Most people will enjoy an alcoholic beverage at some point in their lives. In fact, many people drink socially all of the time. Alcohol is routinely served at weddings, religious ceremonies, and social events. It is readily available at gas stations and grocery stores. Notwithstanding these things, alcohol has caused countless people serious problems.
When drinking progresses from a recreational activity to daily use, it has moved one step closer to alcohol abuse. When regular drinking causes legal, financial, and personal problems, continuing to use alcohol despite these consequences is a sign of fast-developing alcohol addiction or alcoholism.
Alcoholism or alcohol addiction occurs when it is no longer possible for a person to stop drinking on their own. When someone is addicted to alcohol, suddenly stopping causes a number of uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms to manifest. People who are addicted to alcohol cannot stop thinking about consuming it. They also lack the ability to control how much they drink. Also known as alcohol use disorder, alcoholism can result in job loss, the loss of important relationships, financial hardship, and health problems.
The most effective way for heavy drinkers to quit safely is by enrolling in a detox program. Our treatment programs in Fort Lauderdale, FL can help you achieve recovery.
How is Alcohol Addiction Diagnosed?
While there are many signs of unhealthy alcohol use, medical professionals often use the presence of withdrawal symptoms when diagnosing alcoholism. When people who are addicted to alcohol abstain, their bodies send out widespread distress signals. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are evidence of significant changes that have occurred throughout the brain and within the brain’s chemistry.
Consuming alcohol causes the brain to release a powerful surge of gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a “feel good” chemical that relaxes the body and creates feelings of happiness and euphoria. Drinking heavily and consuming alcohol frequently wears these neurotransmitters out. Over time, heavy drinking causes GABA to misfire. Misfiring neurotransmitters account for shaking hands, sudden changes in behavior, impaired cognition, and other outward signs of long-term alcohol abuse.
Sadly, stopping alcohol suddenly does not correct the issue. Instead, it often means that all neurotransmitters that have become reliant upon alcohol consumption won’t be produced or released in a reliable fashion. Given that GABA does far more than elevate an intoxicated person’s mood, all of the physical systems that are reliant on this neurotransmitter go haywire during detox. By using withdrawal symptoms as a gauge for addiction, medical professionals can make sure that recovering alcoholics get therapeutic support and medical interventions.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
If you or someone you love has been using alcohol heavily, there are several signs of alcohol use disorder that you can look for. These include:
- Changes in body weight and overall appearance
- Diminished self-care
- Efforts to hide alcohol use
- Lying about how much alcohol has been consumed
- Lowered inhibitions
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Blackout episodes
People who drink regularly and heavily often have a hard time staying on top of their normal responsibilities. They may be unkempt, unable to arrive on time, and unwilling to admit that their behavior and abilities have changed. One very common sign of alcoholism is denial. Many alcoholics will strongly attest to having everything under control.
It’s additionally important to note that there are also functional alcoholics. Functional alcoholics are able to continue going to work or school, taking care of their families, and handling other important tasks. Functional alcoholics are often aided by enabling individuals who clean up after them, pick up their slack, and make excuses for their behaviors.
Can Alcohol Addiction Be Treated?
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a treatable condition. However, it is also recognized as a chronic, lifelong disease. Thus, it cannot be cured. Treatment for AUD is focused on helping the individual safely and successfully detox from alcohol. It also aims to assist the brain and body in healing after withdrawal is complete. Changes in a person’s brain chemistry caused by long-term alcohol use often result in:
- Severe depression
- Lowered motivation
Effective treatments for alcoholism additionally consider the underlying factors that led to this disease. Until the underlying causes of alcohol use disorder are known and managed, recovering alcoholics are always at risk of relapsing. Common causes of alcoholism include:
- Genetic predisposition
- Low self-esteem or feelings of low self-worth
- Co-occurring mental health disorders
- Unresolved guilt or unprocessed grief
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Negative, early-life behavioral conditioning
Some people also drink heavily as a means of alleviating chronic physical pain.
Recovery from alcohol use disorder is ongoing. People must have multi-pronged and needs-specific relapse prevention plans. Those who are most successful in addiction recovery maintain regular, lifelong participation in sober meetings, support groups, private counseling, or other post-treatment support types.
Types of Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Medically supervised detox and withdrawal is the first step in alcohol addiction treatment. Various medications can be used throughout this process to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, stabilize vital signs, promote deep and restful sleep, foster brain healing, and repair the body. Certain medication-assisted treatments (MAT) have the power to eliminate the impulse to drink. These include:
Antabuse causes severe adverse reactions in people who drink when using this medication. Nausea, vomiting, and other unpleasant side effects make people less likely to consume alcohol than if relying on willpower, learned coping strategies, or other relapse prevention techniques alone. Naltrexone blocks the pleasant feelings of relaxation and euphoria that drinking causes so that people are not conditioned to reach for alcohol when they want to feel good. Campral helps normalize brain functioning when the brain has been significantly impaired by long-term alcohol abuse. This drug limits the challenges of long-term addiction recovery by allowing for consistently high levels of motivation and ongoing mood balance.
Dual diagnosis treatment is considered one of the most effective tools in addiction treatment. Dual diagnosis simultaneously treats both alcohol use disorder and underlying mental health issues like:
- Bipolar disorder
- Panic disorder
- General anxiety disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
When people have been using alcohol to self-treat the mental and emotional anguish of these issues, dual diagnosis treatment eliminates the need to continue using alcohol as a coping tool.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Agape TC
At Agape Treatment Center, we consider the health of the whole person. Our addiction treatment programs are designed to promote overall mental, emotional, and physical wellness. During alcohol treatment, we closely monitor our clients and leverage the best and most needs-specific interventions for stabilizing their vital signs, minimizing their physical discomfort, and alleviating their psychological distress. Some of our alcohol treatment programs include:
- Medical Detox
- Outpatient Treatment
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
When our patients are ready, they can take part in group and individual counseling. We offer multiple types of behavioral therapy. We also provide a diverse range of stress management and general wellness services including:
- Yoga instruction
- Guided meditation classes
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Stress management workshops
We additionally offer long-term life planning assistance to help our clients avoid common relapse triggers such as financial stress, joblessness, homelessness, and overwhelming legal issues. Our substance use treatment programs also include outpatient programming and intensive outpatient programs in South Florida. At Agape Treatment Center, we work hard to help all of our clients establish a solid foundation for long-term sobriety.
Aftercare and Relapse Prevention
When someone goes through the work of drug and alcohol rehab, the last thing we want is for them to relapse. Unfortunately, between 40 and 60% of people that have been treated for substance abuse or addiction end up relapsing. These rates are definitely concerning.
The highest risk of relapse is within the first 30-90 days after leaving treatment. With aftercare and relapse prevention, the main goal is to keep those that get clean from relapsing. There are several ways that this type of treatment can help.
Is Treatment Right for Me?
Substance abuse treatment is a good fit for anyone that is experiencing a substance abuse problem and is in need of help. Whether you need inpatient or outpatient treatment, Agape can help you find the perfect treatment plan to fit your needs.
With many different recovery options, patients can stop using and find recovery with the support of our experts. Some people need more intense rehab and will need to check in for inpatient treatments, while other individuals are able to manage things with outpatient programs. The goal is the same regardless of your substance abuse problems: long-term recovery. No matter what your needs are, we are just a phone call away.
Find Healing at Agape Treatment Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL
If substance abuse treatment is something that you believe you need, the first step in receiving that treatment is to reach out today. The treatment professionals at Agape will help you through the steps toward finding long-term recovery.
Contact us today if you or a loved one is interested in our treatment services. We can help you start on the path to healing today.