Alcohol use disorder – otherwise known as alcohol addiction or alcohol dependency – is a chronic medical condition in which you are unable to control how much alcohol you can drink and are preoccupied with alcohol when you’re not drinking.
Despite the fact that it is a legitimate medical condition that affects more than 3 million people in the United States every year, far too many people think alcohol disorder is some kind of moral failing that can only be overcome through sheer willpower. While overcoming alcohol addiction does require a conscious decision to get sober, that is only the first part of alcohol addiction treatment. Alcohol use disorder is a brain disease in that alcohol alters your brain chemistry in a way that makes it incredibly difficult to quit drinking. In severe cases, the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can even be fatal.
You might be able to quit drinking on your own if you only have a mild case of alcohol use disorder, but you are far more likely to require treatment if you are to truly overcome your alcohol addiction.
Start by Speaking to Your Doctor
The first step in treating alcohol use disorder after deciding that you want to get sober is to talk to your doctor. Remember that alcohol use disorder is a legitimate medical condition, and it can be diagnosed by a medical professional. Some of the signs of alcohol use disorder include:
- The feeling that you have to drink alcohol
- Feeling bad when you can’t drink alcohol
- Being unable to control how much alcohol you drink once you start
If you meet these criteria, you might have alcohol use disorder and should seek treatment. Your doctor can give you recommendations, but there are several options available to you, from residential treatment programs that require you to stay at a treatment center for a period of time to outpatient programs that allow you to stay at home and report to a center for treatment. Many people opt for a combination of these two treatment types, but whichever one is right for you will depend on your situation.
If you have a severe physical addiction to alcohol, the first part of your treatment will likely be detox. The goal here is to stop drinking and let your body get used to not having alcohol in its system. This is incredibly difficult since you will be hit with withdrawal symptoms such as hallucinations, tremors, and seizures. As we discussed before, some of these symptoms can be life-threatening, so you should never attempt to detox without the help of a medical professional. This step can last anywhere from a few days to a week. The medical staff of your treatment center will keep a close eye on you during this time and can administer medication to treat your symptoms if they are getting out of hand.
Detoxing will help you overcome your physical addiction to alcohol, but it won’t address the underlying cause of your drinking, nor will it teach you healthy habits to avoid drinking in the future. This is why counseling is such a major part of any alcohol treatment program. Your counselor can help you identify the underlying cause of your drinking, deal with stress in healthy ways, set goals, and help you build a support network. This counseling can be one-on-one, but group therapy with others who are undergoing treatment and family therapy are options as well. This part of your treatment can last for months or even years. Recovery from alcohol use disorder is an ongoing process, one that could last for the rest of your life. You need to address the factors that drove you to drink in the first place and make sure that you avoid the triggers that could cause you to relapse.
Alcohol use disorder is a condition that affects millions of people all over the world, but there is always hope for recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol addiction, contact our treatment center today. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, and they can help you find a treatment solution that works best for you and your family. Call us at 833-497-3808.