Many individuals struggling with alcohol addiction decide to do an outpatient program (instead of a live-in inpatient treatment) to aid in their recovery. Although length and intensity can vary depending upon each individuals needs, many points of treatment remain the same.

Most outpatient treatment programs geared specifically for alcohol addiction include:

  • An expectation of abstinence from alcohol
  • An initial assessment to determine the needs of the client
  • Seminars and activities for alcohol treatment that the client is expected to attend in order to educate themselves about the science of addiction.
  • Goal setting and formation of an outpatient alcohol treatment plan while discussing one’s emotions and underlying conditions (such as depression or anxiety)
  • Rules about individual’s behavior while they attend outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse.  Breaking rules often means individuals are ejected from the outpatient program
  • A certain number of therapy session each week will be agreed upon
  • Clients are generally asked to divulge personal information in individual or group settings in regards to alcohol and themselves with other clients

Connections: Alcohol and Drug Dependence

As we’ve reported, people who either suffer from substance abuse issues or may be prone to them may find a connection between alcohol and drug dependence.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, “Alcohol and drug dependence often go hand in hand; research shows that people who are dependent on alcohol are much more likely than the general population to use drugs, and people with drug dependence are much more likely than the general population to drink alcohol.”

Indeed, the NIH statistics are eye-opening:

  • 15.3 million adults meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder*
  • Of those, 2.3 million adults meet the criteria for a drug use disorder*

Outpatient Alcohol Addiction Treatment: Pros & Cons

There are pros and cons when deciding between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for alcohol addiction. And just as with most outpatient programs, outpatient alcohol treatment requires work to bring forth progress. However, if clients are ready and willing to work hard, the self examination and results of outpatient treatment for alcohol can be very rewarding and extremely life changing.

An intensive outpatient rehab program exists for one purpose:To help you get your life together without leaving it. A proper approach teaches individuals how to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety through essential coping skills, while still giving enough time to take care of responsibilities at home.

Participants learn these essential coping skills from a team of addiction treatment experts.

According to the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation: “Addiction to alcohol or other drugs is considered a spectrum disorder, meaning the condition can be classified as mild, moderate or severe. Outpatient rehab programs work best for those with mild or moderate substance abuse symptoms. An inpatient program is a better fit for individuals on the more severe end of the spectrum as well as those with co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety or trauma.”

“Different levels of outpatient rehab are available so that you can transition progressively from more frequent and intensive therapy to less intensive therapy as you show an ability to manage your own recovery with less clinical support.”

One challenge to being in the general population, of course, can be understanding some of signals around drinking too much.

We’ve noted an immediate effect: alcohol acts as a depressant that can lower mood and trigger depressive feelings. “The inability of the body to fully process this much alcohol in the blood leads to far more than just intoxication. Binge drinking causes dizziness, loss of motor coordination, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and loss of consciousness,” Alcohol.org, an American Addiction Center Resource site explains.

Alcohol’s effects over the long run on the nervous system can cause anxiety, agitation and further depression and extreme discomfort, often known as the “hangover” feeling. Sometimes, the effects become so uncomfortable, people turn to drinking again to temporarily alleviate the unpleasant symptoms. Ultimately, it can become a vicious cycle that can lead to serious addiction.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Medical News Today notes that “according to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), 11 criteria help a professional decide if someone has an AUD [Alcohol Use Disorder]. If the person meets two of these criteria during a 12-month period, a doctor will consider they have the condition.”

Now a new study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism identifies 5 types of alcohol use disorder that vary with age. The study is titled “Dynamic Features of Problematic Drinking: Alcohol Use Disorder Latent Classes Across Ages 18–64.”

The authors state: “Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are linked with numerous severe detrimental outcomes. Evidence suggests that there is a typology of individuals with an AUD based on the symptoms they report. Scant research has identified how these groups may vary in prevalence by age, which could highlight aspects of problematic drinking behavior that are particularly salient at different ages. Our study aimed to (a) identify latent classes of drinkers with AUD that differ based on symptoms of AUD and (b) examine prevalences of latent classes by age.’

As Medical News Today notes, the study adds “even more nuance to the issue of problematic drinking.” The profiles, as the post outlines, can be useful for individuals who are considering treatment to understand. They include:

  • “‘Alcohol-induced injury’ characterized 25 percent of the participants. People with this profile engaged in risky behavior and got into dangerous situations that might have caused injury.”
  • “Highly problematic, low perceived life interference’ characterized 21 percent of the participants. This group said that their alcohol consumption did not have any adverse effect on their lives and did not affect their family, work, or social obligations, despite also reporting that they experienced many AUD symptoms.”
  • “The ‘Adverse effects only’ profile included 34 percent of the participants, who reported hangovers or alcohol withdrawal symptoms.”
  • “‘Difficulty cutting back’ was a profile prevalent among 13 percent of the participants. People in this category struggled or were unable to cut back on their drinking.”
  • “Highly problematic’ was the final category, which made up 7 percent of the total number of participants who had every symptom of AUD.”

Outpatient Rehab: What to Learn

As we highlight, among the topics individuals in intensive outpatient rehab will learn include:

  • Drug and Alcohol Relapse Prevention
  • Life Skills
  • How to Recognize, Confront and Handle Triggers
  • Health and Nutritional Study
  • Family and Relationship Education
  • Continuing Care
  • Anger Management/Domestic Violence
  • Relaxation and Meditation Skills
  • Phases of Recovery

See a fuller list here.

The question of how to stop drinking alcohol is one that many people consider.

We all know: Drinking alcohol is a regular part of many social gatherings. It’s hard to avoid — parties, dinners, even just hanging out with friends. For those who want to know how to stop drinking, what can they do?

The reasons to stop drinking are abundant. The U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse states:

  • “According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 86.4 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 70.1 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.0 percent reported that they drank in the past month.”
  • “In 2015, 26.9 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month; 7.0 percent reported that they engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.”

How to Stop Drinking: Alcohol Use Disorder

Even more extraordinary are the NIH number on Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD):

  • 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older3 (6.2 percent of this age group4) had AUD. This includes 9.8 million men3 (8.4 percent of men in this age group) and 5.3 million women3 (4.2 percent of women in this age group)
  • About 6.7 percent of adults who had AUD in the past year received treatment. This includes 7.4 percent of males and 5.4 percent of females with AUD in this age group
  • An estimated 88,0008 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women8) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States

MedPage Today reports that “Binge drinking and heavy alcohol use are linked with car crashes, burns, falls, alcohol poisoning, violence, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, chronic diseases, cancers, memory and learning problems, and alcohol dependence.”

One major challenge for individuals who struggle to understand how to stop drinking: A lack of understanding from others. People who don’t face this challenge may think: If you want to stop drinking, just stop. We know: It’s not that simple.

WebMD describes; “Alcohol use disorder is what doctors call it when you can’t control how much you drink and have trouble with your emotions when you’re not drinking. Some people may think the only way to deal with it is with willpower, as if it’s a problem they have to work through all on their own.”

“But alcohol use disorder is actually considered a brain disease. Alcohol causes changes in your brain that make it hard to quit. Trying to tough it out on your own can be like trying to cure appendicitis with cheerful thoughts. It’s not enough.”

For more information, please see the FAQs on How to Stop Drinking. Among the questions covered:

  • How does alcohol work?
  • What effect does drinking alcohol have?
  • How can you tell if someone has a problem and needs to stop drinking alcohol?
  • If an alcoholic is unwilling to get help, what can you do about it?
  • Is alcoholism inherited?
  • Can someone can’t quit drinking alcohol, can they be treated?
  • Does alcoholism treatment work?
  • Are specific groups of people more likely to have problems?

While we often hear the term “alcohol abuse,” sometimes people who enter alcohol rehab programs think they’re the only ones with the problem.

On the other hand, others may feel that alcohol is a “safe” drug – able to be controlled with little serious risks.

Both concepts are wildly wrong, and a new World Health Organization report highlights the numbers:

“More than 3 million people died as a result of harmful use of alcohol in 2016, according a report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) today. This represents 1 in 20 deaths. More than three quarters of these deaths were among men. Overall, the harmful use of alcohol causes more than 5% of the global disease burden.”

“WHO’s Global status report on alcohol and health 2018 presents a comprehensive picture of alcohol consumption and the disease burden attributable to alcohol worldwide. It also describes what countries are doing to reduce this burden.”

Said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO: “Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke. It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies.”

Indeed, of the data show that alcohol abuse can result in a variety of negative outcomes.

The report states: “Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28% were due to injuries, such as those from traffic crashes, self-harm and interpersonal violence; 21% due to digestive disorders; 19% due to cardiovascular diseases, and the remainder due to infectious diseases, cancers, mental disorders and other health conditions.”

Helping Others in Recovery While Still Taking Care of Yourself

It’s easy to focus all of our time and attention on helping our loved ones through drug addiction recovery.  In fact, sometimes we forget about taking care of ourselves because we spend so much time and energy supporting our their process.  But taking care of yourself while helping others through recovery is very important.  Too often, those taking care of an individual in recovery allow themselves to fall to the bottom of their list of priorities.

Sometimes, people think they will take care of things regarding themselves once their loved one is done with recovery.  Supporting loved ones in recovery takes a lot of time and effort and emotional energy.  But, thinking that you’ll handle things in your own life once your loved one recovers often causes individuals to be reactive, frustrated, and/or unnecessarily anxious.  If you prioritize your time to include some self care while helping your loved one through recovery, it is likely you will feel less stress, be more positive and encouraging, and be more calm and caring.

A great example of this is the safety announcement on airplanes.  The flight attendant ask us to put our oxygen mask on first and then to place the mask on those who cannot do so for themselves.  This example illustrates just how important it is for us to take care of ourselves when trying to help another individual.  Doing things to uplift and enhance your life can help you cope and deal with the addiction of your loved one.  Often, individuals feel selfish doing things they did before they were involved in helping someone through recovery like attending movies or going shopping.  They seem to think they don’t deserve to have fun since their loved one may be suffering.  Further, parents of children in recovery may feel guilt— feeling they should have done more to prevent the addiction— and cannot allow themselves to live a normal fulfilled life while their child recovers.  These feelings of not allowing oneself to continue normally will only impede your loved one.  Continuing to foster other friendships is also key— not allowing yourself to become completely consumed with your loved ones’s recovery.  Finding joy and self fulfillment can hep you to be more stable as you aid your loved one in navigating through recovery.

Knowing that you are happy and healthy can help your loved one want the same thing for themselves. The path of recovery may be longer than you planned on and taking care of yourself along the way while helping your loved one sets an important example and is essential to your well being too.

Drunk Driving

According to the US Department of Transportation, every two hours, 3 people are killed in highway crashes due to drunk driving. The consequences of drunk driving include: arrests, property damage, injuries, and thousands of deaths each year. A recent report published by the Bureau of Transportation indicates that, “an estimated 4 million U.S. adults reported driving under the influence of alcohol at least once in 2010, yielding an estimated 112 million alcohol-impaired driving episodes.”

The study also found some interesting facts relating to the statistics of drunk driving. They found that the rate of drunk driving is quite high and were surprised that there were not more deaths due to drunk driving because of this high rate. They indicate that, “alcohol-related highway crashes accounted for 13,365 deaths in 2010. In addition, alcohol-related highway crashes annually cost Americans an estimated $37 billion…Among major crimes, driving under the influence has one of the highest arrest rates with more than 1.4 million DUI arrests in 2010. In 2010, alcohol was involved in 2,020 (or 47.2 percent) of pedestrian fatalities, 11,087 (or 39.9 percent) of vehicle occupant fatalities, 209 (or 33.8 percent) of pedal cyclist fatalities. Pedestrians are more vulnerable than highway vehicle occupants are. In addition, drivers involved in traffic crashes that resulted in pedestrian fatalities had less than two-thirds the rate of alcohol involvement as did the pedestrians killed.”

Drunk driving has been shown to be more prevalent among men, with men being involved in close to 81% of the fatal incidents involving drunk driving. Also, recreational vehicles, especially boats, have been examined in their relation to drunk driving and it was found in the recent study that alcohol was involved in 22 percent of fatalities involving boats. In any situation, driving drunk can impair a driver’s judgment, balance, vision, and reaction time.

Within the workplace, pilots and commercial truck drivers are often tested, as well as many others, to determine their blood-alcohol level. While most reports are positive in this area, indicating a lessening of drunk driving, studies have still brought to light that problems do exist and continued testing is absolutely necessary.


U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Drunk Driving by the Numbers- United States, 2010; available at https://www.rita.dot.gov.

The Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Most of us tend to think of alcohol use affecting mainly the liver and the brain. However, recent research points to evidence that alcohol impacts and effects almost every organ and system in the body. Further, the effects can be temporary or permanent depending on the amount consumed and the frequency of consumption.

According to drugrehab.org, “Alcohol is ingested orally and travels through the esophagus to the stomach. Alcohol requires no digestion before it enters the bloodstream. If the stomach is empty, twenty percent of the alcohol is absorbed through the stomach walls into the bloodstream and begins to affect the brain within a minute. For this reason, many alcoholics prefer to drink on an empty stomach. Although the esophagus is only the tube through which an alcoholic drink passes on its way to the stomach, half of oral, esophageal cancers and laryngeal cancers are related to regular drinking. The remaining alcohol makes its way to the small intestine where it is also readily absorbed”.

Those who drink on a regular basis are doing even more damage to their bodies. Gastritis, a condition that irritates the stomach lining tissues, can occur as well as reflux, ulcers, and erosion of the stomach wall. Malnutrition can present due to damage to the small intestine absorption mechanisms from regular alcohol intake. If individuals drink regularly over long periods of time, other conditions such as hepatitis, inflammation of the liver, and/or development of a fatty liver can occur. Ultimately, cirrhosis, defined as irreversible damage to the liver manifested in permanent scaring and decreased function, occurs from long-term regular drinking. Blood cells are also damaged making alcoholics more infection prone due to white blood cell abnormalities.

Mental function is also impaired with alcohol intake. First, drinkers may feel euphoric and calm. Then, judgement may become impaired which often leads to drinking more than intended. Memories can be lost, vision blurred, and coordination impaired with more alcohol. Last, even more alcohol intake can lead to confusion, stupor, coma, and even death from intoxication.

Although some damage from alcohol intake may never be repaired, abstinence can definitely heal many affected parts of the body. Generally, when alcoholism is present, medically supervised rehab is recommend. Getting enough vitamins and rest is necessary to repair the damage that has occurred. Sobriety can be achieved through this type of supervision, along with counseling and other support systems. Mental functioning can also be improved and regained with sobriety assuming that permanent brain damage hasn’t occurred. Outpatient therapy can help with lasting mental or cognitive impairment and is generally necessary to combat the effects of alcohol, on the body.

When individuals reach the point where they want to recover from drug abuse, many feel they simply do not have the funds to do so.  Or, they feel like they can beat it on their own and save money.  Or, they think that rehab is too costly and they can’t or won’t afford it.  A very interesting fact, however, is that when the cost of continuing drug abuse is examined, it is often found that rehab would actually be less expensive – especially in the long run.

Further, financing a drug addiction is a large financial burden that carries an even larger risk with it: the lengths people will go to to obtain drugs to feed their addiction.  Theft, blackmail, and harming others can be very prevalent among addicts.  Many people have questions about the cost of drugs in comparison to the cost of drug treatment. Often, when choosing between a continuing drug habit and financing rehab, people don’t consider the sheer cost of feeding their drug dependences. Many individuals will end up spending thousands—or more—on drugs and alcohol throughout their lifetimes

Again, it is interesting that research shows that some people put off getting treatment because they fear they cannot afford rehab. Interestingly, it turns out that rehab is much cheaper than drug addiction in the end.

Most importantly, rehab is an investment.  Generally drug rehab will bring better health, more meaningful relationships, increased self-esteem, and much more disposable income (instead of spending any disposable income on a drug addiction). And, individuals will most certainly have a brighter future when investing in rehab over addiction.

Individuals with alcohol or drug addictions should seek treatment – whether inpatient or outpatient. All kinds of treatments are available at all various costs. Putting one’s health first will prove to be a better financial decision with a more positive outcome.  Research shows that most addicts are unable to achieve successful recovery on their own or with family members alone, so finding help is vital. Deciding between costs, inpatient and outpatient rehab, and finding the right treatment center – regardless of expense –are all important decisions to be made for a successful recovery outcome.

ptsd-illnessIllness or Health Crises Can Trigger PTSD

Many people associate post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with veterans or victims of a serious crime or assault that results in emotional trauma. However, few realize just how much serious health diagnoses or illnesses can produce trauma and disturbing memories. This trauma can lead to disturbing dreams, trouble sleeping and concentrating, lack of interest in favorite activities, and feelings of hopelessness. Although different types of therapy, such as talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy and medications can relieve these symptoms, being aware that PTSD can stem from illnesses or serious health crises/diagnoses can happen is key.

For instance, a visit to or stay in an intensive care unit (ICU) can produce PTSD symptoms. A recent study published in the Journal of Psychological Medicine showed that 1 out of 3 patients experienced some form of PTSD when they had visited the ICU. Dr. Dale Needham, MD, PHD, senior study author and critical care specialist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine indicated that, “We usually think of PTSD as something you develop if you go to war, are sexually assaulted, or suffer a similar emotional trauma. Instead, it may be as common, or more common, in ICU patients as in soldiers, but it’s something many doctors — including psychiatrists — don’t fully appreciate.”

Another health crisis that can trigger PTSD is a stroke. Research shows that individuals who have experienced a mini-stroke (transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) often showed PTSD symptoms even though their stroke wasn’t long lasting or didn’t cause any permanent damage. These same patients experienced more depression and anxiety along with the PTSD symptoms.

Contracting Crohn’s disease may cause PTSD also. And, having both illnesses can make the digestive problems and symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease worse, according to research.

Not surprisingly, cancer is also an illness that can cause PTSD –whether from fighting the disease or being diagnosed with it. Recent research shows that many survivors of cancer fight PTSD several years after their initial cancer diagnoses.

All in all, new research is generating new information about many different phenomena that can cause PTSD, and health crises and/or illness are definitely on that list. Being aware of how these traumatic events can impact individuals can help in facilitating the therapy and processes needed to cope with and treat PTSD.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23438256

molinahealthcareWe are please to announce that we are now an In-Network provider for Molina Insurance. If you or someone you know needs help, please contact us at 888-576-HEAL.

12stepsalternatives12-Step Alternatives: CBT and REBT

The 12-step approach was started early in the 20th century before the medical community had any real understanding of what caused addiction, or how to treat it. The 12-step approach is a peer-based community support group…basically one addict or alcoholic helping another. It is a culture of recovery that is based in the personal opinions of those who attend meetings and does not take into account the science of addiction, the role of the mid-brain, or the overwhelming presence of co-occurring mental health issues for those who struggle with this vicious disease. Licensed professionals do not moderate the meetings themselves.

Although the 12-step approach certainly helped many people to achieve and sustain sobriety over the years, other alternative programs that can be equally or even more effective have been created since which contain the same fellowship and support. These alternatives to 12-step based rehab at often is made up of individuals seeking a holistic, therapeutic path to recovery.

Many facilities take a different approach when treating Dual Diagnosis substance abuse that don’t involve 12-step rehab. These include: cognitive behavioral therapy, (CBT), rational emotive behavioral therapy (REBT) which is a form of CBT. CBT and REBT are evidenced-based approaches (clinically proven and supported by SAMSHA) for dealing with affective and addictive disorders. Albert Ellis, who was awarded the distinction of being “the most influential psychologist” of the 20th Century by the American Psychological Association, first developed REBT.

CBT and more specifically, REBT, assume that people act the way they do because of their perceptions of reality, not because of reality itself. In other words, behaviors, emotions and thoughts are driven by beliefs that people hold about how things “should” be rather than how things actually are. REBT therapy is an alternative therapy to 12-step and is designed to help individuals discover underlying and often unconscious, inflexible and self-destructive beliefs about themselves, others and the world. Once these beliefs are identified, challenged and reframed, individuals are able to increasingly accept themselves and others without emotional distress. This resulting reduction in emotional distress allows them to reduce their overall stress and anxiety levels, to improve their mood and to gain control over self-destructive behaviors such as addiction. This differs from the 12-step approach in that a licensed and trained individual administers the therapy, and the therapy is specific and targets particular issues.

Many good things have come out of the 12-step addiction recovery programs. However, alternatives to 12-step based rehabs are also very successful and life changing – often more so.

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