Alcohol addiction is one of the biggest crises facing public health in the United States as it affects people from all walks of life and continues to be one of the top preventable causes of death (second only to tobacco and a sedentary lifestyle). Because alcohol is legal and drinking socially is an accepted pastime, it can be difficult to identify an alcohol addiction as it is easy to hide and access to alcohol is wide-spread.
Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused drugs and, if not treated, can have a severe impact on physical and mental health, as well as damaging careers and personal relationships. Put simply; an alcohol addiction is pervasive and will impact every area of a person’s life. According to the NIAAA (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), there are more than 80 000 alcohol-related deaths in the States every year.
An alcohol use disorder has a serious negative impact on the entire body, particularly the brain, heart, liver, and pancreas. But despite the dangers, regular consumption of alcohol is on the rise with many people drinking to the point where it is dangerous or harmful.
Identifying that you or a loved one has an alcohol addiction is the beginning of the journey towards sobriety, the next step is to get help. Finding a rehabilitation center that is a good match for your needs can be challenging and there are some important questions to ask when deciding what you need from a rehabilitation center.
Before choosing a rehabilitation center for alcohol, it is important to understand how they approach the treatment process, if they offer medically-supervised alcohol detoxification, what their success track record looks like and if they are covered by your healthcare insurance.
Alcohol is the most common addiction in the States, and there are many treatment plans that have been developed to help patients recover from addiction. The most effective treatment programs aim to guide the patient through a medically-supervised detoxification process, followed by a counseling program that aims to understand the triggers and underlying reasons for the addiction. Through group and individual therapy sessions, patients are then given tools and structures to help them maintain their sobriety once they have completed in-patient treatment at a rehabilitation center for alcohol.
A good treatment center will offer treatment that addresses underlying and co-occurring disorders. It can be difficult for recovering alcoholics to maintain their sobriety once they leave the rehab facility as alcohol is prevalent in almost all areas of American society. Treatment, therefore, needs to focus on effective ways to manage triggers and cravings in order for long-term recovery to be possible. The process for treating an alcohol addiction typically begins with an inpatient alcohol detox, followed by a program designed to identify triggers and develop methods for effectively coping with them.
Inpatient care is important for individuals who need to focus completely on recovery without being distracted by the stresses and obligations of their regular life. Inpatient rehab offers 24/7 care, personalized support, and an environment that is completely free from any factors that might trigger a relapse.
Following an alcohol detox, the treatment program would typically include group and individual counseling sessions and behavioral therapies including CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and training on health and proper nutrition. The focus should always be on helping patients identify how they react in stressful situations (such as an argument with a spouse or losing a job) and helping them develop new responses and healthy ways of coping.
An alcohol detox is the process of completely flushing alcohol from the patient’s system and is the first step in alcohol rehabilitation. For the first two weeks of an alcohol detox, withdrawal symptoms are common and typically subside one to two weeks after starting detox although it may take longer depending on the severity of the patient’s addiction. Once the symptoms begin to subside, it is possible to focus on other aspects of the patient’s recovery including individual and group therapy.
Because alcohol is a depressant, over the course of a number of months or years of drinking, it causes your brain to stop producing certain chemicals that it gets from the alcohol. This then leads to a dependency. When you do an alcohol detox, because your brain is now dependent on the drug, it takes time for your body to adjust. It is this process of adjustment that leads to withdrawal symptoms such as fever, nausea, headaches, and hallucinations.
For many people, the thought of quitting drinking is difficult because the withdrawal symptoms during an alcohol detox can be extreme. Everyone reacts differently to a detox; some patients have minor discomfort while others can experience extreme pain. Withdrawal symptoms can change quickly and may escalate, especially if the patient has other health complications such as a history of lung or heart disease. This makes a medically-supervised detox essential. Doctors who specialize in detoxification should be available 24/7 to help manage pain and ensure that symptoms are actively monitored.
A supervised detox is necessary to prevent potentially fatal complications and can help ease discomfort. Medical management through the use of prescription drugs to ease the physical addiction symptoms (in combination with therapy) boosts recovery success rates significantly.
The use of medication helps ease the symptoms and allows patients to avoid relapsing. Common medications used in alcohol detox and recovery include:
The severity of withdrawal symptoms ranges from mild to life-threatening. The length of addiction and the severity are usually the two most important factors in determining the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. A long-term, serious addiction is more likely to result in severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures or hallucinations.
Minor symptoms include anxiety, sweating, nausea, insomnia, and headaches. More serious symptoms are tremors, seizures, hallucinations, disorientation and delirium tremens. Delirium Tremens (often referred to as DTS) is delirium caused by alcohol withdrawal. It usually starts within 2 to 5 days of a patient’s last drink and can be life-threatening. DTS includes shaking, confusion, high blood pressure, fever, and hallucinations. DTS, also serious, is uncommon affecting fewer than 5% of people who quit drinking alcohol.
For many people who quit alcohol, withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as two hours after the last drink. The most painful symptoms generally last less than a week, but symptoms can continue to occur for several weeks, even a year.
Every rehab center has a different approach to treating addiction, and many specialize in specific addictions such as alcoholism, or dual diagnosis patients. Different facilities have varying rates of success at treating different addictions. Choosing a facility that specializes in and has a good track record of treating alcohol addiction is important.
When investigating different rehabilitation centers, ensure that the one that you choose accepts your insurance.
Every rehab center is different, they all have a different program offering and recommendations for the most effective way to combat an addiction. What is covered by your insurance will depend on the rehab center you choose, the insurance company that you use and the policy that you hold.
Limitations that may apply include:
The best way to find out what coverage you are entitled to is to call the insurance company to determine what they will pay for. They should be able to assist with the status of your coverage, validity dates, services that will be included and the co-payment amount for which you will be responsible.
At Detox of South Florida, we have a relationship with most of the major health insurance companies and one of our customer care agents would be happy to speak with your insurance provider directly. They will be able to help you find out what is covered and to develop a treatment plan to maximize your benefits. We also have financing options available for individuals without insurance.
Please get in touch with us for coverage verification – we would love to journey with you on your path to sobriety.
Getting professional help for an alcohol use disorder will enable to you reclaim your life and is the best way to attain a life of sobriety, free from addiction. Finding the right rehabilitation center for alcohol in Florida will support you on your journey.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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