Addiction treatment professionals approach alcoholism in mostly the same way they would try to treat any other form of chemical dependency. However, there are a few techniques and approaches that are unique to the alcohol abuse treatment process.
An effective treatment program for alcohol abuse is going to include concentrated up-front treatment as well as long-term support to prevent relapse. It may also begin with intervention services to help the individual see the need for, and commit to, entering rehab.
What Should an Effective Alcohol Abuse Treatment Plan Include?
For alcoholism, we’ve identified 12 features a professional treatment plan should include for the highest chances of a successful recovery from alcohol abuse. The best practices for alcohol abuse treatment include:
1. Personal Commitment to Treatment
Although someone who is physically dependent on alcohol can’t choose to stop drinking, he or she can choose to seek out help. In fact, this commitment is critical: No one can force a person to change if the individual hasn’t decided he or she wants the change.
2. Professional Evaluation and an Individualized Plan
Each person turns to alcohol for their own reasons. Creating a treatment plan that is customized to each person’s needs provides the best opportunity for long-term recovery.
At the start of a treatment program, a professional evaluation usually begins with a mental health assessment, medical history review and possibly a physical health examination. The staff should then work with the new client to create an alcohol treatment plan tailored to his or her needs.
This should include a plan for treating underlying issues such as depression, trauma or PTSD. The treatment plan should also accommodate for underlying physical issues, such as alcohol-induced heart and cardiovascular problems or severe damage to the liver.
Detox involves ridding the body of the harmful substance(s), and is the first step in getting the body back to normal functioning.
Detox should be done under medical supervision because, in some cases, the detox process can be dangerous if not done correctly, especially when alcohol is the substance being treated.
Additionally, medically supervised alcohol detox treatment will not only save you from the more dangerous symptoms of alcohol withdrawal (such as seizures or heart attack), but can lessen the severity of post-acute withdrawal symptoms you may have in the first six months after detox.
4. Mind-Body-Spirit Wellness Approach
Since mental, emotional and physical well-being all influence one another, a comprehensive treatment program will seek to heal the whole person, not just cure the physical ailments. Relapse is less likely to occur if the source of alcohol abuse is addressed and the person is taught new skills to build a stable life without the need for substances.
5. Emotional Healing
Individual and group therapy sessions led by professional counselors help recovering alcohol abusers address the emotional and psychological factors that led the person to drink, and heal from events that resulted from the addiction. This trauma-informed approach to substance abuse therapy can help an individual through the process of understanding why he or she turned to alcohol in the first place.
6. Physical Healing
An emphasis on balanced nutrition and healthful physical activity such as walking, hiking, sports, yoga, etc. helps a recovering alcohol user build strength in the short term and begin to develop healthy, lifelong habits. Alcohol is a poison that throws off the physical and nutritional balance in the body, and restoring this balance through nutritional therapy – coupled with creating a healthy exercise routine – will decrease the symptoms felt in early alcohol recovery.
7. Peer Support
The most effective rehabilitation programs will involve some level of interaction between those going through recovery together – usually in the form of discussion groups, social activities, group therapy, 12-step meetings, etc.
8. Groundedness and/or Spirituality
Addiction often stems from, and leads to, feelings of helplessness, insecurity and loss of control. Getting in touch with something that feels solid, reliable and imparts a sense of purpose is an essential piece of the foundation for a healthy life free from addiction.
Some people find this base through religious or spiritual practices, while others learn to mentally tap into an inner core of strength that they can rely on in any circumstance, whether easy or difficult.
9. Education and Training
Clients often come into rehab with gaps in their knowledge about how to address the issues that led to addiction. Small-group educational sessions, which often offer time for questions and discussion, give clients the knowledge and skills they need to build the kind of life they want for themselves once they leave the program.
10. Family Support and Healing
Addiction is especially taxing on relationships with loved ones. A worthwhile rehab program will support clients in mending relationships, and may even have education, support and therapy sessions for family members.
11. Help with Legal and Professional Matters
The kind of problems that come with alcoholism often lead to legal ramifications. To help clients stay focused on their treatment, the top rehab centers should help facilitate communication with legal representatives while clients are in residential treatment.
12. Long-Term Support
Because relapse into alcohol use is common, a robust aftercare support program is an important part of any long-term recovery program. Aftercare should include services such as ongoing counseling, support group and specialist referrals, access to alumni activities, and possibly even assistance with finding employment.
Alcohol treatment aftercare services should not only be proactive in helping the individual return to a life of sobriety, but should offer a clear addiction relapse prevention plan.
Where to Turn for Alcohol Abuse Solutions
With sound treatment and long-term support, overcoming alcohol addiction is a very real possibility. For anyone whose life has been impacted by alcoholism, the key to hope is reaching out to get professional help. No one should have to struggle with addiction alone, especially when there are tried-and-true practices that make recovery a real possibility for so many suffering from alcohol addiction.