Cheers to Tears

Understanding Alcoholism as a Chronic Disease: Treatment Options and Support Programs

Alcoholism is a disease that affects millions of people around the world. Despite the common belief that alcoholism is a choice, it is considered a biological illness by many medical professionals.

According to the American Medical Association, alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease that can result in impulsive behaviors, compulsive decision-making, and relapse. In this article, we will discuss the characteristics of alcoholism as a disease, the institutions applying the disease concept to alcoholism, and the cycle of alcohol addiction.

Characteristics of Alcoholism as a Disease

In the early 1950s, the American Medical Association recognized alcoholism as a disease. This shift in thinking was due to the growing body of evidence suggesting that alcoholism was not a moral failing or lack of willpower.

Instead, it was a disease that affected the brain’s chemistry, behavior, and physical functioning. Alcoholism is a chronic disease that requires ongoing treatment and support.

It can range in severity from mild to severe and can have a predictable timeline of development and recovery. The signs and symptoms of alcoholism can include:

Drinking alone or in secret

Increased tolerance to alcohol

Withdrawal symptoms

Drinking despite negative consequences

Preoccupation with alcohol

Loss of control over drinking or inability to stop

Continued use of alcohol despite causing problems in relationships or work

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Alcoholism is also known as

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). It is a disorder that is caused by a combination of genetic, social, and environmental factors.

It is a chronic disease that can cause continuous or periodic symptoms that impact a person’s ability to function in daily life. Drinking alcohol can cause changes in the brain’s chemistry that make it difficult for people to control their consumption.

People with AUD may experience symptoms such as:

Inability to stop drinking

Loss of control over drinking

Development of a tolerance to alcohol

Drinking despite negative consequences

Preoccupation with alcohol

Distorted thoughts, including denial

Drinking for reasons other than socialization or relaxation

Institutions Applying the Disease Concept to Alcoholism

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, American Psychiatric Association, Alcoholics Anonymous, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, American Society of Addiction Medicine, and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism are some of the institutions that apply the disease concept to alcoholism. These institutions recognize alcoholism as a biological illness that requires medical attention.

The Cycle of Alcohol Addiction as a Disease

The three-phase cycle of substance use disorders begins with the reward system of repeated use. The basal ganglia is the part of the brain responsible for rewarding behaviors, such as eating and drinking.

When a person consumes alcohol, it triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good. Over time, the basal ganglia adapts to the repeated release of dopamine, leading to intense cravings for alcohol.

The second phase of the cycle is binge drinking. Binging is defined as drinking five (male) or four (female) drinks in two hours.

This phase of the cycle is often where people begin to experience negative consequences, such as blackouts or accidents. Despite these negative outcomes, people with AUD continue to drink to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

The third and final phase of the cycle is the development of tolerance. Tolerance occurs when the basal ganglia adapts to the repeated use of alcohol, making it more difficult for people to feel the same effects as they did when they first started drinking.

This can lead to a cycle of drinking more to achieve the same effect, leading to a greater risk of negative outcomes.

Treating Alcoholism

There is currently no known cure for alcoholism, but there are treatments available. Inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities offer detox, therapy and counseling, treatment medication, partial hospitalization programs, and aftercare programs and support groups.

These treatment options are designed to help people manage their symptoms and develop strategies to avoid relapse. Alcoholism is a disease that requires ongoing attention and support.

While there is no cure, there are treatments available that can help people manage their symptoms and live a healthier life. It’s important to recognize the disease concept of alcoholism if it’s experienced by someone close to you so that early intervention and treatment can be given to avoid a worst-case scenario.

Professional Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that affects millions of people around the world. It can range in severity from mild to severe and can cause a wide range of symptoms that impact a person’s ability to function on a daily basis.

Fortunately, there are effective treatments available for alcoholism that can provide relief and support to those struggling with this disease. In this article, we will explore the various professional treatments available to individuals struggling with alcoholism.

Rehab Treatment Programs

One of the most common types of professional treatment for alcoholism is rehabilitation. Rehabilitation programs are available in both inpatient and outpatient facilities and typically provide a combination of detox, therapy and counseling, and treatment medication.

Inpatient rehab programs are ideal for those struggling with severe alcoholism that requires medical supervision for detoxification. They provide a structured environment where individuals can focus entirely on their recovery without the distractions and temptations of daily life.

These programs offer round-the-clock medical supervision, medication-assisted detoxification, and individual and group therapy sessions. Outpatient rehab programs, on the other hand, allow individuals to receive treatment while still maintaining their regular work or home commitments.

Outpatient programs typically offer similar therapy and treatment options as inpatient facilities but allow patients to return home at the end of the day.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Another popular professional treatment option for alcoholism is the

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). Similar to outpatient rehab programs, PHPs offer therapy and treatment in a structured therapeutic environment.

However, they differ from traditional outpatient programs in that patients spend the majority of their day in treatment. PHPs are ideal for individuals who require more support than traditional outpatient therapy but do not need the round-the-clock medical supervision offered by inpatient facilities.

Patients in PHPs receive a full range of behavioral therapy and psychiatric services and return home at the end of the day to continue their recovery.

Medications

There are several medications available to help those struggling with alcoholism manage their symptoms. These medications work to reduce cravings and withdrawal effects, making it easier for individuals to abstain from alcohol long-term.

Some of the most common medications used to treat alcoholism include:

Naltrexone: This medication works by blocking the effects of alcohol on the brain, making it less rewarding to consume. It is also used to reduce cravings and has been shown to be effective for long-term abstinence.

Disulfiram: This medication works by causing unpleasant side effects when alcohol is consumed. This medication is often used as a deterrent to drinking and can be an effective tool in helping individuals abstain from alcohol over the long-term.

Acamprosate: This medication works by stabilizing chemical imbalances in the brain caused by alcohol abuse. It is often prescribed to those who have already stopped drinking and helps manage the symptoms of withdrawal.

Aftercare Programs and Support Groups

Aftercare programs and support groups provide individuals with a network of support and accountability after they have completed inpatient or outpatient treatment. These programs are designed to help individuals abstain from alcohol long-term and prevent relapse.

Some common aftercare programs and support groups for those struggling with alcoholism include:

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): AA is a 12-step program that provides support and guidance for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. The program is based on the belief in a higher power and encourages members to work through the 12 steps to achieve sobriety.

SMART Recovery: SMART (Self Management and Recovery Training) Recovery is a science-based recovery program. It encourages members to take control of their lives by developing self-reliance, self-awareness, and self-confidence.

LifeRing Secular Recovery: LifeRing Secular Recovery is a non-religious recovery program that focuses on mutual support and encouragement. It is based on the belief that addiction is a chronic disorder and that sobriety is achievable through self-help and mutual support.

In Conclusion

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that can have a significant impact on an individual’s physical and mental health. Fortunately, there are numerous professional treatments available to help individuals manage their symptoms and achieve long-term sobriety.

Whether through rehabilitation, medication, or aftercare programs, those struggling with alcoholism can find relief and support in their journey towards recovery. In conclusion, alcoholism is a chronic disease that requires ongoing attention and support.

Fortunately, there are numerous professional treatments available, including inpatient and outpatient rehab programs, medication-assisted treatment, PHPs, and aftercare programs and support groups. These treatments can provide relief and support to those struggling with alcoholism, allowing them to achieve long-term sobriety and improve their physical and mental health.

Here are some common FAQs to address common questions and concerns:

1) What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that affects millions of people around the world.

It can range in severity from mild to severe and can cause a wide range of symptoms that impact a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. 2) What are the signs of alcoholism?

The signs of alcoholism can include drinking alone or in secret, increased tolerance to alcohol, withdrawal symptoms, drinking despite negative consequences, and preoccupation with alcohol. 3) What are professional treatment options for alcoholism?

Professional treatment options for alcoholism include inpatient and outpatient rehab programs, medication-assisted treatment, PHPs, and aftercare programs and support groups. 4) Can medications help with alcoholism?

Yes, there are several medications available to help those struggling with alcoholism manage their symptoms, including naltrexone, disulfiram, and acamprosate. 5) What are aftercare programs and support groups?

Aftercare programs and support groups provide individuals with a network of support and accountability after they have completed inpatient or outpatient treatment. These programs are designed to help individuals abstain from alcohol long-term and prevent relapse.

Popular Posts