Whether you decide on inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation, detox is an essential beginning step towards recovery. Because of the potentially serious medical concerns of alcohol withdrawal, we recommend professional detox (rather than quitting cold turkey at home). Detox can be completed in an inpatient or outpatient facility depending on the severity of the addiction and any medical complications that are present.
Most people with alcohol problems do not decide to make a big change out of the blue or transform their drinking habits overnight. Recovery is usually a more gradual process. In the early stages of change, denial is a huge obstacle. Even after admitting you have a drinking problem, you may make excuses and drag your feet. It’s important to acknowledge your ambivalence about stopping drinking. If you’re not sure if you’re ready to change or you’re struggling with the decision, it can help to think about the costs and benefits of each choice.
Research shows drug use is more common among arrestees than the general population. The Office of National Drug Control Policy reported that 63 to 83 percent of people arrested in five major metropolitan areas in 2013 tested positive for at least one illicit drug. The three most common drugs present during tests were marijuana, cocaine and opiates, and many people tested positive for multiple drugs.
Unfortunately, only 20% of those who abuse alcohol will ever get help. Part of the reason that many people choose not to get help may be the blurred lines between socially acceptable drinking and alcoholism. While any usage of illegal drugs is considered a problem, a certain amount of alcohol usage is considered normal and acceptable. For more information about how much alcohol is safe to consume and how to tell if you or a loved one qualify as having an alcohol use disorder, read our guide to alcohol addiction.
For others, dependency comes after a prolonged period of difficulty in their life. Drinking might appear to be a good method of coping in these situations, and sufferers will often start as a ‘stop-gap’, just to tide them over until conditions improve. Nevertheless, as drinking begins to impact relationships and responsibilities, and hangovers exacerbate the very stress the drinking sought to avoid, the difficulties can increase, encouraging yet more drinking and leading to a vicious cycle.
A number of serious problems are closely linked to alcohol intoxication. In fact, according to the NIAAA, intoxication is present in 30% of homicides, 22% of suicides, and 33% of car crashes. Any patient who presents an imminent safety risk to themselves or another person should be considered a candidate for hospitalization. This may require the assistance of family members or medical consultation with a psychiatrist.
One of the most common forms of aftercare is mutual-support groups, such as AA. Since AA’s approach faith-based, 12-step approach isn’t right for everyone, other types of support groups are also available. Whatever option you choose, regularly attending groups can help you maintain abstinence by providing a support system with positive relationships from which to draw encouragement.
If someone you love has a drinking problem, you may be struggling with how to help them and how to avoid being overwhelmed. You are probably feeling a combination of anger, fear, shame, and sometimes even guilt. At times, it may seem easier to ignore the problem. But denying it will only cause more damage to you, your family, and the person drinking. I hope some of these suggestions will help.
Ongoing support and aftercare are essential to this type of sustained, long-term recovery. Many drug abuse rehab centers feature robust aftercare programs, including ongoing individual therapy sessions on a periodic basis, group therapy meetings, and alumni events. Oftentimes, alumni are also encouraged to get involved in their own recovery community by participating in 12-step meetings or residing in a sober living home. If recovering addicts have people they can turn to for support when they are tempted to relapse, they are more likely to stand strong and resist the urge to use again.
Withdrawal can begin soon after the cessation of drug use and will likely peak in intensity in the first 24 to 48 hours. If severe withdrawal is left unchecked, in some instances it can be fatal. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of withdrawal should be under a doctor’s care, and for drug addicts entering treatment medical detox is often required before therapy for addiction can begin.
Nalmefene, an opiate antagonist that is similar in its chemical structure to naltrexone, is one of the most recent drugs being investigated for the treatment of alcoholism. Like naltrexone (sold as ReVia, Depade, or Vivitrol), nalmefene deprives the person struggling with substance use of the pleasurable feelings associated with drinking. But nalmefene is less toxic to the liver than naltrexone. As of 2013, nalmefene was still undergoing clinical trials through the U.S. National Institutes of Health before receiving FDA approval. From Rehab to a Body Bag | Dying for Treatment: VICE Reports (Full Length)