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Alcoholism Treatment in NH

Alcoholism Treatment: Options for the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

When someone suffers from an addiction to alcohol, it can have significant negative impacts on every aspect of their life. There are many reasons why a person may choose to start drinking, and once it becomes a habit, it can be very difficult, and even dangerous, for them to quit on their own. Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of unhealthy drinking patterns can be incredibly important to your overall health or that of a loved one.

As an adult in the United States, it can be difficult to find events or activities where alcohol isn’t readily available for consumption. Despite the cultural acceptance of drinking, for many, it can become a slippery slope that ends in addiction. What was once a jolly, celebratory activity can quickly become a source of depression, shame, and any number of physical or psychological health issues.

Addiction Recovery Services is here to help educate you about the cycles of harmful alcohol addiction and your options for recovery. The first step in overcoming an addiction is understanding it.

What Is Alcoholism, or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

It’s important to know that the term “alcoholism” isn’t a formal, clinical term. It’s used in everyday conversation and refers to when a person’s drinking habits start to have a negative impact on important aspects of their life. The current medically preferred term is “alcohol use disorder” or simply “AUD.”

As described by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), “AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disorder characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health hazards.”

While other drugs may get more attention from the media, alcohol consumption has been a major public health issue over the last decade. One NIAAA study from 2016 found that the citizens of New Hampshire consume more alcohol per person than people in any other state in the nation. While citizens of the United States were reported to have consumed 2.35 gallons of alcohol on average for the year 2016, people who live in New Hampshire consumed an average of 4.76 gallons. This far exceeds any other state and is more than twice the recommended alcohol consumption limit of 2.1 gallons per year.

The nationwide alcohol consumption numbers suggest this is hardly just a local issue.

Research from NIAAA also estimates 15 million people in the United States suffer from AUD. Approximately 5.8% — or 14.4 million — adults in the United States ages 18 and older had AUD in 2018; this includes about 9.2 million men and 5.3 million women.

Adolescents can be diagnosed with the disorder as well, and research found that in 2018, an estimated 401,000 adolescents ages 12-17 had AUD. Many of these people need treatment programs to help them quit.

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What Are the Signs of Alcohol Addiction or AUD?

A person may be diagnosed with AUD if their drinking has started to negatively affect many important aspects of their life. Addiction is not always an easy condition to identify, especially from the outside. That said, there are a number of certain behavior patterns to look out for when determining if you or a loved one is suffering from AUD.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) states that anyone who meets 2 of the 11 following criteria within a 12-month period may be diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. Here are some questions to consider to help determine whether you or a loved one may be suffering from a problem with alcohol.

In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer, than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking, or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
  • Experienced a craving — a strong need or urge — to drink?
  • More than once gotten into situations while or after drinking that increased your chances of getting hurt (such as driving, swimming, using machinery, walking in a dangerous area, or having unsafe sex)?
  • Found that drinking, or being sick from drinking, often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, in order to drink?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you wanted? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not actually there?

If any of these symptoms are things you or a loved one has experienced, your drinking habits may already be cause for concern. The more symptoms you’ve experienced, the more likely it is you’ve become physically dependent on alcohol and will need medically supervised detox.

At Addiction Recovery Services of New Hampshire, we understand and celebrate that you are so much more than your addiction. If these patterns sound familiar, it may be helpful to reach out to us.

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Alcoholism and Its Impact on Health

Someone who drinks alcohol occasionally will most likely not suffer any severe, lasting health effects if they are otherwise healthy. If we’re discussing someone who is a habitual heavy drinker, the effects of alcohol on their health start to become apparent. Someone who is suffering from AUD can expect their drinking to have many harmful health effects on many different systems of the body.

Liver Damage

The main function of the liver is to help filter out any toxins in the blood, including alcohol. When a person drinks too much too fast, the liver is unable to filter out all of the toxins in the blood. This leaves some alcohol in the bloodstream that causes damage to cells all around the body as blood circulates. Alcohol can kill liver cells and lead to scarring of the liver and a condition known as cirrhosis. Long-term heavy drinking can also cause fatty liver disease, leaving the liver to function at a fraction of its full capacity. This can lead to many different serious complications throughout the whole body.

Heart Disease

Alcohol consumption can cause many different issues with the heart and circulatory system, such as high blood pressure. Studies of long-term heavy drinkers have shown they are more likely to develop cardiovascular issues and are at an increased risk of dying from heart disease.

Brain and Nervous System Issues

Drinking alcohol has damaging effects on the neural pathways of the brain. This is the cause of impaired motor control, slurred speech, and memory problems associated with heavy drinking. Heavy drinking has also been linked to an increased risk of seizures.

Cancer

Drinking alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. Because alcohol causes damage to any cells it comes into contact with, habitual heavy drinking can lead to an increased risk of throat, mouth, esophageal, and liver cancers.

Other possible health issues that can stem from long-term heavy drinking include anemia, infection, gout, digestive issues, and sleep abnormalities.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) at ARS Can Help You Overcome Drinking

Whether you’re beginning or continuing your recovery, the intensive outpatient program (IOP) here at Addiction Recovery Services (ARS) can help guide you. Trying to understand all of the definitions for which program does what can be a difficult task. Recovery is already complex and scary, so getting started with it shouldn’t be.

Our goal here is to always have the resources someone needs to steer their life in the direction they know it should be going. So much of the struggle with addiction is also a struggle with control. IOP at ARS is set up to help everyone involved gain control again.

When you enroll for treatment at ARS, we want you to be prepared for what comes next. There may be some bumps in the road, but we know long-term recovery includes preparing for how those moments are handled.

Choosing outpatient rehab can be the first step someone takes toward recovery, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s just as viable as a next step for someone who has completed an inpatient rehab program already.

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Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Alcohol Use Disorder

Here at Addiction Recovery Services of New Hampshire, we’re proud to support medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as part of our wide range of services. MAT is the use of certain medications, in combination with behavioral therapies and counseling, to treat substance use disorders with an intensive approach that treats the whole person, not just their addiction.

The medications used in MAT at Addiction Recovery Services are effective in curbing the initial uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. By making the symptoms of withdrawal a non-issue, people are able to start addressing the potential root causes of their addiction without being distracted by cravings or discomfort.

Many arguments against the use of MAT in treating substance use disorder say these types of programs are simply substituting one addiction for another. This common false belief comes from a lack of understanding of the medications used in MAT, what they do, and what the goal of MAT actually is.

In reality, these medications are designed to relieve physical and mental withdrawal symptoms and sometimes curb any drug cravings as a person learns how to sustain long-term recovery. By managing these negative feelings, medical professionals are able to identify and address any underlying causes of addiction or mental health disorders.

The specific medications used in MAT for alcohol addiction (with their brand names in parentheses) include:

  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol and ReVia)
  • Acamprosate (Campral)
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)

Reclaim Your Health at ARS

Our mission is to never make you feel like a failure, no matter if that’s when you enter or when you are enrolled in IOP. It’s hard to begin, and it can be hard to maintain long-term recovery. We focus on harm reduction rather than complete abstinence because we believe it’s been shown to help people recover effectively.

If you or someone you know is ready to begin recovery, let us know. ARS has many pathways to recovery, each defined by, and chosen based on, what the person in recovery needs. Give us a call at (978) 228-5853 and let’s see about starting you on the way to recovery.

FAQs:

Can your body repair itself from alcohol misuse?

In a majority of cases, the body can begin to heal from the damage done by drinking within just a few weeks after detox. The liver is very resilient and can regenerate itself. That said, many years of heavy drinking may leave the liver scarred and unable to fully heal itself to full operating capacity.

What is the most successful way to stop drinking?

The approach with the highest rate of recovery success is seeking professional treatment from a licensed addiction healthcare facility. Attempting to detox from drinking on your own can be extremely dangerous and even deadly in some cases.

What treatment options are available for someone who has a drinking problem?

There are many different inpatient and outpatient treatment options that can help a person overcome alcohol use disorder. The most successful options provide a full range of services, from alcohol detox to continued support in aftercare.

Where to find help - Local Resources

by John Iudice, ARSNH | Fosters

Evidence-based group therapy, family education
and medication management with a unique focus
on the mental health symptoms accompanying addiction.

Contact ARS

To schedule an admission interview with the intake counselors at Addiction Recovery Services, or if you have questions, feel free to call or text us at (978) 228-5853. We can also be reached via email at admissions@arsnh.com.

If you are looking to speak to someone regarding absences or tardiness to an IOP session, please call the office lines directly.

Addiction Recovery Services

Intake & Admissions:  (978) 228-5853
Office Phone: (603) 433-6250
Fax: (603) 433-6350

 

Telehealth support services are available throughout New Hampshire for those who are unable to physically make it to our in-person IOP. Please inquire for more information on remote support options. 

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