alcohol-addiction-basics

Alcohol Addiction is Treatable

If you are struggling with alcohol dependence or addiction, you are not alone. In fact, it is estimated that up to 30% of Americans abuse or are addicted to alcohol.* Given the pervasiveness of alcohol use and abuse in our society, it can be difficult to know when drinking has become unmanageable. While many people can engage in social drinking from time to time without developing dependence, many others simply cannot.

The good news is that alcohol addiction is highly treatable, especially for those who receive comprehensive treatment and have access to continued social support.

Alcohol addiction can develop in people of all walks of life. It crosses boundaries of age, gender, education, and socio-economic status. If you are concerned that you (or a loved one) may have developed an alcohol addiction, especially if you are also suffering from a co-occurring disorder such as depression or anxiety, please call us to discuss your concerns and continue reading about alcohol addiction treatment below.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Alta Mira

The first step of alcohol addiction treatment is for you to admit that the problem exists, accept that it is treatable, and agree to seek help.
Treatment has three main stages:

    1. Detoxification (detox): Medically-supervised detox is essential for safely discontinuing alcohol use. Withdrawal from alcohol can result in a life-threatening medical emergency that can include seizures, hallucinations, and delirium tremens (DTs). At Alta Mira, we provide medically-monitored detox 24/7, with a range of medication options to help you stay comfortable as your body transitions through detox. Every detox room is private, housed in our historic hotel overlooking the San Francisco Bay. You can expect to stay in detox approximately 3 to 5 days, although we determine each detox program individually.
    2. Residential Treatment: During this stage of alcohol addiction treatment, you will move from our detox area to your accommodations in the main part of our campus. Depending on the severity of your addiction and any co-occurring disorders, you will likely join either our 30-Day Core Program or our 90-Day Comprehensive Program. In addition to individual and group counseling, you will receive a thorough diagnosis and evaluation, take part in our holistic and experiential therapies, learn recovery skills through our educational programming, work on challenging family dynamics, and develop peer support through AA or other community groups.
    3. Maintenance of sobriety: Our clinical program is designed to help you successfully maintain your sobriety after you leave residential treatment. We do so through giving you ongoing access to our Continuing Care program, as well as helping you establish a peer support network while you are with us. We consider peer support to be an essential component of long-term recovery, especially for addictions (such as alcohol addiction) that tend to have a strong social component. We provide you with daily access to 12-step peer support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), NA, and Al-Anon, as well as other peer support options including Smart Recovery and LifeRing.

Relapse Prevention Medication for Alcohol Addiction

When used properly, relapse prevention medication can make a significant difference in your long-term sobriety. There are several FDA approved relapse prevention medications used for alcohol addiction. Near the end of your residential treatment, we will work with you to determine what medications may help support your recovery plan. We commonly prescribe Disulfram (Antabuse) or Naltrexone. Disulfram blocks alcohol metabolism leading to an increase in blood acetaldehyde levels; the aim is to motivate you not to drink because you will become ill if you do ingest alcohol. Naltrexone is also approved for alcohol relapse prevention. It comes in two forms: Oral Naltrexone which is administered daily; and Extended-Release Injectable Naltrexone (Vivitrol) which in an injection given to the patient once a month. The advantage of Vivitrol is that you do not have to remember to take your medication for it to have a longer-term benefit.

Seeking Help for Alcohol Addiction

If you are concerned about your alcohol use (or the possible alcohol addiction of a loved one), please reach out for help and information. Alcohol addiction causes serious damage to relationships, careers, finances, and your physical well being. Drinking large amounts of alcohol causes liver damage as well as significant brain damage, but beginning treatment now can halt—and even reverse—the damage.

It is perfectly normal to feel a range of difficult emotions about seeking treatment. You may experience fear, guilt, shame, concerns about leaving work for residential treatment, worries about being judged for needing treatment, and a range of other concerns. Please know that we are here to help, without judgment. Contact our team for a consultation.

*According to a 2007 study by the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of the National Institutes of Health.