Alcohol is a psychoactive, central nervous system depressant that works by slowing down vital functions in one’s body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains “ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches.” Alcoholism, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic brain disorder. It is a medical condition that according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is characterized by “an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences.” There are many different types of treatment options and therapeutic modalities used to treat alcohol dependence. It is important to note that the recovery process is entirely personal, and it will be directly informed by one’s personality, mental health, and emotional needs.
The first step to overcoming alcohol dependence is to undergo detox. Detox is the process that cleanses one’s body of all foreign substances. Due to some of the more severe withdrawal symptoms that commonly present when detoxing from alcohol abuse, it is advised to undergo a medically supervised detox to ensure one’s safety throughout the process. After an individual has successfully completed detox, there are a variety of subsequent treatment options available. Every person is different and will require a customized treatment plan. A tailored treatment plan for an individual recovering from alcohol dependence could include of a combination of different therapeutic approaches, such as:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): this can help correct irrational, inaccurate, and/ or distorted thoughts as well as help an individual develop skills and healthy coping mechanisms for reducing anxiety and stress while remaining sober.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): is based on the principals of CBT, but places greater emphasis on the psychosocial aspects of treatment. Through DBT individuals can learn healthy coping mechanisms and useful techniques for managing stress, regulating emotions, and improving relationships with others.
- Expressive arts therapy (e.g., play therapy, art therapy, music therapy, drama therapy, sand therapy, etc.): provides an alternative medium to express, process and integrate one’s thoughts and feelings surrounding the recovery process.
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR): utilizes guided eye movement techniques to help process one’s memories, thoughts, and emotional associations in relation to abusing alcohol.
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT): is designed to help people address current concerns and improve interpersonal relationships though focusing on how communications and interactions with other people affect one’s own mental health.
- Motivational interviewing (MI): is a counseling method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior.
Depending on one’s needs some may benefit from integrating certain medications into one’s treatment plan. For example, Vivitrol (generically known as naltrexone) is a prescription medicine that was originally approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006 to be used for the treatment of alcohol dependence. To further improve one’s overall health and wellbeing, treatment plans may also include refining one’s daily habits (e.g., practicing mindfulness techniques, exercising regularly, developing healthy sleeping habits, eating nutritiously, etc.). When posed with the question: What is the most effective treatment for alcohol dependence? There is no universal answer that proves successful for everyone, as everyone has nuanced needs when it comes to the recovery process, and the efficacy of each type of treatment modality will depend entirely on each person’s distinct needs.
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Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at: email@example.com.