What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol rehab is a term that refers to programs that help a person abstain and oftentimes, detox from alcohol. Candidates for alcohol rehab have what is referred to as alcohol use disorder or AUD, which means that the person cannot stop drinking and often drinks much more than they should. Here, we discuss what alcohol rehab is, how it works, and how it serves the person with AUD.
Alcohol Use Disorder is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as “problem drinking that becomes severe” – is common in the United States, with over 15 million adults exhibiting signs of AUD in 2015.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol Use Disorder presents a wide range of symptoms that can vary in severity and kind among different people. One’s history with alcohol, the reasons they drink, and their environment can all lead to different experiences of AUD. In general, Alcohol Use Disorder may be present when:
- one’s drinking begins to interfere with their life (mild to severe)
- alcohol negatively impacts a person’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or social health
- one has a difficult time controlling the amount of alcohol consumed
- one has tried and failed to cut back on their alcohol consumption
- one has developed a tolerance to alcohol
- alcohol has impacted one’s job performance
- alcohol has impacted one’s social and personal relationships
- one has chosen to drink instead of participating in hobbies/interests that they previously enjoyed
Not all of these symptoms of AUD are obvious to outside observers. Some may not even be apparent to the drinker themselves. It is crucial for anyone consuming alcohol regularly to be completely honest with themselves about their drinking. Recognizing these symptoms early on can make recovery from alcoholism much easier than if one lets them linger and worsen. A comprehensive list of criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder can be read in the DSM-V.
While self-diagnosis is not always accurate, individuals should consult a medical professional to consider alcohol rehabilitation if AUD symptoms match their experience with alcohol to a significant degree.
The Relationship Between AUD and Binge Drinking
Many adults do not technically have Alcohol Use Disorder, but still engage in risky alcohol consumption, such as binge drinking. According to recent research, America’s already high rates of AUD are climbing, especially among women and minorities. One might wonder how binge drinking relates to alcohol use disorder. Binge drinking is an action that can signal an alcohol use disorder, and is at the minimum, evidence of a problematic and unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Binge drinking shows the following characteristics:
- you consume more than four drinks in a sitting
- you sometimes forget what happened when you drank
- you’ve considered cutting back on alcohol consumption
- you’ve felt guilty when you’ve drank too much
- you’re not sure how much you drank
- you have been told that you drink too much
With as many as 1 in 8 Americans suffering from AUD, one would hope that the majority of them were undergoing alcohol abuse treatment. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Whether due to difficulty of accessing alcohol rehab or a lack of knowledge, less than 7 percent of AUD sufferers receive necessary medical treatment. Many people misunderstand Alcohol Use Disorder and fail to recognize when their symptoms constitute a problem. They may also be unaware of the range of care options available to them. Such knowledge is key to taking the necessary steps to pursue treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder.
Root Causes of Alcoholism
Alcoholism has many causes, which can be genetic, social, psychological, or environmental in nature. Most of the time, it is a confluence of these factors rather than one isolated issue.
Genetics and Alcoholism
Alcoholism runs in families, with genetics being responsible for roughly 45 to 60 percent of an individual’s risk for developing AUD. However, one who is genetically predisposed to alcohol issues may never develop a problem if, for example, they live in the optimum environment and run in social circles that don’t revolve around drinking.
Environment and Alcoholism
Environmental and social factors can include situations where alcohol use is easily accessible and encouraged, such as parties where binge drinking is commonplace. Peer pressure to abuse alcohol can be very compelling, especially among young adults of college age. This can take the form of offers to drink, behavioral modeling, or the idea that one is “supposed” to drink in order to have fun.
Similarly, a person with no genetic predisposition to develop an alcohol problem may drink on a regular basis as a coping mechanism to anesthetize themselves against painful mental and emotional issues. Researchers note that “while genetic differences affect risk, there is no ‘gene for alcoholism,’ and both environmental and social factors weigh heavily on the outcome”.
Psychological factors can play a significant role in the development or worsening of an Alcohol Use Disorder, with mental disorders like depression and anxiety increasing one’s risk for alcoholism and similar substance abuse issues. This speaks to the vital need for treatment for co-occurring disorders while undertaking alcohol rehab.
Consequences of Long-Term Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol Use Disorder can present profound consequences, not only to one’s health, but in every aspect of life. Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to:
- organ damage
- memory loss
- speech issues
- even coma or death from alcohol poisoning
In addition to countless short and long-term physical consequences, alcohol abuse also frequently damages vital social relationships with friends, family, and loved ones, jeopardizes one’s livelihood, exacerbates mental health issues, and destroys one’s sense of control over their life.
Knowing When to Explore Alcohol Rehab
People with severe AUD often find that alcohol no longer feels like just one problem that can be addressed. Instead, it becomes an insurmountable part of every physical, mental, emotional, and social facet of one’s life. In this situation, alcohol dictates every choice, thought, and action, to the exclusion and sacrifice of everything else. In the throes of such alcohol addiction, it can be difficult to know where to turn to get the help so desperately needed. If one’s alcohol use has reached such a point, it is time to consider a professional alcohol rehabilitation program.
What is Alcohol Rehab Like?
Alcohol rehabilitation (alcohol rehab) at a dedicated substance abuse treatment center can often prove to be the only effective method to truly recover from AUD for those with moderate to severe alcohol addiction. Alcohol Use Disorder is not easily overcome alone, given the presence of dangerous triggers, risky environments, and familiar challenges thwarting attempts at recovery. Professional care provided at a nationally accredited alcohol rehab such as Green Mountain Treatment Center is often critical.
Moreover, professional care that focuses solely on alcohol abuse, and not on its causes, is not enough. Alcohol’s grip on one’s life is often indicative of deeper problems that need to be addressed if sobriety and a better quality of life are to be achieved. Integrated care that addresses addictive thoughts, behaviors, and coping mechanisms, as well as the root causes of those thoughts and actions, is indispensable.
Types of Alcohol Rehab
Alcohol rehab varies from facility to facility, can be strictly clinically-focused, 12-step oriented, or take the form of a hybridized clinical/12-Step approach like that offered here at Granite Recovery Centers, which we call our R.E.S.T. Program.
Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offer a full continuum of alcohol rehabilitation programs and substance abuse care across multiple facilities throughout the granite state. These services range from medical detox to inpatient alcohol drug and rehab programs, extended care, sober living facilities, and outpatient care. Below is a summary of our levels of care and how they fit together into a single, comprehensive continuum of care.
Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
Medical Detox from Alcohol
Medical detoxification, which involves the removal of alcohol or drugs from the body as well as the management of withdrawal symptoms, can be the first step in recovery for those with moderate to severe alcohol or substance abuse issues. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
Alcohol withdrawal, which occurs when someone who frequently abuses alcohol discontinues use, can be especially difficult for severe drinkers due to the risk of serious physical symptoms such as:
Most clients detoxing from alcohol experience some degree of discomfort, but not to the same degree or severity as individuals with a history of severe, long-term alcohol abuse. Individuals with extreme cases of alcohol or substance abuse, in which hospital resources may be necessary, may wish to consider full acute detox care.
Our sub-acute medical detox facility at Green Mountain Treatment Center is supervised by medical professionals who are dedicated to keeping the client as comfortable as possible throughout the withdrawal process. Sub-acute detox means that we are equipped to help clients who require 24-hour monitoring and who have serious difficulties controlling their alcohol use. Read more about alcohol detox and withdrawal.
Inpatient Alcohol Rehab Center
Our alcohol use disorder rehabilitation program is offered at both Green Mountain Treatment Center and NFA Behavioral Health, and is structured around our R.E.S.T. program, which is a unique combination of 12-Step curriculum and clinical modalities.
What Happens After Alcohol Rehab (Inpatient)?
Studies have shown that length of stay in treatment is a “robust, positive predictor of treatment outcome”. 30 days may not prove sufficient to break down the negative habits and self-beliefs that led to addiction, nor long enough to develop new skills, strategies, and coping mechanisms that enable sustained sobriety.
This is why we often recommend that residents transition into some form of extended care or sober living for continued treatment. This allows for clients to continue working on themselves, practicing new skills in safe, controlled environments with increasing levels of freedom and challenges that guide them back into daily life at a comfortable pace.
Extended Care for Alcohol Recovery
Granite Recovery Centers offers gender-specific extended care options to patients who have completed a primary residential alcohol rehab program and wish to continue to develop recovery skills and undergo treatment. The transitional period between primary care and independent living can pose many challenges to an alcoholic or addict’s recovery. Extended care eases that transition, helping clients reinforce necessary skills and put healthy coping mechanisms into place while they adjust to a new lifestyle.
Our extended care facilities offer clients the ability to develop life and recovery skills in beautiful apartment-style housing, while providing them the structure and supervision that daily schedules, recovery meetings, and psychotherapy offer. Emphasis is placed on guiding clients through step work, teaching them vital life skills like money management and employment training, and slowly integrating more practical experiences of independent living.
Sober Living Facilities for Alcoholism
Sober living facilities perform a similar function to extended care, but with more freedom for clients. They are ideal for those who wish to start living independently while putting recovery skills into action, but need a safe, supportive environment with access to recovery resources to fall back on if difficulties should arise. Our sober living houses are based around supporting clients’ continued sobriety using 12-step work. Clients also develop responsibility with chores, employment, and the regular practice of life skills, all reinforced via accountability meetings and strong support from peer residents. All of this facilitates continued rehabilitation from alcohol, drugs, and the psychological and social roadblocks that led to their use in the first place.
Outpatient Care and Continued Sobriety
Outpatient care for recovering alcoholics is usually the last step of formal treatment. Outside of the controlled environments of primary treatment or sober living houses, recovering alcoholics will likely experience situations and opportunities that challenge their sobriety. Temptations and triggers to abuse alcohol can arise easily, whether at a social gathering or due to stressful life events.
Outpatient care is one way to continue developing skills and receiving support to healthily manage these situations. Granite Recovery Centers offers an Intensive Outpatient Program based around step work, individualized care, skill development, and community building. The goal is to provide clients with strategies that speak to their individual needs and struggles with sobriety, as well as an environment in which to discuss and work on those challenges with others in recovery.
Alcohol Rehab Center at Granite Recovery Centers
Alcohol doesn’t have to control one’s life forever. With the proper care, alcoholism and similar substance abuse issues can be treated, along with their underlying causes. Granite Recovery Centers’ integrated care model of 12-Step work and clinical psychotherapy attacks alcohol and substance abuse from every angle. With personalized treatment planning that focuses on each person’s goals, we push the client to not simply recover, but better themselves in every way.
With a full continuum of recovery care that meets clients where they are in their battle with alcohol, our team will help you or your loved one leave alcohol (and other drugs) behind, and build the life of lasting sobriety that you deserve.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an alcohol use disorder and want more information on our alcohol rehab centers in New Hampshire, please call our admissions specialists at 855.712.7784 .