Alcoholism is a chronic, addictive disease. Addiction to alcohol can be caused psychologically or physiologically, through genetics, when the addict’s body is unable to process alcohol normally. Alcohol undermines an alcoholic’s ability to cope with the normal stresses and problems of life. The person’s emotions may become inflamed when they drink heavily and also when they stop drinking. Whether drinking or abstinent, an alcoholic often feels fearful, depressed, irritable and angry in exaggerated degrees. Alcohol also has an adverse affect on the brain and can cause a severe psychological distortion of an alcoholic’s personality. It’s important to know what to expect from alcohol rehab so you can focus on a full and lasting recovery.
Most alcoholics do not want to be helped when they are engaged in drinking, because they are unable to think rationally and are incapable of stopping on their own. Many alcoholics are forced into treatment programs. As the treatment progresses, the alcoholic begins to get motivated to recover and stay sober. Once an alcoholic stops drinking they can never safely return to it because their addiction can be re-activated.
The safest, most effective treatment for an alcoholic is at a rehabilitation center. Withdrawal from alcohol is a potentially life-threatening process that should not be attempted alone. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include: high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, headache, nausea, vomiting, sweating, seizures, hallucinations, irregular heart beat, shaking, confusion, fever and delirium tremons. The risk of seizures is high in alcoholics who have been through multiple detoxifications.
Alcohol Rehab and Detox
When an alcoholic enters an inpatient rehab center they will be given a physical exam and psychological assessment. Past medical history and addiction specifics will all become part of the assessment. Then a plan of treatment is devised to meet the alcoholic’s needs and address problems and recovery goals. Other medical problems and any co-occurring mental disorders will also be integrated into the treatment program. The patient will be treated holistically so that every area of their physical, mental and spiritual well-being is addressed.
Sometimes a patient will receive a medically managed detox process, to help ease the withdrawal symptoms. During withdrawal, the patient will be monitored and kept stable and as comfortable as possible. The medical staff at rehab centers usually consists of medical doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, nurses and more. These professionals are experienced and knowledgeable in addiction and recovery, and can offer the patient the best help in succeeding in treatment.
Psychological and behavioral therapy will help the patient become informed about their addiction problems. They will also learn to identify destructive thought and behavior patterns and change them into healthy, productive ones. The more the patient learns about alcoholism and their own physical and mental issues, the more equipped they will be toward changing for the better. Treatment programs also include learning how to cope with strong emotions, negative thoughts and feelings, cravings and triggers. Relapse prevention techniques are also taught and individual and group therapy provides a forum for new ideas and strategies.
Some alcoholics continue to be unhappy and depressed after they have stopped drinking. This problem is called the protracted withdrawal syndrome, and stems from the fact that the damage done to the physical body by excessive drinking has not reversed yet. The patient remains sick and requires additional therapy to assist them during this time of healing.
Malnutrition and dehydration are often times physical symptoms of alcoholism because the addict drank most of their calories. Food and water was most often substituted with alcohol, sugar, caffeine and junk food. Part of the healing process is to hydrate the body with water, and eat nutritious food along with vitamin/mineral supplementation. Foods containing sugar will increase depression, irritability and cravings to drink alcohol.
The rehab center will also offer other therapies and programs for the recovering alcoholic. Alternative therapies have a wide range of activities and that may interest the patient and also assist them in healing. Group therapy and 12-step programs are essential for the patient as is long-term aftercare counseling. Recovery is a life-long process that the patient must engage in to stay sober. Faith, family and friends can also offer the patient the strength, love, peace and hope that they need.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.