According to the NIAAA, alcoholism is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States across all age ranges and socio-demographics. Unfortunately, over the past ten years, the death toll and bleak statistics associated with this disease have been on the rise—almost uniformly across all ages, sexes, and social classes.
Alcoholism may be the new “in-vogue” disease. We see it glorified everywhere: by our favorite stars in the movies and on television, in magazine ads, and advertisements for drink specials on the marquees of lascivious cocktail lounges. It is no wonder that alcoholism has been steadily increasing over the last ten years.
Alcohol abuse may be our nation’s most under reported health crisis.
The Rising Trend in Heavy Drinking
According to the DSM IV, in a study sample including over 43,000 participants and a survey including over 36,000 participants, various markers for increasing binge drinking or symptoms of alcoholism were reported by almost all socio-demographic subgroups, with the highest increases among women, ethnic minorities, older adults, and those with lower educational backgrounds.
Dangerous Drinking: Rising Costs
According to the CDC, in 2006, excessive alcohol consumption cost the United States $223.5 billion dollars. This equals out to an astounding $1.90 per drink, or an extra $746 dollars in expenses for every single person in America. Binge drinking accounted for almost 75 percent of the total costs.
Statistics from the CDC show on a broad scale what many of us already know in our hearts: alcohol abuse is expensive and affects every single one of us in some way or other. Most money lost from drinking annually resulted from lost hours in workplace productivity at an astounding 72 percent, followed by rising costs in healthcare stemming from issues directly or indirectly related to excessive drinking at 11 percent. Law enforcement and other criminal justice expenses combined with expenses from motor vehicle crashes make up the remainder at 14 percent.
The numbers don’t lie: Americans love our alcohol, even if it costs us drastically. And while there is nothing wrong with moderate consumption by legal adults in responsible settings, problems can quickly develop and escalate in a matter of time. Therefore, it is wise to be able to identify some of the signs of developing alcoholism.
If you are concerned about yourself or someone you love, being able to identify a problem before it worsens in severity can be tantamount in importance to hastening a healthy recovery.
Common Treatments for Alcoholism
Deciding that you or someone you know and care about may be suffering from alcoholism is a harrowing thought, but do not despair. Alcoholism is no longer the terminal diagnosis that it once was. Many treatments have been developed and effectively utilized over the years and with proven, but varying, success rates.
Alcohol Use Disorder is not uniform for every patient; this means there are as many and varied paths to recovery as there are to alcoholism. If you or someone you know is suffering, please do not hesitate to reach out for help. There is a wide range of treatment options available that will fit the needs of all walks of life. Here is an overview of more traditional and widely accepted approaches:
- Assistance with placement in detox. Clients who have developed a physical dependence upon alcohol need placed in a medical detox program, as alcohol withdrawal from one who is severely physically dependent is dangerous and can prove to be fatal. Being medically supervised by a team of understanding, caring staff who have specialized in the problems specific to the needs of the alcoholic makes going to a medical detox facility an extremely smart choice. Finding a high-quality medical detox facility that will accept your insurance is always prudent; one should consider doing so in advance of the date he or she is planning to be admitted, making the transition to recovery more seamless.
- Inpatient Care: Once the client has safely and successfully detoxed from alcohol and is stable enough to begin this next leg of the journey toward freedom from addiction, residential treatment is a well-recognized, prudent and sometimes very necessary next step. It offers two advantages: by removing the addict from the immediate vicinity of the substance and providing a safe place to heal, the addict’s chances of success are greatly increased. An inpatient setting also allows the addict to focus solely on his or her recovery with the stresses of everyday life interfering.
- It is unfortunate that addiction is a lifelong struggle for some, but that is no reason to give up hope. Many patients want to continue their treatment after completing a residential program, and this is where an intensive outpatient therapy shines. The patient is placed with a group of her peers where they can discuss the challenges of what can be a difficult transition and reintegration into society as well as their struggles and joys with newfound sobriety. A good IOP program should be designed to make attendance easy, offering day and evening hours, five to six days a week. This will allow for accommodation into everyone’s busy, hectic schedules. As discretion is sacred to the working professional who is suffering from addiction, a wide range of hours will also allow the patient the advantage of attending while maintaining confidentiality—without the additional worry of having to miss work or an employer discovering the patient’s illness.
Types of Therapies
- Some substance abuse counselors specialize in treating Alcohol Use Disorder, and are well-versed in effective cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—a goal-oriented approach to psychotherapy which actively encourages the participant to take a hands-on approach to solving problems. A counselor who specializes in your type of problem should be sought out. Your counselor should be knowledgeable about your problem, and you should feel comfortable relating your personal struggles related to the illness to your counselor.
- Trauma counseling: Many of us suffering from addiction are self-medicating deep-seated, underlying psychological scars that have never been properly resolved within the client. This can lead the client to wish to mask the pain of the scars he or she is carrying in very unhealthy ways, such as drugs or alcohol. When we can work through the trauma to find some sort of resolution and closure, we can begin to heal from the inside—and remove the self-destructive urge to drink. EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Redirection, a new, cutting-edge therapy is one form of trauma therapy used by many of our specialists.
- Medication-Assisted Therapy: Many addiction clients suffer from depression and other mental health issues. Addiction rarely manifests completely alone. As so, these comorbidities raise relapse rates if they are not treated alongside the addiction. Antidepressants are a common, proven, effective treatment. Many facilities also offer naltrexone therapy, which, according to SAMSHA can significantly reduce cravings for alcohol.
Alcoholism is a very serious illness and it effects many more people in our busy, overworked society than the general population realizes. It can destroy someone’s quality of life before finally taking it. But it is no longer the death-knell in one’s coffin. There is hope! Don’t let alcohol control your life anymore. Contact us today, and let us help you take that ever-important first step toward serenity and recovery right here in Boise, Idaho.