What You Need To Know About Alcoholism Treatment
When you or someone you love needs help to stop drinking, you may not know where to start. Talking with friends and family can be embarrassing because addiction is still a well-kept secret.
What’s Your Goal?
Whether you get a personal recommendation or prefer to look privately online, there are some things to consider.
For instance, what’s your ultimate goal?
Are you looking to get sober or need help maintaining sobriety?
Has relapse been an issue?
Do you want to decrease your overall alcohol use, rather than working towards complete sobriety?
If you’re not sure, that’s okay too. Admitting that you have a drinking problem is the start of recovery. That step alone takes tremendous courage. Look for therapists who specialize in treating addiction and ask questions. Most therapists offer a free phone consultation for this purpose.
What Kind of Counseling Is Best for You?
The kind of counseling needed will depend on your goal of treatment. In this article you'll learn about the different types of treatment available and which one best suits your needs.
Harm Reduction: When You’re Not Ready to Quit
If you’re looking to decrease your use and avoid the more serious consequences of drinking, harm reduction may be a good match. This approach focuses on reducing the consequences associated with excessive drinking, while you continue to drink.
This approach works best if you still have some control over your use. If you’re not willing to stop completely, harm reduction may work for you. However, this technique is not a good fit for those who have a more severe, long-term history with addiction.
In harm reduction therapy, you’re taught to avoid potentially dangerous situations while intoxicated. These situations may include driving, making important decisions, providing care to others, even breastfeeding. The primary goals are to increase personal safety and to minimize harmful consequences that impact society.
Because of the controversial nature of this approach, the therapist takes a nonjudgmental stance on the desire to continue drinking and avoids direct confrontation. Treatment often includes stress management techniques and identifying triggers that lead to excessive drinking.
Abstinence/Sobriety: Hitting Bottom and Starting Recovery
A more traditional approach to alcoholism focuses on complete abstinence or sobriety. Often this includes inpatient or outpatient treatment programs that provide added structure. This works well when there is a crisis and you’ve hit bottom.
Attending support groups is an integral part of treatment because they provide daily support needed for adopting a sober lifestyle.
Choice of Support Groups
Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, also known as AA, are widely encouraged. They consider alcoholism a disease and encourage spiritual principles, such as powerlessness and a reliance on a higher power (of your own choosing). The foundation of the program includes working the 12 Steps and helping other alcoholics.
For those who prefer a more scientific focus, SMART Recovery offers group support while promoting self-reliance, rather than turning over their own personal power to a Higher Power.
Celebrate Recovery emphasizes the words of Jesus Christ rather than psychological theory. They encourage forming accountability partners and addictive behaviors are normalized much like personal problems. Click here to read about benefits of 12 step programs.
Choosing Individual Help
When there are issues of depression, mental illness or trauma individual counseling provides a more personalized form of support. These issues can make sobriety more difficult to sustain.
This is especially helpful to those who have tried getting clean on their own without lasting success. Also, if you feel anxious in groups, talking to someone privately may be a better fit.
Some of the most popular therapeutic approaches include:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapies: These focus on changing thought patterns that lead to relapse.
Motivational Enhancement Therapy; This approach utilizes a collaborative effort with the client, encouraging positive change.
Couples or Family Counseling; This type of counseling helps minimize the addict’s denial by encouraging the family members to share the impact of the addict’s use.
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Finding a Therapist
One of the quickest ways to find a therapist is to look online. Most therapists nowadays have their own website, which outline their approach and professional experience. In addition, many therapists have a social media presence.
A word of caution when considering online review sites. Due to professional ethics, therapists cannot ask for reviews from clients. Soliciting reviews would cause issues of confidentiality. And of course, anyone can write a review.
Because of this, the therapist cannot respond to online reviews – even if they have never treated the person reviewing them. However, therapists can provide reviews of their own colleagues. Such reviews may be helpful to you in your own searches.
Regardless of where or how you find your therapist, look for counselors who have experience with your specific issues. If you have been diagnosed with PTSD, bi-polar disorder, or severe anxiety, include that information in your research.
What to Ask a Therapist
When speaking to a therapist, ask how they will work with your particular problem. Find out their style and approach to therapy. If you get a bad feeling or think that the therapist is not a match for you, trust that feeling. You need to feel comfortable entrusting a therapist with your life story.
The more effort you put into finding a therapist, the better your experience is likely to be. A random therapist choice is not likely to have good results.
When to Seek Inpatient Treatment
When individual therapy doesn’t provide enough structure, inpatient treatment offers intensive support in a more controlled environment. With chronic alcohol abuse or in combination with other drugs, medical detox is often necessary because alcohol withdrawal can be fatal.
Treatment centers can provide a hiatus from the daily stressors that trigger using. Also, when there is a history of relapse, inpatient treatment gives the client more time in a safe, non-using environment while learning the tools for a sober lifestyle.
Another option is seeing an addiction specialist who prescribes medication to cope more effectively with withdrawal symptoms. Because this is done on an outpatient basis, it provides a more cost effective alternative for those who cannot afford inpatient treatment.
A Program for You
Though there may be similarities between alcoholics, your life circumstances are unique. You deserve an individualized approach. What works for your brother-in-law may not be the best choice for you. Looking at your drinking can be the first step in transforming your life.
Find others who have had some success with recovery. Taking that first step is the hardest part but by getting the right help you can begin the process of a healthier, happier life.
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