Alcohol Use Disorder develops when an individual forms an unhealthy pattern of alcohol consumption, which is commonly known as alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is a condition where an individual consumes too much alcohol at a particular occasion and, as a result, tend to do or say things that they would not do otherwise. The critical point to the condition of alcohol abuse is that the abusers are not physically dependent on alcohol and can usually survive for an extended time without alcohol. However, alcohol abuse can turn into Alcohol Use Disorder sooner or later, where you will find it difficult to drag through the day without alcohol. At this stage, your addiction is medically referred to as a chronic, relapsing brain disease and needs medical intervention for recovery. Nevertheless, both the conditions pose health and psychological complications and need help immediately, no matter how mild it is.
The first thing you or someone else with an Alcohol Use Disorder would do to overcome their addiction is to consult a relevant doctor. Simply conveying that you have an alcohol addiction will not suffice to start the treatment. The doctor will diagnose your condition first and then refer you to the relevant professionals to help with your recovery process. The fundamental steps that are followed during a typical diagnosis procedure are:
- The doctor will develop a casual conversation with you to access your current condition. He/she will also inquire about your drinking habit, associated disorders, and your overall health. Certain times, the doctor might also seek your permission to talk to your friends or family about your addiction. This might be necessary to identify the gravity of your addiction, as it is normal for you to underestimate your condition.
- The doctor will perform or ask you to undergo a physical examination. The goal of this examination is to identify the physical signs that might hint at an alcohol problem.
- You will be asked to complete a psychological evaluation that will question you about your symptoms, behaviors, and thoughts.
- The doctor will then use The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth-edition on you. This is most often used to diagnose any mental health complications.
The procedures mentioned above are the typical ones that are used to diagnose any alcohol problems. However, it is entirely reasonable for healthcare facilities to follow different procedures or to follow the above with a few other procedures. After the diagnosis results indicate that you have an Alcohol Use Disorder, the doctor will refer you to one of the treatment programs as follows:
- Detox program – for individuals with a severe type of Alcohol Use Disorders, detox might be the first step towards recovery. Here, you will be put through a program that is medically managed to stop your drinking habit and to give your body enough time to get rid of the alcohol. This usually takes around two to seven days and might require you to take in sedatives to prevent agonizing withdrawal symptoms and cravings for the substance.
- Psychological counseling or therapies – for an individual suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder, stopping the drinking habit is only part of the recovery program. Certain psychological aspects of your life would have also been damaged due to your addiction, and counseling and therapies aim to treat them. These are mostly provided by psychologists, social workers, or counselors and might consist of an individual or group counseling or therapy, family therapy, or couples therapy. Here, the professionals might teach you some crucial tools to help you change the behaviors that make you relapse back into the drinking habit, deal with stress, and set goals towards sobriety and achieve them.
- Since Alcohol Use Disorder is a disease, certain medications are also used as part of a typical AUD treatment process. Although these medications will not, in any essence, cure the addiction, it will make drinking less enjoyable by generating feelings of nausea and headaches, so that you will stop consuming it eventually in the future. A few of the commonly used medications for Alcohol Use Disorders are Disulfiram, Naltrexone, and Acamprosate. Disulfiram will make you sick when you consume alcohol. Naltrexone will prevent the “high” feeling that you get from alcohol, and Acamprosate will help you deal with cravings.
- Continuing support – a good treatment program will not just stop after you complete the necessary program. It will also extend its support after the treatment period to ensure that you stay sober, manage relapses, and cope with the lifestyle changes. This support may include medical and psychological care and can be provided through support groups.
Your doctor should help you in identifying the best treatment option based on your addiction and will refer to the relevant professionals if the treatment is out of their expertise. If you wish to know more about overcoming alcohol abuse or addiction, feel free to talk to us!