Alcoholism treatment is the starting point for long-lasting recovery from alcohol addiction. Sustained sobriety is possible for anyone with alcoholism who is ready to address their addiction.
There are many treatment options for people ready to recover from alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD). People have unique life situations, medical histories, personalities and varying histories of alcohol use, so no one’s addiction treatment is exactly the same. This aspect is why seeking professional addiction treatment is the key to success.
Another reason for seeking professional treatment are safety concerns. Withdrawal from chronic alcohol use can be life-threatening. With professional treatment, medical experts can monitor clients to ensure their safety and follow a treatment plan individualized for their unique needs.
There are excellent options for alcohol rehab and alcohol treatment in Florida. The Recovery Village has two locations in Central Florida: the Orlando Recovery Center and The Recovery Village Umatilla; in addition to the newest facility, The Recovery Village Palm Beach, in South Florida. Teens living with alcohol addiction can find professional treatment at Next Generation Village, located in Sebring.
Signs of Alcoholism
Signs of alcoholism are sometimes difficult to spot because when it comes to addiction, people are often secretive, deny their behaviors (even to themselves) and rationalize their alcohol use. Some signs of alcoholism include:
- The inability to stop or control alcohol use, despite negative consequences
- Using alcohol to cope with stress, negative emotions or mental health symptoms
- The development of tolerance
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using alcohol
- Neglecting responsibilities or important activities due to alcohol use
- Using alcohol as an “eye-opener” in the morning
- Feeling guilty about alcohol use
- Other people suggesting stopping using alcohol
- Craving alcohol
Physical signs of alcoholism are often subtle, as the brain and other organ effects may not have outward signs until there is an advanced alcohol-related disease. Most of the early signs of alcoholism are behavioral.
There is no specific medical lab test that diagnoses AUD, but the DSM-5 (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition) suggests an eleven-question diagnostic tool.
What to Expect in Alcohol Rehab
The AUD rehabilitation process occurs in a few phases that treat all aspects of alcohol addiction. The professional approach to treating AUD is holistic, meaning that it treats the whole person rather than just the physical illness. This aspect is the basis of the “biopsychosocial” approach to treating substance addictions.
This treatment approach is upheld by years of experience and overwhelming amounts of clinical research to be the most effective way of returning people with AUD and other types of addiction to good health and long-lasting recovery.
The biopsychosocial approach to treatment addresses all the underlying causes and effects of substance addiction:
- Spiritual (not necessarily religious)
There are four main phases of effective AUD rehab:
- Assessment: Each patient’s unique needs are analyzed in this phase. The degree of alcohol use, other substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders will affect the formulated treatment plan.
- Detox: In this phase the process of ridding the body of alcohol and its toxic metabolites takes place.
- Rehab: This process is when the underlying causes of the AUD and the damaging effects of alcohol use and the associated behaviors are identified and addressed. The rehab process can involve different components:
- Group and individual counseling (trauma recovery, self-esteem, insight into addiction and triggers, interpersonal relationships, etc.)
- Recreational therapy
- Medication management, if applicable
- Management of co-occurring mental health disorders
- Family therapy
- Aftercare and discharge planning
- Health care
- Healthy living: diet, exercise, social activities and proper sleep
- Aftercare: Like other substance addictions, AUD is a chronic condition. Recovery requires ongoing attention to prevent setbacks in sobriety. Aftercare is a plan of action designed to optimize an individual’s potential for long-term recovery
To recover from AUD, people must first go through the process of ridding the body of alcohol and its toxic metabolites. That process is known as detoxification, commonly referred to as detox. As the body clears the substances, the unpleasant experience of withdrawal occurs.
Alcohol is dangerous to detox from because of two complications that are unique to alcohol: seizures and DTs (delirium tremens). Even without these dangerous complications, withdrawal can be a highly unpleasant experience.
The safest and most comfortable way to get through the withdrawal phase and transition into treatment is by participating in a medical detox program.
Alcohol Detox Medications
Medication-assisted treatment consists of two types of medications: those used to help people through detox safely and those that aid recovery by helping to prevent sobriety setbacks. Individuals can decide with their doctor if any of these medications are right for them.
Medications used for alcohol detox may include:
- Benzodiazepines: for seizure prevention, sedation, and reducing agitation and anxiety
- Heart and blood pressure medications (such as beta blockers or clonidine)
- Anti-seizure medications
- Muscle relaxants
- Thiamine and magnesium: to treat nutritional deficiencies associated with alcohol use that can have serious medical consequences
Medications used to help reduce cravings and help prevent relapse include:
Alcohol Detox Timeline
Every person’s detox experience is different, so there is some variation in the exact timeline that each person’s detox will follow.
Factors that Affect Withdrawal
The severity, time of onset and duration of withdrawal symptoms depend heavily on the individual’s specific characteristics, particularly:
- Age and gender
- General health
- Health status of the liver (which metabolizes alcohol and detoxes the body)
- The number of previous episodes of AWS (due to the kindling effect)
- Genetic and biological make-up
- Whether the detox is medically assisted
Average Withdrawal Timeline
However, in general, the symptoms of alcohol detox usually follow a rough timeline:
- Symptoms begin about six hours after the last drink, but can start anywhere from two hours to a few days after the last drink
- Symptoms peak between 24 and 72 hours
- Symptoms taper off after about seven days
- Delirium tremens (DTs), if they occur, usually start 48 to 72 hours after withdrawal symptoms appear and typically last two to three days
- Withdrawal seizures, if they occur, start about six to 48 hours after the last drink
Inpatient Alcohol Rehab
Inpatient rehab, also known as residential rehab, involves staying at the rehab facility during the entire treatment, with 24-hour, professional supervision. There are three main types of inpatient treatment programs:
Inpatient alcohol rehab is the mainstay of treatment for most individuals with AUD, offering significant benefits over outpatient programs, including:
- Relief from outside distractions, temptations, negative influences and triggers
- Relief from any toxic relationships or environments
- Allowing for a more intensive, focused treatment program
- Providing a social environment conducive to healing; a “culture of recovery”
- Ensuring that the individual has substantial recovery time by the time of discharge
- Allowing for close medical supervision and medication optimization, if applicable
Inpatient alcohol rehab removes people from distractions or triggers and places them in safe, healthy surroundings. This process allows people to reorient their lives and thought processes, and to focus on recovery without having to concern themselves with outside distractions.
A PHP involves on-site housing and 24 hour a day access to staff, but after-hours routines are less regimented and individuals have more personal freedom. The PHP is appropriate for people who can be more self-directed in their routine and who have a better than average expectation of success. The presence of a strong support system is a requirement.
Long-term residential treatment programs last three to 12 months and are appropriate for individuals who:
- Have relapsed back into alcohol use despite completing previous rehab programs
- Have a dual-diagnosis (such as addiction and bipolar disorder)
- Feel more comfortable with the added security a longer treatment program
Long-term residential treatment programs usually use a therapeutic approach known as the therapeutic community, which focuses on re-socializing people whose alcohol use impaired their ability to fit back into society, such as:
- People with a history of serious criminal behavior
- The homeless
- Vulnerable people (such as adolescents or those with serious mental health disorders)
Outpatient Alcohol Rehab
Outpatient alcohol rehab involves living at home or in a sober living home and attending treatment activities at an outpatient rehab facility during the day.
Most people with AUD will likely be best suited to inpatient rehab, but an outpatient program may be appropriate if:
- The individual’s physician is aware of the AUD and agrees with the outpatient treatment
- The individual is already detoxed from alcohol and free of withdrawal effects
- The alcohol abuse was relatively mild or of short duration
- The individual has a safe, alcohol-free place to live
- The individual is strongly motivated to stop using alcohol
- There are no co-occurring substance use or mental health disorders
- There is a good support system in place
- The individual does not live alone
A different type of outpatient rehab program is an intensive outpatient program (IOP). The IOP is meant for people who completed an inpatient rehab program but require ongoing support as they transition to community living. The IOP provides ongoing therapy, such as group or individual counseling, medication management, relapse prevention and treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders.
Counseling and Aftercare
Long-term recovery requires ongoing attention to prevent a return of the same conditions that caused the AUD, thereby preventing a setback.
Aftercare planning is an important part of the rehab process because it ensures that there is a plan of action in place to support ongoing recovery. Aftercare can include some or all of various components:
- Maintenance of medications
- Continued individual or group counseling
- Local support groups
- Intensive outpatient programs
- Sober-living homes
- Follow-up for any co-occurring substance use or mental health disorders
- Relapse prevention training
Finding Treatment for Alcoholism in South Florida
Some resources for finding rehab facilities include:
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (finding and getting help)
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (treatment navigator)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Costs of Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Many people neglect seeking treatment because they’re wary about costs. However, the cost of ignoring alcohol addiction can far outweigh the actual costs of treatment.
At The Recovery Village Palm Beach, representatives can help clients with various options for paying for the needed rehab treatment, such as:
- Coverage from private health insurance
- Payment plans
- Crowdfunding or fundraising
- Treatment scholarships, grants or loans
- The Affordable Care Act
- State and local government programs
- SAMHSA grants
The Recovery Village Palm Beach accepts a variety of insurance plans and works with clients to develop payment plans so they can make healing a priority. The Recovery Village’s insurance verification tool can help people work out viable options.
If you or a loved one are ready to address a substance abuse disorder, contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach today to speak with a representative about how addiction treatment can help. You deserve a healthier future, call today.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Alcohol Use Disorder.” Accessed July 9, 2019.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Treatment for alcohol problems: finding and getting help.” 2014. Accessed July 3, 2019.
Rogawski, Michael. “Update on the neurobiology of alcohol withdrawal seizures.” Epilepsy Currents, November 2005. Accessed July 3, 2019.
Sachdeva, Ankur; Choudhary, Mona; Chandra, Mina. “Alcohol withdrawal syndrome: Benzodiazepines and beyond.” Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, September 2015. Accessed July 3, 2019.
Schuckit, Marc. “Recognition and management of withdrawal delirium (delirium tremens).” The New England Journal of Medicine, November 27, 2014. Accessed July 3, 2019.
Skewes, Monica; Gonzalez, Vivian. “The biopsychosocial model of addiction.” Principles of Addiction, 2013. Accessed July 3, 2019.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Find treatment.” Accessed July 3, 2019.
Vanderplasschen, Wouter; Yates, Rowdy; Miovský, Michal. “Bridging the gap between research and practice in therapeutic communities (TCs) for addictions.” Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery, June 23, 2017. Accessed July 3, 2019.