According to the NIAAA, relapse is common among those who are recovering from alcohol addiction. Without aftercare (the final step in the rehab process), relapses may escalate from a small setback, to a total return into alcohol abuse and dependence. The most commonly-known form of aftercare is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but there are many other options that are outlined below.
Of those treatment methods that are medically approved, not all are equally effective in terms of providing the best possible basis for a permanent recovery. It’s generally agreed that residential rehabilitation – “rehab” – is the best approach to treating addiction, and has consistently delivered the highest rate of success. Of course, every addict is unique and responds differently to different types of treatment, different therapy models, different medications et cetera; however, the medical and therapeutic staff at rehab have experience of working with countless individuals and their expertise can be invaluable when it comes to optimising your own journey to recovery.
NIAAA says a relapse typically follows a predictable path. The person in recovery is placed in a high-risk situation, and the person isn’t able to handle that situation effectively. That lack of effectiveness can prompt the person to feel somehow vulnerable or weak, and it can lead to a craving for alcohol. After a weak moment, people just begin to attribute life’s good things to alcohol. They then have a lapse and drink just a bit. In time, they start to drink more and more.
In the United States, drug policy is primarily controlled by the federal government. The Department of Justice's Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces controlled substances laws and regulations. The Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) serve to protect and promote public health by controlling the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of products, like medications.
The length of time an addict will remain as an inpatient in rehab will vary from individual to individual, and different facilities will offer programs of different durations. A typical stay will last around a month, although some shorter-term programs – one or two weeks – are available, in many addicts choose to stay longer than a month if they feel their recovery will be helped by an extended stay.
There is a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and violent crimes like assault, armed robbery, rape, and homicide. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that in up to half of all murders, the perpetrator consumed alcohol before committing the crime. Approximately 33 percent of sexual assault victims state that their assailant was under the influence of alcohol. In violent crimes where alcohol is involved, up to 60 percent of victims are injured or killed.
It is also estimated that around a third of all older adults with alcohol problems developed them in later life for the first time. It has been suggested that factors such as social isolation, poor health, bereavement, and boredom all contribute to alcohol abuse in older people. Some older adults may begin self-medicating with alcohol when experiencing chronic pain due to age-related health problems.
One of many recovery methods are 12-step recovery programs, with prominent examples including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Drug Addicts Anonymous and Pills Anonymous. They are commonly known and used for a variety of addictions for the individual addicted and the family of the individual. Substance-abuse rehabilitation (rehab) centers offer a residential treatment program for some of the more seriously addicted, in order to isolate the patient from drugs and interactions with other users and dealers. Outpatient clinics usually offer a combination of individual counseling and group counseling. Frequently, a physician or psychiatrist will prescribe medications in order to help patients cope with the side effects of their addiction. Medications can help immensely with anxiety and insomnia, can treat underlying mental disorders (cf. self-medication hypothesis, Khantzian 1997) such as depression, and can help reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptomology when withdrawing from physiologically addictive drugs. Some examples are using benzodiazepines for alcohol detoxification, which prevents delirium tremens and complications; using a slow taper of benzodiazepines or a taper of phenobarbital, sometimes including another antiepileptic agent such as gabapentin, pregabalin, or valproate, for withdrawal from barbiturates or benzodiazepines; using drugs such as baclofen to reduce cravings and propensity for relapse amongst addicts to any drug, especially effective in stimulant users, and alcoholics (in which it is nearly as effective as benzodiazepines in preventing complications); using clonidine, an alpha-agonist, and loperamide for opioid detoxification, for first-time users or those who wish to attempt an abstinence-based recovery (90% of opioid users relapse to active addiction within eight months or are multiple relapse patients); or replacing an opioid that is interfering with or destructive to a user's life, such as illicitly-obtained heroin, dilaudid, or oxycodone, with an opioid that can be administered legally, reduces or eliminates drug cravings, and does not produce a high, such as methadone or buprenorphine – opioid replacement therapy – which is the gold standard for treatment of opioid dependence in developed countries, reducing the risk and cost to both user and society more effectively than any other treatment modality (for opioid dependence), and shows the best short-term and long-term gains for the user, with the greatest longevity, least risk of fatality, greatest quality of life, and lowest risk of relapse and legal issues including arrest and incarceration.
Alcoholism is both a physical and mental illness, which causes people to drink alcohol despite it resulting in negative consequences. It affects hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, and millions more around the world. Although not a curable illness, it can be effectively treated and managed with a programme of detoxification and rehabilitation.
Meditation is all about focusing inward; it is about living in the here and now. Combining meditation with counselling enables patients to come to terms with themselves and the chronic illness they are dealing with. It focuses on what needs to be done now to get well. Each of the individual instances of living in the moment eventually add up to a lifetime of thoughtful living. Many recovering alcoholics find this way of thinking indispensable to their recovery.