According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 14.1 million adults from age 18 and above had alcohol use disorder or AUD in 2019. With alcohol consumption increasing following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, experts fear a rise in AUD cases as people turn to alcohol in order to cope with the pandemic.
In fact, the American Heart Association, citing a report by Nielsen, has noted a spike in alcohol sales in March last year. It adds that excessive drinking can compromise the immune system and disrupts rational thinking amid the need to stay healthy and follow health protocols.
There is no question that, much like other addictions, AUD is a psychological disorder that results in physical, emotional and social distress. What is certain is that AUD can be treated so long as the person suffering from it has access to available treatment options.
What does the path to recovery look like for AUD patients?
There are a number of drugs that doctors can prescribe for people with AUD. Acamprosate , for one, is known to help treat alcohol dependence by restoring the balance of chemicals in the nervous system. It goes well with regular counseling and helps patients maintain abstinence. However, the side effects of using this drug includes mood swings, allergic reactions, and palpitations.
In some cases, a doctor may prescribe disulfiram to help support other intervention methods. The drug enhances the patient’s sensitivity to alcohol. In other words, the patient develops an aversion to alcohol. The side effects of this drug include skin rashes, tiredness and headaches.
There are other drugs that can help you recover from AUD, but it’s always important to consult with an addiction specialist and find out which ones are safe for you to take.
Social and psychological interventions
Prescription drugs are not enough to help an individual overcome AUD. If anything, drugs are supplements to a more extensive recovery program, a great deal of which includes interventions by counselors and loved ones.
This should start with addressing affective factors. In this case, the patient should open up about the problem to friends and family members. With the help of a counselor, the patient can determine the effects of AUD to people within their inner social circle. Support from relatives and close friends can encourage the patient as well as mend broken relationships.
From there, the patient can progress towards more advanced forms of AUD interventions. CBT sessions, for one, can help with developing impulse control and enable the individual to find alternative means to cope with stress.
Brief interventions are also effective when it comes to helping patients identify situations that trigger a craving for alcohol and allow them to deal with such situations without the need to drink. Joining small groups is also encouraged since these can help patients accept their problem with alcohol and function as accountability partners to each other.
At MidCities Psychiatry, we know exactly the amount of care and attention that goes into treating alcohol abuse and dependence. These problems require a mix of personalized interventions and methods that leverage new technology.
Let this be the year you or someone you dearly love find hope beyond a bottle of beer. Give us a call today.