Alcohol and Drug Recovery

Before going into fundamental and basis of alcohol and drug recovery, let’s first discuss what addiction is really and why is it almost impossible for some people to get rid of this complex disease!

What is an addiction?

Addiction takes place in the mind. Our brain has three systems; Conscious, subconscious and unconscious. Conscious system is the only one in our control. When we consciously start doing something, it gets registered in all three parts of our brain. When we continue doing the same thing, it transforms into a habit. Addiction is a habit gone out of control.

Medically speaking, drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is out of one’s control, despite harmful consequences. This addiction recruits “Reward Circuits” in the brain by making a newer short connection through the release of a chemical messenger called “dopamine”. This reward circuit motivates a person to repeat pleasurable behaviors. When shorter connections are made in this circuit through drug abuse, the person feels intensely pleasurable “high” every time he takes the drug and is “low” on feelings when he doesn’t(brain adjusts to excess dopamine by reducing dopamine receptors ). This forces him to repeat the process over and over again and stimulate the relatively fewer receptors with the same intensity.

Why is it hard to leave?

Some people think that quitting drugs is a piece of cake and that mere intention is required for a person to stop drug addiction. They think that those who are addicted have low moral standards and they have chosen to be like that for themselves. In reality, drug addiction is a complex process that takes more than just good intentions to stop, even if you want to. Long-term use of drugs makes persistent connections in the brain that produce a vicious cycle.  Most of such people need to go to some drug recovery centers where their therapy is initiated in the form of medications and behavioral rehabilitation.

Alcohol Addiction

In the USA, one in every 12 people suffers from alcohol abuse, and it is the most commonly used addictive substance. Alcohol addiction affects social, emotional, biological and financial aspects of person’s life. Chronic alcohol abuse leads to neurological diseases such as dementia and stroke, psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicide as well as social problems like the financial crisis, family problems, and rude behavior.

Following are some of the facts about alcohol addiction:

  • More than 23 million people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol or other drugs.
  • Approximately 17 million people above age 18 have Alcohol use disorder(AUD).
  • Alcohol abuse is the leading cause of teenage suicide.
  • An average of about 30 years of potential life is lost due to alcohol abuse.
  • It is prevalent in our children, relatives, friends, colleagues and neighbors.

One can understand the importance of alcohol abuse eradication in our society through above-mentioned facts.

Alcohol addiction Treatment

Alcohol addiction is a complex disease, and its treatment involves behavioral as well as medical interventions. Alcohol recovery centers are established to help treat this addiction. One must consider that relapse is part of the treatment and any relapse during treatment must discourage neither patient nor health professionals.

Medical Treatment

FDA has approved three drugs to treat alcohol dependence. These drugs are non-addictive and work by interfering with alcohol metabolism and also by reversing changes in the brain caused by alcohol abuse. These drugs are Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and disulfiram.  

The mechanism of action of disulfiram is pretty interesting. It interrupts with alcohol metabolism in the body causing unpleasant feelings such as nausea, vomiting, and flushing. This gives the person a feeling of unpleasantness associated with alcohol drinking and discourages future use. Acamprosate is important during abstinence.

Behavioral Treatment

This type of treatment focuses on eliminating factors that lead to heavy drinking. Everyone who drinks does not get addicted. Certain events occur in the personal and social life of a patient that lead to binge drinking. This treatment involves strengthening social support system of the patient. This can occur in following ways:

  • To help reduce cues that lead to heavy drinking. These are the feelings a person is upset about and thus drinks in response to mental stress. During treatment, a patient must be counseled to manage the stress of everyday life and events. Patient must be educated to move on with the life and to accept challenges. In this way, triggers that lead to heavy drinking can be reduced.
  • Patient must be educated why treatment is necessary for him, what are its pros and cons, and what are the strategies he can adapt to quit drinking! He must be motivated in every single way to stick to his treatment plan.
  • Involving families in the treatment of a patient; many studies have suggested that chances of maintaining abstinence are more if families are involved in therapy. So through the support of family and friends, a patient will be able to recover quickly and maintain abstinence. Marital and family relations of the patient must be strengthened.

Stages of Treatment

An important aspect of the treatment is that patient should accept there is a problem and he needs to leave this habit. Otherwise, it can have deleterious effects on his social and personal life. There are three stages of treatment:

  • Detoxification: During this process, alcohol withdrawal is carried out under medical supervision and alcohol is eliminated from the body. Withdrawal symptoms can occur during this phase which necessitates the use of medicines. Withdrawal symptoms may include anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, tremors and in some cases more severe like seizures, arrhythmias and high blood pressure. This is a very critical phase of treatment that involves health professionals to monitor patient’s stability and safety. Patient education is also necessary to make him aware of his condition and withdrawal symptoms that he may experience.
  • Rehabilitation: During this step of treatment, counseling by health professionals is required and also medications, as detoxification don’t stop the craving for alcohol. The patient may need services of psychiatrist or psychologist.
  • Maintenance of sobriety: To maintain a state of abstinence, a patient must be motivated with the help of family, friends, social circuit and meetings with health professionals on a regular basis.

Research is still on to produce certain medications that target the specific areas of the brain that are most affected. Anxiety and depression are also treated as part of alcohol treatment. In short, multidisciplinary approach including patient education, family counseling, group therapy and medications are what is required to treat alcohol addiction and to prevent relapses.

To get alcohol and drug recovery, you can give us a call. We will connect you with a drug and alcohol rehab center near you. All in confidential.

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