Alcohol abuse and alcoholism are widespread problems affecting millions of Americans. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), around 15 million Americans above the age of 18 were recorded as coping with alcohol use disorder, with 623,000 in the younger age bracket of 12 to 18 struggling with them. These are staggering numbers but also a clear indication to individuals living with AUD that they are certainly not alone.
There are around 15,000 drug and alcohol treatment centers spread around the country offering a wide variety of different routes to recovery from alcohol abuse and addiction. However, because alcohol use is a fairly accepted practice in modern society, there are still many individuals who choose not to seek out alcohol treatment centers to help them if they are losing control of their drinking. One of the key characteristics of alcoholism is that people continue to drink despite the devastation it is wreaking on their lives.
Knowing when a person is abusing alcohol or developing alcoholism can encourage them to enter an alcohol treatment center before their problems spiral out of control. In this article, we take a look at the signs and symptoms of AUD and how it can be effectively treated at an Elevate Addiction Services.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?
Physicians refer to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) when diagnosing AUD. There are 11 criteria which doctors can use to determine if a patient is abusing alcohol or developing alcohol addiction, as follows:
- The individual drinks more alcohol, or for longer, than intended
- They have tried several times to cut down or quit drinking but have been unsuccessful
- They spend a lot of time-consuming alcohol and often feel unwell from a hangover
- Drinking is interfering in their daily lives and relationships
- They experience cravings for alcohol
- They continue to use alcohol even if it is hurting loved ones and friends
- Activities that previously engage them have been neglected in favor of drinking
- Work performance is impaired as a result of excessive drinking
- They exhibit risk-taking behavior such as driving under the influence
It is important to note that alcohol dependence is not the same as AUD although people who are dealing with alcoholism are likely to also be dependent on alcohol. Dependence is what drives a person’s compulsion to abuse substances and is the key in developing alcohol addiction. If someone in the early stages of AUD checks into an alcohol treatment program before developing dependence, they have an excellent chance of achieving recovery sooner rather than later.
When Drinking Becomes Problematic
Although problem drinking is a significant problem in the US, not everyone who drinks to excess has developed dependence or meets the criteria of an AUD diagnosis. The point at which an individual has become dependent on alcohol is generally characterized by a compulsive need to drink rather than a desire to. Once problem drinking has gotten out of control, it is likely the individual has AUD. Research undertaken in 2014 found that 90% of people drinking too much, and even regularly, had not become physically dependent on alcohol. Around one in every three American adults drinks heavily and meets the criteria of DSM-5, whereas nine out of ten don’t.
Some of the signs to look out for include:
- Frequent drinking
- Consuming drinks rapidly
- Not recognizing how much alcohol has been consumed or being deceptive about the issue
- Being unable to stop drinking until completely drunk
- Missing work or school and neglecting responsibilities at home
- Being drunk at the workplace
- Operating heavy machinery while drunk or other risk-taking behaviors
- Using alcohol as a way of self-medicating a mental health condition
- Experiencing health problems as a result of excessive alcohol intake
Effective Holistic Detox and AUD Treatment at Elevate
Elevate Addiction Services believes in using natural therapies to enable a patient’s body to heal itself gently rather than with medications that are widely used for alcohol treatment elsewhere. This is because we know our patients have a better chance of remaining substance-free when they are armed with coping mechanisms to help them protect their sobriety and prevent relapse in recovery.
Our alcohol treatment program includes the following components, with a duration of around 30 days each:
- Physical rejuvenation
- Emotional renewal
The Advantages of Holistic Detox for AUD
The majority of detox centers are quick to use medications to treat some of the more severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. However, it is not unusual for this to lead to individuals replacing one dependency with another. At Elevate’s alcohol treatment centers, our staff has the training to provide any of these alcohol withdrawal treatment meds to make detox less distressing, although we do so with caution. Indeed, if a client requires meds when they are detoxing from alcohol, we will ensure they are no longer using them by the time they complete rehab.
The holistic approach to detox is ideally drug-free although it is also important that detox treatment is administered responsively. There are a number of holistic therapies that are used to ease the symptoms of detox such as muscle and joint aches and pains like aromatherapy and massage therapy. Mindfulness practices such as deep-breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation are also used through the detox process as part of alcohol withdrawal treatment. Many of the holistic techniques used in the detoxification phase of an Elevate alcoholism treatment program are continued throughout the course of the rehab program.