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Future Health

Alcohol Treatment Options

April 12, 2013 

Alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse are patterns of addictive behavior that can be safely treated through medication assisted detox centers and facilities, or through a wide range of health care options including programs with physicians, psychiatrists, and behavioral specialists. A variety of treatment opportunities are available, you need only select the right one for you.
Most treatment options are based on age, severity of abuse, location, or therapy preference. From brief interventions to 28-day, in-patient programs, there is an option for everyone out there.

Let's take a closer look at each option...

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
This option uses pharmacotherapy and behavioral counseling simultaneously in a comprehensive approach to alcohol abuse. The FDA has approved several medications that can be used in this program, such as compounds that cause unpleasant physical symptoms if alcohol is ingested. In combination with counseling and behavior therapy, these can provide effective treatments for substance abuse.

Psycho-social therapy 
This is a behavior modification therapy based on regular meetings with a therapist. This therapy may be used both during a crisis, as well as during recovery. The goal is to reduce the frequency of use of alcohol, rather than to persuade the patient to reject alcohol entirely, through educational awareness of alcohol's negative effects on the body. In this type of therapy, counselors work one-on-one with patients and help them assess the effect drinking has on their lives and their productivity. This therapy is more effective for individuals who abuse alcohol or have recently started to abuse alcohol rather than those who already become alcohol dependent.

Peer to peer groups (AA, NA, smart recovery etc.)
Rather than rely on professionals, this method allows individuals to meet with others in a group anonymously - as in Alcoholics Anonymous or AA - where individuals share experiences with each other and give advice. Often, members have sponsors who provide support. This method offers an effective follow-up to recovery, but works best coupled with psycho-social therapy conducted by a professional. 
In-patient programs (average 28 days)
This method offers a structured, residential program with professional help. While the average stay is 28 days, some patients need to stay longer. Since physicians are on staff, this may be a more effective option for individuals who are dependent on alcohol because they can receive medications to assist their recovery.

Intensive Out-patient programs (IOP)
These programs are often located in a hospital or rehabilitation environment, and staffed by professionals. Patients usually attend three days a week for as long as 8 hours a day. This alternative to an in-patient programs allows patients to live at home, and perhaps keep a job. Some less intensive programs are also available when appropriate.

Brief consultations
In this method, patients meet with a professional to gain knowledge and develop a plan to change a targeted behavior, or behaviors. A trained professional such as a physician, psychiatrist, behavioral psychologist or social worker conducts the meeting.
Whether you need to keep up your attendance at your job, or want to stay in a hotel-like environment with professional staff helping you the whole way through, treatment exists and is effective if proper goals are set and you are armed with the information to seek the right option.