Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease that requires a multi-pronged approach to treatment. Unlike other medical diseases, alcoholism is not only a physiological disease but has psychological and social contributing factors. Therefore alcohol treatment has to target all aspects of the alcoholic’s physical, mental and emotional health as well as their social circumstances.
The first step for treatment of alcoholism is for the alcoholic to realize and identify the problem and admit that they need help. Attempting any alcohol detox or treatment without the voluntary participation of the sufferer is pointless and a recovering alcoholic will quickly relapse.
The treatment process usually involves the following steps :
- Detoxification (alcohol detox)
- Psychiatric and drug treatment
- Counseling which may start prior, during or after the detox process.
- Continuing support
Treatment for alcoholism usually depends on the level of dependence and health status of the sufferer. If an alcoholic is able to stop consuming alcohol without suffering from alcohol withdrawal signs and symptoms or affecting their health, they may be able to avoid the detoxification (alcohol detox) stage. This however is rare in alcohol addiction although it may be seen in alcohol abusers and binge drinkers.
Detoxification (Alcohol Detox)
Alcohol detoxification is the initial process of alcoholism treatment for any person with an alcohol dependence. The purpose of the alcohol detox is to monitor, treat and reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms in a controlled environment as the body weans off alcohol. The process lasts between 5 to 10 days and sedation may be necessary for alcoholics suffering with severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms or exhibiting aggressive behavior.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may be the most intense up to 10 days after stopping alcohol consumption however certain signs and symptoms may continue up to one month after stopping alcohol consumption.
A proper alcohol detox process should not be conducted at home or by locking the alcoholic in an environment with no medical supervision. Severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms like convulsions, hypertension and “blackouts” can result in medical complications or contribute to self-inflicted or accidental injury and death.
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