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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 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” (http://www.drugrehab.org/alcohol-rehab/alcohol-effects/).

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.

Trump Vows to Crack Down on Recreational Marijuana

Sean Spicer, White House press secretary under new President Trump, said this week, regarding federal drug laws, “I do believe you will see greater enforcement of (illegal marijuana).” This is an interesting statement due to the fact that President Obama’s administration indicated that they would not interfere in states where nonmedical use of marijuana is allowed. In other words, the new Trump administration says they will enforce federal marijuana laws when they come into conflict with states where the recreational use of marijuana is allowed.

Although the Obama administration felt that they had bigger issues than cracking down on marijuana use in states that have legalized its use, recent studies indicate that marijuana use is linked to the widespread use of painkillers. This new evidence points to the fact that allowing use of recreational marijuana can be, and most likely is being, interpreted as pardoning the facts of the dangers of drug use.

Spicer indicated, “When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people. There is still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and drugs of that nature.”

However, Spicer was quick to indicate that although the President does not approve of recreational marijuana use, he understands that medical marijuana can help ease suffering for patients with terminal illnesses. President Trump was quoted during his campaign as saying, “I know people that have serious problems — it really does help them.”

This video helps show how important human connection and how that relates to addiction. We highly recommend watching this.

Rehab & Recovery Denial: I Can Do It On My Own

Convincing someone with an addiction to drugs or alcohol to go to rehab or to detox is often a very difficult and touchy situation. Even harder sometimes, is convincing someone to stick with rehab, detox, or recovery in a structured setting. Although there are lots of reasons why an individual will refuse to go to detox or rehab, or attempt to leave before they are ready, all of the reason are just a means to an end – which includes not recovering from addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Commonly, many addicts think that they can accomplish detox or sobriety on their own—without the help of professionals or rehab. Most addicts believe that they’re smarter, stronger and different from other addicts. Because of this false belief, many addictions escalate and get worse, and addicts lose even more control over themselves and their lives.

In addiction, in recovery, rehab or detox, certain ideas or themes or topics often get repeated in the education and rehab process. Often, when addicts go through multiple relapses, rehab attempts, and/or detoxes, they feel like they are just hearing the same things they heard all of the other times and their desire to overcome their addiction is lessened and seems to diminish. This can lead to feelings of hopelessness and many individuals attempt to quit rehab before they are ready and recovered. When addicts don’t feel they are gaining any new insight, they often want to give up.

On the other hand, addicts can develop quick confidence sometimes when they’ve been clean for just a couple of weeks. They truly believe themselves to be fully recovered and don’t see the point in finishing the recovery process; thinking it is too costly, time consuming, or just inconvenient. These individuals are anxious to get back out into the world because they think they won’t relapse, that they are past that stage, but the sad truth is often that extended treatment produces much more recovered individuals who have fewer relapses and are more prepared to enter the world once again. Staying in a rehab program for as long as it takes is crucial to a more complete recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

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