The most serious public health problems in America are alcohol-related issues. These include drinking too often, too fast, and too much.
At some point in their lives, many people have difficulty controlling their drinking. More than 14,000,000 adults aged 18 and over have alcohol use disorder (AUD), and one in 10 children lives in a home with someone who is a drinker.
Is Treatment Effective?
The good news about AUD is that most people can get treatment, no matter how severe it may be.
Research has shown that approximately one-third of those who have been treated for alcohol problems do not experience any further symptoms one year later. Others report significantly less drinking and have fewer alcohol-related issues.
Signs That You May Have An Alcohol Problem
A medical condition where a patient’s drinking causes distress and harm (AUD). This condition can be mild or severe, and it is diagnosed when the patient answers “yes” to at least two of these questions.
Have you been able to:
- Have you ever drank longer than what you planned?
- Stop drinking or cut down more than once.
- Have you spent a lot of time drinking? You were unable to get over the effects or are you sick?
- Experienced craving – a strong desire or need to drink?
- Did you find that drinking or becoming sick from drinking often interfered with your family’s care? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
- You continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family and friends?
- Have you given up, or reduced activities that were important to you or that gave you the pleasure to drink?
- You have been in many situations after drinking, and you are more likely to get hurt (such as driving, swimming or using machinery, walking or biking in dangerous areas, or engaging in unsafe sex).
- You continued to drink even if it made you feel anxious or depressed, or added to another health issue. After a memory block?
- Did you consume more than usual to achieve the effect you desire? You found that the normal number of drinks had a lower effect than it did before.
You experienced withdrawal symptoms when the alcohol effects had worn off. These included trouble sleeping, irritability and anxiety, depression, restlessness, or nausea. You sensed things you didn’t know were there.
Drinking may be a problem if you experience any of these symptoms. You need to get help as soon as possible if you have more symptoms than usual. To determine if you have AUD, a health professional can perform a formal assessment.
Different Types Of Behavioral Treatments
Cognitive-Behavioral therapy can be done one-on-one or in small groups. This therapy focuses on the identification of “cues” that lead to excessive drinking and how to manage the stress that could lead to relapse. It is designed to help people cope with everyday situations that could trigger problems with drinking and change their thought patterns.
Motivational Enhancement Treatment is a brief program that builds and strengthens motivation to alter drinking habits. Therapy focuses on the benefits and drawbacks of seeking treatment. It also helps to develop confidence and the skills to keep the plan in place.
Family program counseling includes spouses and family members in the treatment process. This can help to repair and improve family relationships. Research shows that patients who receive family therapy have a higher chance of abstaining (stopping drinking) than those who are undergoing individual counseling.
Short Interventions are short, one-on-1 or small-group counseling sessions. They are limited in time. Counselors provide information about the client’s drinking habits and possible risks. The counselor will provide personalized feedback and help the client set goals and suggest ways to achieve them.
The decision to seek treatment is more important than how it is done. As long as there are no confrontations and the approach incorporates empathy and motivational support.