In the United States, approximately 2 million people get help each year for alcoholism. Alcoholism treatment may include:
- Detoxification: This involves abstaining from alcohol in order to get alcohol completely out of a person's system, and it takes anywhere from four to seven days. People who undergo detoxification often take medications to prevent delirium tremens and other symptoms of withdrawal.
- Pharmaceuticals: People can take drugs such as disulfiram or naltrexone to prevent a relapse once they've stopped drinking. Naltrexone reduces the desire to drink by blocking the centers in the brain that feel pleasure when alcohol is consumed. Disulfiram causes a severe physical reaction to alcohol that includes nausea, vomiting and headaches. In 2004, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration also approved the drug acamprosate, which suppresses cravings by targeting the brain chemicals affected by alcohol.
- Counseling: Individual or group counseling sessions can help a recovering alcoholic identify situations in which they may be tempted to use alcohol and find ways of circumventing the urge to drink in those situations. One of the most recognizable alcoholic recovery programs is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). In this 12-step program, recovering alcoholics meet regularly to support one another through the recovery process.
The effectiveness of these programs varies depending upon the severity of the problem, the social and psychological factors involved and the individual's commitment to the process. A 2001 study found that 80 percent of people who had gone through a 12-step program such as AA remained abstinent six months afterward, compared to about 40 percent of people who didn't go through a program. Studies have also found that combining medication with therapy works better than either treatment alone. Medication addresses the chemical imbalances that cause alcohol addiction, while therapy helps people cope with abstinence.
Unfortunately, there is no "cure" for alcoholism. Recovering alcoholics must continually work to prevent a relapse. However, a 2001-2002 survey by the National Institutes of Health found that approximately 35 percent of alcoholic adults were able to fully recover from their addiction.
For more information on alcoholism, including treatment resources, check out the links below.
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More Great Links
- "Alcohol: A Women's Health Issue." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism." http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochurewomen/women.htm
- "Alcohol: What You Don't Know Can Harm You." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/harm-al.htm
- "Alcoholism: Getting the Facts." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/booklet.htm
- "Alcoholic Liver Disease." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa64/aa64.htm
- "Alcohol's Damaging Effects on the Brain." National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa63/aa63.htm
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- "2001-2002 Survey Finds That Many Recover From Alcoholism - Researchers Identify Factors Associated with Abstinent and Non-Abstinent Recovery." National Institutes of Health Press Release, January 18, 2005. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/press/2005/Recovery.htm
- "Alcohol Abuse Increases, Dependence Declines across Decade." National Institutes of Health Press Release, June 10, 2004. http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/press/2004/NESARCNews.htm
- "Once-a-Month Injectable Medication Helps Treat Alcohol Dependance." American Medical Association Press Release. April 6, 2005. http://www.medem.com/medlb/article_detaillb.cfm?article_ID=ZZZ9ZGUH97E&sub_cat=0
- "Alcohol: What to Do if It's a Problem for You." Familydoctor.org http://familydoctor.org/006.xml
- Alcoholism. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=DS00340
- "FDA Approves New Drug for Treatment of Alcoholism." Food & Drug Administration Press Release, July 29, 2004. http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/2004/ANS01302.html
- "Alcohol Dependence or Abuse and Age at First Use." The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, October 22, 2004. http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/2k4/ageDependence/ageDependence.htm
- "Alcoholism and Drug Dependence are America's Number One Health Problem." The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. http://www.ncadd.org/facts/numberoneprob.html
- How Alcohol Works. HowStuffWorks.com. https://science.howstuffworks.com/alcohol.htm
- Grant, Bridget F., et al. "The 12-month prevalence and trends in DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence: United States, 1991-1992 and 2001-2002." Drug and Alcohol Dependence. Volume 74, June 11, 2004, pgs. 223-234.
- Alcohol Dependence. Intelihealth. http://www.intelihealth.com/IH/ihtIH/WSIHW000/29785/35177/266750.html?d=dmtHealthAZ
- Hillhouse, Maureen P. "12-Step Program Participation and Effectiveness: Do Gender and Ethnic Differences Exist?" Journal of Drug Issues, Summer 2001.
- "Children of Alcoholics: Important Facts." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Clearinghouse on Alcohol & Drug Information. http://www.health.org/nongovpubs/coafacts/