Alcohol addiction is a very intense and all-consuming problem that requires a multi-pronged plan of attack in order to know how to deal with it. A judgmental outsider may think it's easy to simply decide to stop drinking, but the truth is that alcoholism is an all-consuming disease and habit that dramatically affects all areas of your life.
A true lasting path to sobriety needs to look at all the different aspects of health and well being, physical, emotional, mental, social and others, and positively transform all of them in recovery. Each person is different, and you may find particular programs or ideas that do not work as well for you as for someone else.
That is why it's good to be aware of the variety of possibilities for treatment against alcohol addiction, and think carefully about what seems right for you.
The three stages of treatment for alcoholism
Regardless of the treatment plan you choose, all of them operate on a common understanding of the process of working towards the goal of a life of sobriety. First, is detoxification, in which the alcoholic accepts that a problem exists, and makes the crucial but hard decision to stop drinking.
If he or she has been drinking heavily over a long period of time, this can be very hard, and possibly result in temporary health-risks, as the alcohol leaves the body. Next is rehabilitation, or developing the skills needed to live a sober life.
Last, and never truly ending, is maintenance, as the recovering alcoholic holds on to sobriety, one day at a time making the decision to avoid alcohol, knowing what a painful risk it can be.
Alcoholics Anonymous, and other mutual help groups
One of the oldest, and best-known recovery programs is Alcoholics Anonymous, which has affiliated communities all over the world, groups of people who meet to discuss their struggles and successes with living a sober life.
Officially, AA members work through a program of 12 steps, in which an addict admits the extent of how unmanageable the addicted life has become, places everything in the hands of a guiding "Higher Power," uses this empowerment to work through hurts, fears, and conflicts, and makes amends. Countless people in recovery find AA immensely helpful, but there are also alternative programs that also make use of mutual help groups.
Fellow addicts, by gathering together and speaking honestly about their lives, are able to offer encouragement and advice, helping the alcoholic feel less alone and helpless, and learn from others facing similar conditions.
The Minnesota Model, and therapist-led groups
The Minnesota Model is an adaptation of the AA program, first devised by the Hazelden Rehab Center. It also takes advantage of the immense growth and support an addict can receive through meeting in groups, but with one important difference.
Mutual help groups are characterized by a sense of equality between all its members, who are all addicts trying to help and support each other on a journey. Instead, the Hazelden groups are facilitated by a trained therapist, who offers a neutral and psychologically aware perspective on the group's proceedings. The leader's expertise offers additional wisdom, and can guide meetings to be more productive or encouraging ideas that actually work.
There are a variety of medications that can be used to lessen a craving for alcohol. Some frequently medications include Disulfiram, that causes even a little bit of alcohol to induce vomiting and sickness, Naltrexone, that causes drinking to no longer be pleasurable, and anti-seizure medicines that can reduce anxiety and cravings.
There are a other possibilities getting tested and discovered all the time, so feel free to talk to your health care providers and work with them to help support your goal of sobriety.
This is a psychological school of thought built around finding new ways of perceiving the world, thinking about the causes to your cravings and addictions, and finding new ways to adjust your perception and behavior. Addiction has laid down self-destructive pathways controlling your behavior, and by working with a therapist, you can discover new ways to be present in the world.
There are often deeper issues and anxieties, or painful past experiences behind, or repressed by, your drinking habits. Counseling and psychotherapy can help you work at these deeper issues and sort through traumas, in a way that can help repair the pain you have been attempting to self-medicate.
Community Reinforcement and Family Training
Beginning with the awareness that you are not the only person affected by your alcoholic lifestyle, CRAFT seeks to work with those around you, enlisting their help in achieving a goal of sobriety. They will receive training along with you, learning new ways of confronting your behavior, encouraging you, and behaving in ways that can best support your desire for sobriety.
Ultimately, alcoholism is a problem that needs to be tackled holistically. You should make use of a variety of these techniques, deciding what works for you, and what can best support you in helping you move towards a better life.
Although it will sometimes feel very hard, recovery is possible.