Is Alcohol Treatment Really Necessary?
Alcohol treatment is necessary for those who are dependent on and abusing alcohol. Those who become dependent on alcohol are called alcoholics, and they need to be treated formally in a detox or rehab facility. Why is alcohol treatment necessary?
First and foremost, alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous. As stated by the NLM, “alcohol withdrawal refers to symptoms that may occur when a person who has been drinking too much alcohol every day suddenly stops drinking alcohol.” If you are a chronic abuser of alcohol and you decide to quit, you will more than likely experience these symptoms which can range from uncomfortable to dangerous. Some of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Mood swings
But a very specific type of alcohol withdrawal can occur in those with severe alcoholism. It is called delirium tremens and it includes these symptoms:
- “Severe confusion”
Those who experience delirium tremens can be in severe danger. This is why alcohol treatment is necessary, as those who attempt to go through withdrawal alone could experience these symptoms without proper medical attention.
Those in alcohol treatment will be given medications that reduce their withdrawal symptoms and their cravings. The NIAAA states, “Primary care provides are accustomed to prescribing medications for a number of illnesses, but generally are unfamiliar with medicines to treat alcohol problems.” This is why alcohol treatment is so important. In an alcohol treatment facility, you will receive certain medications like:
- Topiramate (which is “approved to treat epilepsy and migraines”)
This can help lessen your withdrawal symptoms and help you through the worst of them. Medications are also useful for fighting cravings, as alcoholics experience them similarly to the way other substance abusers crave drugs.
Behavioral Therapy and Counseling
Medication, while helpful, is not the only treatment available, nor is it usually the most effective. In many cases, medication only helps to make behavioral treatments more effective toward treating alcoholism.
According to the NIAAA, “MHGs [or mutual-help groups] remain the most commonly sought source of help for [alcohol use disorders] in the United States.” Though they are very helpful, formal treatment is important for establishing a base for recovery, and also for helping patients in the initial stages like withdrawal. Patients do tend to seek mutual-help groups after addiction treatment (and they are sometimes provided as a part of outpatient treatment), but group therapy can be incredibly effective and similar to MHGs while giving a patient access to a counselor or therapist.
Another popular type of behavioral treatment is cognitive-behavioral therapy. The NIDA states that it was “developed as a method to prevent relapse when treating problem drinking” and it is still used today. CBT helps patients:
- Change the way they think about drinking
- Identify their triggers and cravings
- Anticipate problems they may have after treatment
Alcohol treatment is necessary for someone with an alcohol use disorder. The help of medical professionals, medications, and therapy will lay a good foundation for the person’s recovery, allowing them to feel protected and supported instead of going it alone. And, because alcohol withdrawal can be very dangerous, alcohol treatment could save your life.