Choosing an Alcohol Treatment Center
What Should I Look for in an Alcohol Rehab?
Treatment for alcoholism is comprised of detox, therapy, and aftercare planning. Types of facilities include traditional, holistic, luxury, teen-specific, gender-specific, and dual diagnosis. These are usually broken into inpatient and outpatient centers. Other factors to consider in a rehab include the setting, treatment philosophy, and amenities.
Alcohol abuse is an epidemic in the United States. More than half of Americans report drinking frequently, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and this is likely due in large part to availability.
Alcohol is everywhere, and few Americans know exactly what constitutes a single serving of an alcoholic beverage, which makes it difficult to gauge when frequent drinking becomes binge drinking and when binge drinking becomes alcohol abuse or addiction.
According to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction, a standard drink means about 5 ounces of wine (there are five servings in a 750 milliliter bottle), a 12-ounce beer, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor. By this standard, men who drink more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 per week and women who drink more than three drinks on any day or more than 7 drinks per week are considered “at-risk” or “heavy” drinkers. Of the people who have one heavy drinking day a month, one in five are living with an alcohol abuse or addiction issue. This number increases to one in three when the number of heavy drinking days increases to one per week and increases again to one in two when the person has two or more heavy drinking days each week.
Despite the legality of buying and consuming alcohol for those over the age of 21, heavy drinking, alcohol abuse and alcoholism all bring significant health risks and mental health risks to patients. It is important to recognize the signs of alcohol abuse early and get help immediately – before it’s too late.
If you or someone you care about is living with an alcohol abuse or addiction issue, don’t wait to seek the necessary alcohol treatment. Contact us today to learn about your options in alcohol care and treatment and to find a program that will deliver the therapeutic recovery you or your loved one needs to succeed in life without alcohol.
Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Statistics
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the following facts and statistics demonstrate the need for alcohol treatment:
- Each day, about 12,000 US teenagers choose to use alcohol for the first time.
- A large number of American adolescents report trying alcohol as early as sixth or seventh grade. Studies show that those who begin drinking at such an early age are more likely to suffer academically, physically and emotionally.
- Those who start drinking as young teens are four times more likely to become alcoholics later in their lives.
- A third of high school students surveyed in 2007 reported drinking five or more drinks in one sitting within the last 30 days.
- Each year, 1,700 college students are killed due to alcohol (directly and indirectly).
- The cost of alcohol abuse in the US is approximately $220 billion each year (as per the last record from 2005).
- According to, in 2009, 23.5 million persons needed substance abuse treatment while only 2.6 million enrolled in a specialty drug or alcohol treatment facility. Twenty-three percent of those enrolled drug and alcohol rehab were seeking treatment specifically for alcoholism.
Risks of Avoiding Treatment
Many Americans have heard that drinking a small amount of alcohol is good for their heart health and use this as a reason for their drinking. However, it should be noted that it is red wine specifically that has been shown to have benefits for cardiovascular function – and that is only when about 2.5 to 3 ounces are consumed once per day. More than a single glass of wine with dinner brings with it too many other health risks to balance out the positive associations with small amounts of wine, and drinking in large amounts frequently can mean a huge number of other problems when the issue goes unchecked.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the risks of avoiding alcohol treatment when it’s needed include:
- Accidents. Accidental injury and death caused by alcohol are exceedingly common. About 60 percent of deaths due to burns, drowning or homicide and 40 percent of fatal car accidents, suicides and deadly falls happen because someone was under the influence of alcohol. About half of all serious physical injuries and sexual attacks are triggered by alcohol abuse and addiction as well.
- Health problems. The risks for chronic and deadly disorders like depression, sexually transmitted diseases, liver disease, a number of cancers, heart disease and more are caused by heavy drinking.
- Birth defects. When pregnant mothers drink, it can damage the baby’s development, causing learning disabilities, brain damage, physical deformities and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). No amount of drinking during pregnancy has been shown to be safe.
- Alcohol abuse and addiction. It is estimated that about 18 million people in the United States are living with an alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction disorder. Addiction of any kind destroys lives.
- Personal problems. Losing one’s license due to driving under the influence, damaged reputation caused by behavior choices made while drinking, legal problems and fines for being drunk in public or causing a disturbance, interpersonal relationship issues due to broken trust and poor choices while drinking – all these can decrease the quality of life of a heavy drinker.
Alcoholism is a serious disease that can rob you of everything you value in life. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, alcoholism and alcohol abuse can lead to nerve damage, brain damage, depression and suicide. Alcohol-related accidents also lead to serious injuries and death all across the country.
If you struggle with alcoholism, there is help available in the form of alcohol treatment centers. These centers allow patients to detox in a safe, comfortable setting, under the supervision of medical professionals. However, detox in and of itself is not enough. If you truly want to overcome your issues with alcohol, you must participate in a full treatment program that deals with the reasons why you started abusing alcohol in the first place.
What Does Treatment Entail?
A complete alcohol treatment program will generally carry you through the entire process of recovery – from detox to aftercare. Here are the main phases of treatment:
- Detox. During detox, your body will slowly purge all the alcohol toxins from your body. Though withdrawal symptoms do occur during alcohol detox, these symptoms can be managed with medical help.
- Therapy. This is where the true work of recovery takes place. You’ll work with a counselor on a one-on-one basis to get to the reasons behind your issues with alcohol. You’ll also attend group therapy sessions where you can learn from others struggling with alcoholism.
- Aftercare. Recovery doesn’t end when you complete your stay at a rehab center. You’ll need to continue to work at your recovery to maintain your sobriety. Treatment programs offer aftercare support, such as references for sober living homes, 12-step meetings and other therapeutic activities.
The alcohol detoxification process begins when a patient dependent upon alcohol stops drinking. According to Medline Plus, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as five hours after the last drink, peaking between 48 and 72 hours and lasting up to two weeks depending upon the severity of the condition and other co-occurring disorders. Medline Plus also reports that withdrawal symptoms can include:
Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms
- Cravings for alcohol
- Fuzzy thinking
- Mood swings
- Insomnia despite fatigue
Physical withdrawal symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach cramping
- Clammy skin
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
In serious cases, delirium tremens can also result causing an intensified experience of the above symptoms as well as fever, seizures, hallucination and other serious issues.
If there are any withdrawal symptoms present at all, alcohol treatment should start with alcohol detox – but it is important to note that detox alone is not enough to effectively treat alcohol abuse and addiction. Further treatment is required.
When you’re ready to take the all-important step and seek treatment for your alcohol issues, you should be aware of your options. Finding an exclusive alcohol treatment center in which you feel comfortable can make a significant difference in your recovery.
How Do I Know Which Alcohol Treatment Program Is Right for Me?
Ultimately, you should choose the program that fits best with your lifestyle and personal beliefs. Consider these factors when choosing a facility:
- The overall treatment philosophy. Pick a program that melds with your personal beliefs. If you’re an atheist, a program based on the 12-step principals might not be for you, due to the emphasis on a higher power.
- The setting. Do you love natural beauty, or do you prefer to be in the city? Consider the location of the facility.
- The amenities. Alcohol rehab centers range from sterile and basic to luxurious and comfortable.
- The other patients. Since you’ll be in group therapy with other patients, you’ll be more likely to benefit from this therapy if you can relate to the other patients. Executive, gender-specific or luxury programs may ensure that you’ll be with others to whom you can relate.
- Additional therapies. While most programs will feature detox and therapy, inquire about additional therapies, such as art, music, animal or adventure therapy. If a particular therapy appeals to you, make sure the program you choose provides it.
Don’t feel like you need to rush the decision process. Consider a few options and choose the alcohol treatment program that resonates with you. Your comfort level can make a big difference in your motivation and focus in recovery.
The crux of an effective alcohol treatment program is the counseling portion of the program. Here, patients can explore the different issues related to alcohol abuse and addiction. These can include traumatic events that occurred prior to the abuse of alcohol including sexual trauma, child abuse, or emotionally difficult events like divorce or death of a loved one. In many instances, patients living with a co-occurring mental health issue like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other issues will attempt to medicate the symptoms with alcohol rather than seek help. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, about 37 percent of those in treatment for an alcohol disorder also struggled with a co-occurring mental health disorder.
There are also alcohol-induced disorders that patients in recovery must address in counseling. These disorders can be mental health issues like mania, anxiety, narcissism, depression and others. Traumas that occur while under the influence are common as well. Becoming the victim of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and/or assault are far more common when under the influence of alcohol. Also, many who abuse alcohol become perpetrators of domestic assault, physical attack and sexual abuse due in part to their issues with alcohol. All of these issues should be addressed during counseling.
Though these issues and disorders will not be resolved during alcohol treatment – especially short or outpatient programs – the foundation can be laid for effective healing during the rehab experience. If one-on-one counseling, group sessions, 12-steps, family therapy and/or other types of therapy are not the focus of alcoholism treatment, abstinence will be impossible for the patient to maintain.
When it comes to alcohol treatment, you can truly find an option that fits your lifestyle, personal preferences and personality. You may have a set idea on what you expect of rehab; however, it’s worth your while to step outside the box and consider all your options.
Types of Alcohol Treatment
- Traditional rehab. This approach employs the use of medication and psychotherapy to address the addiction from all angles. Medication is often used to mitigate the severity of withdrawal symptoms during detox.
- Holistic alcohol treatment. This whole-body approach to recovery focuses on the connection between the mind and body. Medications are generally not used in this form of treatment.
- Teen-specific treatment. Teens and young adults generally do better in recovery when they are surrounded by their peers.
- Executive alcohol rehab. These programs cater to executives and businesspeople who may need to maintain some work responsibilities while in treatment
- Dual diagnosis treatment. If you suffer from a secondary condition, such as a mental health issue, in addition to alcoholism, it’s important to seek help at a facility that specializes in dual diagnosis. You’ll be able to effectively treatment both conditions simultaneously.
- Luxury rehab. These programs feature posh facilities and various amenities, such as gourmet meals, massage therapy, adventure programs and cutting-edge therapeutic developments.
- Gender-specific treatment. Some people may feel more comfortable in women-only or men-only programs. Without the distraction of the opposite sex, some are better able to focus on their recovery, and feel more comfortable sharing in group sessions.
- 12-step programs. Programs, such as AA, hold meetings all over the country on a daily basis. After you have exited a formal treatment program, these 12-step meetings can help you maintain your sobriety.
Inpatient or Outpatient?
While both types of alcohol treatment can effectively help you to achieve recovery, those with longstanding issues with alcohol are better served in an inpatient program. Since you live at the facility full time, you’ll be able to focus all your energy on your recovery. It’s your life and your health – it’s worth the effort.
Challenges to Alcohol Treatment
There are a number of obstacles that patients must face as they go through alcohol recovery. Obstacles begin before they even start the intake process into a rehabilitation program. These primary challenges include:
- Denial. Many living with alcohol disorders don’t believe that their issues with drinking are serious enough to require treatment. An inability to recognize the serious effects of drinking can be a long-term obstacle to potential patients.
- Resources. Too many with alcohol disorders believe that they are limited to options that are located nearby. Few realize that they can leave the state or travel across the country and often should do so in order to receive the best care possible.
- Finances. Money is the primary obstacle to enrolling in a program. Few have the cost of rehab sitting in the bank and many don’t realize that insurance can be a huge help. Financing, too, is a common option for covering the cost of rehab now and paying for it later at a pace that suits their budget.
During alcohol recovery, a number of challenges can come up, and many patients will leave their program and end up relapsing as a result. Here are a number of issues that can be obstacles to effective care during alcohol treatment:
- Detox. Withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable and many patients feel that they simply can’t or don’t want to complete the process of detox. Many would prefer to drink. These feelings are normal and they are part of why it is important to go through detox at an inpatient, supervised program.
- Problems at home. Issues that family members experience at home or relationship problems with a spouse or significant other can be extremely disturbing to patients. In many cases, worry about what it happening at home can cause patients to leave treatment. It is important, for this reason, to initially limit communication with family and friends and learn how to prioritize health and well-being at least for the duration of care.
- Interpersonal issues. Problems with others in the program, especially peers also in recovery but occasionally with staff members, can make it difficult for some patients to focus on treatment. These issues can be used as a learning opportunity and an active practice for implementing positive communication rather than destructive choices to deal with the situation.
- Cravings. Even when things are going well, cravings for alcohol or missing the lifestyle of drinking can make it hard for patients to remain in treatment. Inpatient care provides patients with the round-the-clock support and care they need to continually be reminded of their goals and to stay on task during alcoholism treatment.
The challenges don’t stop when alcohol rehab ends. It’s important for patients to understand that no matter how positive they are about their recovery, there is always the risk of relapse. Some of the obstacles that can be a risk to recovery after alcohol treatment include:
- Old friends. When old friends continue to drink or use drugs, it can be difficult to say “no” over and over again. In some cases, it may be necessary to limit interactions with those who are actively abusing alcohol and make new friendships in recovery.
- Old habits, old haunts. Attempting to pick up where alcohol rehab interrupted in terms of schedules and hangouts can lead old thinking patterns and habits to return as well. Finding a new way home, a different dry cleaners, a new grocery store – anything to keep things fresh and interesting and avoid triggering an alcohol relapse.
- Returning to work or school. In the same way, going back to the stresses of work or school that may have initially been a breeding ground for alcoholic behavior can trigger a relapse as well. It may be necessary to make changes in this area if it’s a concern.
- Finding a new job or school program. Those who must find a new job or are beginning a school program in pursuit of a new job will likely find the process to be stressful – it’s stressful to everyone. Surrounding oneself with positive support is essential.
- New relationships. A common relapse trigger in recovery, it is recommended that those in relationships that began prior to treatment attend couples counseling to better deal with issues and those who are not in a relationship should avoid dating and getting involved for at least a year.
Aftercare services help patients to protect themselves from the pitfalls of building a new life in recovery. Personal therapy, 12-step meetings (Alcoholics Anonymous), family counseling, life coaching and even nutritional counseling and personal trainers can help recovering alcoholics to stay on track after alcohol treatment.
What Makes a Treatment Success Story?
Those who succeed in and after alcohol recovery have the resources they need to make better choices and enough time with proper guidance to practice making those choices before they go out on their own. Prioritizing physical health, mental health and abstinence above all else, recovering alcoholics can make sure that every day is one spent without alcohol when they begin that process with alcohol detox and treatment.
It all starts with a phone call. Contact us at Rehabs.com today to find the right alcoholism treatment program for you and to create a step-by-step plan that will enable you to stop drinking safely and learn how to live life without depending upon alcohol. Call now.
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