15 Nov Different Therapeutic Approaches Used for Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Alcohol use is marked by an uncontrolled and compulsive need to drink. We may seek treatment regarding alcohol use, if we; feel a compulsion to drink, feel we no longer have control over how much we’re drinking, feel uncomfortable when we are unable to drink. Not having an alcoholic drink may lead to challenges in managing emotions and day to day responsibilities.
When seeking treatment for alcohol use, the first step may be to speak with a doctor and to create recovery goals. From this assessment, the doctor will advise the next step, which could include: a treatment centre (inpatient or outpatient), therapy (biofeedback, cognitive behaviour therapy, psychotherapy, family behaviour therapy, or holistic therapy) and/or a support group.
Types of Alcohol Addiction Treatment
i) Inpatient Rehab
Inpatient alcohol rehabilitation offers structured treatment to address multiple facets of a person’s addiction. During this treatment, the patient must live in a substance-free facility where they get round-the-clock support and medical care. Inpatient rehab is good for anyone with chronic addiction and those with co-occurring/behavioural disorders.
ii) Outpatient Rehab
An outpatient rehab program offers the same level of care, treatment, and therapies as an inpatient one. The only difference is that with the former, the person gets to live at their residence. Outpatient rehabs allow for the individual to continue their daily routines such as: managing jobs, careers, and families.
This type of rehabilitation approach may be more appealing to those wanting to maintain their day to day routine. The challenges associated with having access to our home and the surrounding environments (e.g., LCBO, beer store, parties, etc.) could be triggering or create difficulties in maintaining sobriety. Having access to such things can create triggers and a challenge around maintaining sobriety.
Therefore, outpatient programs are best suited for those with mild addiction and have a strong support system around them.
Therapeutic Approaches Used for Alcohol Addiction Treatment
i) Biofeedback Therapy
Biofeedback therapy has been researched for over 25 years and has shown to be an effective treatment. The treatment process assists and teaches the client to produce more normal EEG patterns. Biofeedback therapy is a computer based, brain-training technique used to help with developing more control over brainwave activity resulting in improved life functioning.
During a typical treatment, sensors are placed on the scalp of a client to measure brainwaves through a computer software system. Each session ranges between 20-60 minutes and it is recommended that a person attend two to three sessions per week.
These electronic sensors monitor the ongoing brain activity which is recorded as brain wave patterns. Once the therapist reviews the results, a conversation is had with the client to discuss and recommend additional psychological techniques for working through the addiction.
ii) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Studies tell us that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a highly effective method for working through alcohol addiction. The therapist works towards identifying negative and destructive thought patterns and behaviours. The therapist uses CBT to work towards replacing the negative thoughts and behaviours with positive ones.
The success of CBT relies on the conversation between a therapist and the client. It is a solution-based therapy that relies more on constructive actions rather than the medical diagnosis itself. Common elements of CBT are – challenging and confronting fears, harmful beliefs, ways to improve social interaction, and coping skills to manage cravings.
During a psychotherapy session, the client discusses their personal challenges and difficult experiences with a registered social worker, registered psychotherapist and/or psychologist. This therapeutic approach can be used in individual, group and family settings.
The therapist uses the information collected to analyze a person’s long-standing issues, daily challenges, past traumas, fears, and personal difficulties. If the client wishes to see a psychologist, they would be able to receive a diagnosis and prescribed medication.
iv) Family Behaviour Therapy
Addiction has multiple facets. It affects not only the individual suffering with the addiction but those closest to the person such as family and friends. There are several cases where family members are unknowingly enabling the individual’s addiction. Family behaviour therapy addresses all these things.
During a therapy session in an addiction rehab centre, families work on setting goals, and learning behavioural techniques. The idea is to improve family dynamics and make it more conducive to encouraging recovery and healthy living. In doing this, it encourages healthy communication between family members. To foster recovery, family members are encouraged to work on their roles and partake in effective boundary setting moving forward.
Family behaviour therapy is highly effective in getting families to work as a cohesive unit. They learn to support and help each other to achieve sobriety goals. This type of therapy is typically conducted at a later stage of treatment, after alcohol detox is completed.
v) Holistic Therapy
Holistic alcohol addiction treatment focuses on healing a person’s mind, body, and soul. It takes into account the overall well-being of a person. This is achieved through managing physical withdrawal symptoms as well.
Holistic therapies include:
- Guided meditation
- Mindfulness practices
- Acupuncture and acupressure
- Massage therapy
- Sound therapy
Finding Support Groups
After an individual has completed a rehabilitation program for their addiction it is suggested that they seek support through external groups. Being part of an external group support system assists in the transition from rehabilitation centre to navigating their new sober life.
Support groups are instrumental in encouraging long-term recovery and care both during and after rehab. They provide a safe place to speak with like minded individuals and seek a sponsor. Support groups such as some outlined below are easily accessible to those in all communities and offered at various times each week.
These are highly popular programs that are considered to be standard for sustainable recovery post-rehab. The program follows a 12-step model and 12 traditions that the participants complete. Each step allows the person to adapt to their surroundings and meet personal goals.
Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are the two most well-regarded 12-steps programs in the US and Canada.
Alcoholics Anonymous meetings offer a common ground for individuals to get together and share their stories with others who have lived very similar stories.Those who join AA meetings appreciate that they are able to relate and draw inspiration from others in the group through storytelling.
During group sessions many conversations are had around how recovery both impacted and improved the person’s life. AA meetings are held daily in community and/or church buildings allowing for those in recovery to attend as frequently as needed.
There are two types of meetings – open and closed. The former invites loved ones and family members to attend while the latter is solely for recovering individuals.
Inspired by Alcoholics Anonymous, NA meetings create a sense of community for recovering addicts. Members get to meet and motivate one another by sharing their success stories and anecdotes. It helps each other to stay committed to living a drug-free life and avoid relapses.
Alcohol addiction is one of the most common forms of addiction. It is highly treatable and there is plenty of help and resources available to achieve sustainable, life-long sobriety.
Holly a freelance writer who loves to help those struggling with addiction. Holly’s own personal experience has inspired her to share resources and be part of others’ recovery journey. Holly has been sober for five years and counting. Holly is a frequent contributor to many addiction-related blogs and organizations such as the Addiction Treatment Division and Inpatient-Rehab.org.