever they wish with their time. Residential treatment programs provide additional structure, as the bulk of everyone’s daily schedule is laid out in advance. Recovering addicts benefit mightily from this detailed scheduling, as their lives have likely been turned upside down after years of alcohol addiction.
- Programs that enhance wellness. In addition to detox and counseling, many residential alcohol treatment programs also offer a chance to enhance wellness of the mind, body and spirit. These programs can be quite diverse and may include yoga and meditation, nutritional counseling, exercise programs, continuing education opportunities, equine-assisted therapy and more.
- Peer group support. Living alongside other recovering alcoholics can be a transformative event for many individuals. The chance to share experiences during group counseling, and spend time talking about goals, dreams and family in the lounge areas can form a much-needed support structure for those individuals who lived in isolation with their drinking problem for many years.
Outpatient alcohol addiction treatment requires the patient to come into the treatment center multiple days per week in order to take part in counseling and therapy options. A treatment plan is created, much like the residential version of treatment, but little to no medical care is provided for co-occurring medical disorders related to chronic alcoholism and there is no alcohol detox option to address withdrawal symptoms. Instead, outpatient alcohol treatment is designed to meet the needs of patients who are stabilized physically and mentally and require only psychotherapeutic treatment to avoid relapse during recovery.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports a number of benefits of outpatient care, including:
- Relaxed schedule. Unlike inpatient treatment, patients have more control over their daily schedule. Though they are required to attend mandatory counseling sessions, they may still be able to schedule college classes, work part-time, or care for dependent family members when they are not at treatment.
- Family support. Those who live with supportive family members may find that the ability to return home each night is helpful to their recovery. Additionally, there is an increased opportunity to spend quality time with spouses and children, and rebuild the bonds fractured by active alcoholism.
- Random drug testing. Because patients are allowed to go home each night and spend the bulk of their time without supervision, random drug testing is usually implemented to ensure the integrity of the program. This allows the patient to enjoy increased accountability for his or her actions, a big part of a positive recovery.
- Lower price tag. Most outpatient alcohol treatment programs are less expensive than their residential counterparts. In some cases, outpatient treatment may be the only form of care covered by a health insurance company. This can mean the difference between receiving the necessary treatment for alcohol addiction and allowing the problem to continue untreated.
Holistic care is gaining more and more recognition as the optimum in addiction treatment. By combining a wide range of therapies, alternative treatments, and alternative options like nutritional counseling, animal therapies, yoga, meditation and more, patients have even more opportunities to participate in a well-rounded addiction treatment program that addresses the “whole body.” Traditional treatments play a big part in holistic treatments and are generally offered as an option, but each patient is encouraged to take an active part in his or her care and define what works best for their individual experience.
Here’s what else you can expect to find at a holistic addiction treatment program:
- Individualized care. No two patients will experience the exact same treatment plan at a holistic alcohol rehab. Rather, treatments and therapies are chosen based on their evidence-based ability to address the specific needs of the patient. Past history prior to the onset of alcohol addiction as well as issues that developed during addiction and suspected co-occurring behavioral or compulsive issues that are as-yet undiagnosed are all taken into consideration.
- Holistic detox. While many patients opt for pharmacological care when going through withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol detox, a holistic addiction treatment program provides the option of augmenting or replacing medication with alternative choices. Chosen according to the experience of the patient, this may include acupuncture, herbs, yoga, bodywork and massage, aromatherapy and more.
- Alternative therapies. Patients will be able to take part in traditional 12-step meetings and personal or group counseling sessions at a holistic alcohol rehab, but they will also enjoy access to alternative options as well. Cinema therapy, psychodrama, art therapy, equine-assisted therapy, outdoors and adventures courses, and more may be included in a patient’s treatment plan.
- Healthy living. Just as important as therapeutic treatment, holistic treatment focuses on caring for the physical body beyond detox, spiritual growth and emotional progress. Learning how to care for oneself through nutrition, gentle exercise, and exploration of goals and hobbies also plays a part in holistic care.
Traditional alcohol treatment offers patients access to the basics of evidence-based care as prescribed by decades of practice in substance abuse treatment. Rather than emphasize new and alternative techniques, patients focus their time and energy on the practice of the 12 steps and traditions, and work on developing an honest and philanthropic view in life. Some of the common components found in traditional alcohol rehab programs include:
- 12-step meetings. Working the steps and learning how to ask for help from a sponsor and share experiences with peers can lead to accountability in recovery.
- Personal therapy. Intense one-on-one work with a substance abuse treatment professional can address the issues that may have been a precursor to alcoholism.
- Support group meetings. Peer support is essential in navigating the ups and downs of recovery, both during alcohol rehab and after.
- Volunteer service. Learning to prioritize the needs of others can minimize issues in one’s own personal life and shift focus from detrimental behaviors.
- Continued care. Ongoing treatment that provides continued guidance and support in recovery helps alcoholics to remain alcohol-free despite temptations and stressors.
Short-Term Versus Long-Term Treatment
The choice between short-term and long-term treatment should be based upon your needs and your rate of progress in recovery, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. This is a highly individual choice and one that can be updated or changed depending upon your experience in treatment. For example, you may at first enroll in a 30-day treatment program and then decide to extend your stay if you feel that you need a bit more time.
If you are unsure about your ability to remain abstinent at home or feel that your home environment is not conducive to a sober lifestyle, you can discuss the option of continued treatment with your therapeutic team. You also have the option of extending your stay at a residential facility while adjusting the focus of your time to suit your level of recovery. Sober living offers you the opportunity to remain in a safe environment for an extended period while allowing you to begin the process of finding a new place to live and a job that is conducive to your new lifestyle.
Rehab at Michael’s House
Michael’s House is a luxury treatment center located in Southern California. We provide alcohol detox, a wide range of physical and psychological treatment choices, and alternative therapeutic treatment in addition to one-on-one therapy and group sessions, allowing you to build a unique individualized treatment plan that works for you.
Contact us today at 877-345-8494 for more information about our facility or to learn more about our holistic alcohol treatment philosophy here at Michael’s House.