Alcohol remains at the top of a list of dangerous substances that are legal, readily available, and abused by Americans. There are several support groups for Alcohol Abuse (“Alcohol Use Disorder” or “AUD); programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have demonstrated beneficial outcomes for up to 15 months for AUD. However, given a high correlation between alcohol (and other substances) abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders, these types of programs may have limited effectiveness in addressing an individual’s long-term needs. If these co-occurring mental health conditions are the cause, and substance abuse is the symptom, then mental health must also be treated. In these and other serious AUDs, alcohol treatment can be an option based upon an assessment by a qualified clinical professional. This comprehensive assessment would examine several individual factors:
Alcohol and other drug use and previous treatment outcomes
- Drinking patterns or behaviors
- Other Substance Use Disorders (SUDs)
- The severity of alcohol or other drug problems
- Prior treatment experience and outcomes
Other health issues
- Co-occurring mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression
- Other medical conditions such as diabetes
Living and social situation
- Stable support from family and social network
- Living situation
Legal system issues
- Drinking-related arrests, probation, or other legal issues that require coordination with the justice system or social services.
- Family Court and Department of Child & Family Services
- Safety-sensitive occupations such as law enforcement, physicians, and airline pilots
Once a comprehensive assessment is completed, a treatment plan is provided designed to offer a plan of action which may be:
Outpatient Programs: This level of care is more appropriate if the assessment finds that the person entering treatment has:
- a less severe AUD
- a stable living environment
- supportive family, friends, and sober network
- access to transportation
- generally in good health
Outpatient treatment encompasses several different levels of care depending on the severity of the AUD. These alcohol abuse treatment programs are usually 8-12 weeks in length and vary in the required weekly hours based on attendance of group and one-on-one therapies. Outpatient programs are designed to create guardrails and structure while allowing individuals to maintain much of their regular daily routine. Drug testing and group support add program accountability.
Residential or In-Patient Programs: This level of care is more appropriate if the assessment concludes that the individual has:
- more severe AUD
- unstable housing
- limited transportation
- few nondrinking peers
- has other health issues in addition to AUD
In the event that the individual has one or many of these characteristics, they may benefit from extended time in a residential treatment program (In-Patient) that provides alcohol abuse treatment. These programs may be good for anyone who needs a more structured living environment with a predictable daily schedule. A person with significant health issues should consult his or her primary care doctor and might consider a hospital-based inpatient program where medical staff is available. Following this highly structured Residential treatment, the individual is “stepped down” to an Outpatient level of care as described above.
Finding the right alcohol abuse treatment option is what’s important. Treatment can save your life. Call us today at (772) 584-3083 to schedule a comprehensive assessment.