Alcoholism: Diagnosis & Treatment
Admitting that you have a problem is the first logical step in treating addiction. For most people, this remains the most challenging task. This confrontation and acceptance of the fact are not easy by any standards. However, it is essential before you begin your journey towards recovery and health. When you have alcohol dependence, limiting your alcohol consumption does not help. You need to give up alcohol entirely. Along with your determination, you need professional medical help in terms of detoxification, medications, counseling, and other treatment options.
Earlier, an alcoholic was the term used to refer to a person
with this condition. Over time this term got associated with negativity, and
now alcoholism is called ‘alcohol use disorder’ (AUD). The alcohol
consumption in India will alarmingly reach
6.5 billion liters by 2020 end. It indicates the severity of the situation and
demands awareness regarding the issue of alcoholism.
What is Alcoholism?
Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD) occurs when a person
loses control over their drinking habits. It is a stage where the individual
feels that he cannot function without alcohol. Consider alcohol disorder more
of brain disease. Regular consumption cause changes in your brain, making it
hard to quit. One can try hard enough to quit, but it remains a futile attempt
without proper professional guidance.
Alcoholism causes a wide range of health issues that impact an
individual’s professional and personal relationships. You will face several
problems, both mentally and physically.
Types of Alcoholics
Based on the amount one drinks, time spent, and the effect of
alcohol on a person, AUD is often categorized into the following five
- Young Adult Subtype: the ones without any family histories or
recurring mental illness.
- Young Antisocial Subtype: these have a family history of
alcoholism, suffer from co-occurring mental illness and probable addiction to
- Functional Subtype: With a history of alcoholism, these are
middle-aged with a successful and stable occupation.
- Intermediate Familial Subtype: these are middle-aged people with
a prior depressive episode and family history of alcoholism.
- Chronic Severe Subtype: middle-aged people with a family history
of mental illness, alcoholism, and other substance addiction.
Be vigilant and pay attention to the slightest changes in
behavior if you suspect someone close to you is suffering from AUD. There are
specific behavioral patterns that can confirm your doubt:
- Alcohol consumption goes beyond control
- Having intense cravings to drink
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol such that the person can drink more
- Having a drink to feel confident or good.
- Hiding alcohol in unusual places at the workplace and home.
- Drinking alone or maintaining secrecy while drinking
- Unusual behavior when the person does not get the opportunity to drink
- Continuing the habit despite the detrimental effect on work and family
- Preferring to drink over other activities like spending time with family and friends
- Regular forgetfulness regarding what you did or who you were with.
That’s not all; specific symptoms come in prominence when the individual
is unable to drink. These are withdrawal symptoms that may include:
- Nausea etc
Treatment for AUD
The ideal treatment for alcoholism will vary depending on the
individual. The procedure may come in different forms, like counseling,
intervention, and residential programs. The central objective of every type of
treatment is to stop the use of alcohol and improve health and quality of
The effective treatments for AUD may include:
- Psychological Counseling: It leads to a better understanding of the underlying problems and encourages quick recovery. These counseling sessions may be individual, in a group, or along with family members.
- Detoxification: It is the initial step of the treatment. The detox schedule may continue from two to seven days. It also includes sedation medications to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
- Designing a treatment plan: Here comes the role of specialists. It involves a mix of different methods like goal setting, self-help, counseling, behavior change techniques, and follow-up care.
- Medications: Oral or injected medications also have an integral role to play in the treatment plan. The choice of medication depends on the suggestion of the medical professional. The response of the addict is also taken into consideration.
- Diet: A healthy diet, as prescribed by the dieticians, is a supportive measure of the comprehensive treatment plan. It helps to bring back the health and vigor of the body.
- Yoga & Meditation: Regular yoga and meditation sessions, improve the mental health and physical stamina of the individual. It works best in diverting the focus towards the inner energies of the human body.
- Spirituality: Involvement in spiritual practices develops a support system for the individual and provides inner strength. Gaining insight into the spiritual side is a critical element of recovery.
- Continuing support: The people recovering from alcohol use disorder have the challenge of managing relapses and adopt lifestyle changes. Aftercare programs and support groups are helpful here.
Residential treatment programs
In most of the AUD cases, a residential treatment program has
proven to be the most effective. Primarily, you are in the caring hands of the
experts, and continuous guidance and monitoring are possible. These residential
programs adopt a comprehensive approach in their treatment plans and hence hold
more promises of permanent recovery from alcoholism.
The recovery from alcoholism significantly depends on how early
the symptoms of AUD are identified in the individual, and professional advice
is availed. Continual treatment program involving addiction experts and
professionals and a supportive family environment is of great help here.