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Considering Alcohol Rehab?

Posted in Alcoholism Treatment

If life has become just too dreary, stuck as you may be in an endless cycle of non-stop partying, ending up hung over and without memory of the night before, you may have reached the end of drinking road. If this rings true, you may wish to ask yourself if it’s time for you to be considering alcohol rehab.

Of course, if you’ve never totally dried out before, you probably have no idea or only a vague notion of what alcohol rehab is and how it works. While it is easier to think about getting sober in the abstract, when it comes right down to overcoming a problem with alcohol, the actual doing is a lot harder. It’s harder, but not impossible. In fact, millions have done it before you. Some are in alcohol rehab right now, while others are working their recovery programs following completion of a stint in alcohol rehab.

So what’s the big mystery? Here’s some insight into what alcohol rehab is and how it can benefit you.

We’ll start with the benefits.

Benefits of Alcohol Rehab

Giving up alcohol is a big commitment. But by doing so, and going through alcohol rehab, you have a life of wide-open options available to you. Here is a list of just some of the benefits of going through alcohol rehab:

• Alcohol rehab, once completed, is a major accomplishment and one of which you can be justifiably proud.

• You’re able to come back from the depths of despair – a miracle to many long-term alcoholics as well as those newly addicted to booze.

• You have 24-hour medical supervision while you go through detoxification that’s required prior to beginning active treatment.

• You’re never alone to go through treatment as you’re surrounded by caring professionals every step of the way.

• Treatment for alcohol abuse or alcoholism helps you learn how to identify and recognize the triggers that you associate with past alcohol use – and learn how to develop coping strategies for dealing with them.

• You’re able to put your life into perspective, begin to develop short- and long-term goals, perhaps for the first time in many months or years.

• You’re able to start fresh. Having a clean slate is important to gearing up for your new life in sobriety.

• You learn a sense of personal responsibility for your actions. While you can’t change the past, you’re no longer mired in it. You learn to live according to values that you feel are important, and you act in a manner that is responsible.

• Trust is critical to the newly sober individual. Through working with your counselor in treatment, you learn to trust another human being and how to be trustworthy in all your actions with others.

• Deep-seated emotional pain and traumatic memories can be worked on and overcome through specialized treatment modalities. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), physical and/or sexual abuse, violence, war and other trauma can be helped by a technique known as EMDR, eye movement desensitization reprocessing.

• Co-occurring mental health disorder and alcohol abuse – so-called dual-diagnosis – can be helped through comprehensive, integrated and simultaneous treatment at specialized treatment facilities.

• Introduction to the 12-step fellowship group approach and meeting participation begins in most alcohol rehab facilities. The 12-step group support network is crucial to your ongoing recovery. Getting accustomed to the meeting philosophy and how the fellowship works while you are in treatment gives you a leg-up on what you’ll need to do following completion of treatment.

• While you’re in treatment, you’re never judged or condemned for your addiction to alcohol – or for anything you’ve done in your past. It’s all about healing you and helping you reach your goal of sobriety.

• Family treatment is available in most alcohol rehab facilities to help other members of the family learn about the disease of alcohol addiction and how to better support your recovery efforts.

• Whether you go to alcohol rehab for the first time or multiple times, there’s always the opportunity to learn more and solidify your recovery toolkit to ensure that you’re able to maintain long-term sobriety. In essence, you get what you put into it. If you’re sincere and committed to overcoming your problem with alcohol, treatment is your best option for getting started on the road to recovery.

What Is Alcohol Rehab?

Having witnessed a string of Hollywood celebrities in their revolving-door drug and alcohol rehab stints, it’s easy to form a belief about alcohol rehab that’s both distorted and negative. The truth is that alcohol rehab isn’t a guarantee. Just because an individual walks through the doors to a treatment facility doesn’t mean that he or she will come out 30 days (or longer) later clean and sober and ready to rejoin society.

Many don’t make it past detoxification.

Why is that? Some people believe that all they need to do to get sober is to “dry out.” That’s the term used to refer to getting all of the alcohol out of their system in a safe and medically supervised setting. Going “cold turkey” to quit alcohol is both dangerous and foolhardy. It’s also very uncomfortable, with withdrawal symptoms that can range from mild to moderate to severe and life-threatening. You’ve heard of the cold shakes, but there’s also anxiety or nervousness, depression, fatigue, irritability and excitability, jumpiness, nightmares, difficulty thinking clearly, and rapid emotional changes. Other mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms include enlarged pupils, headache, insomnia, pale skin, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, rapid heart rate, sweating and tremor of the hands or other parts of the body.

Severe to life-threatening alcohol withdrawal symptoms include extreme agitation, fever, seizures, and delirium tremens (also called DTs), a state of severe confusion and visual hallucinations.

Since you never know in advance how severe your alcohol withdrawal symptoms will be when you suddenly quit drinking, only detoxification in a safe and medically supervised setting offers you the kind of security you need to begin alcohol rehab. Symptoms will usually begin to appear within 5 to 10 hours of the last drink and peak in 48 to 72 hours. Some of these withdrawal symptoms may persist for several weeks.

Another benefit of medically-supervised detoxification provided in alcohol rehab is the availability of prescription medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms and eliminate or significantly reduce cravings.

Following detox, the patient in alcohol rehab begins what is referred to as the active treatment phase. There are short-term alcohol rehab programs, lasting 30 days or less. There are also long-term alcohol rehab programs, which last more than 30 days. Some alcohol rehab facilities have sober living homes as transition for patients following treatment so that these individuals can gradually re-assimilate back into society better equipped to maintain long-term recovery.

Succinctly put, alcohol rehab is a program that’s tailored for each patient according to his or her needs with the ultimate goal of a) getting detoxed, b) helping the patient learn about the disease of addiction, c) learn coping strategies and techniques, d) work on any co-occurring mental health disorders (if applicable), e) introduce the 12-step support concept and begin participation, and f) work on a recovery plan.

Success Rate for Alcohol Rehab

Let’s put it this way: The only hope for individuals going to alcohol rehab to have successful or effective treatment is if they fully commit to the program and complete the program. As stated previously, just going to an alcohol treatment program isn’t an automatic guarantee of staying sober long-term. Treatment is just the beginning of the journey to recovery.

And recovery is a lifelong journey. It isn’t something that you achieve and that’s it, you don’t have to work it anymore. In fact, if you fail to work your recovery each and every day following treatment, you’ll join the ranks of those who’ve quickly fallen into relapse.

Statistically speaking, up to 90 percent of people who try to quit drinking have at least one relapse before they achieve long-term sobriety. Other statistics say that one in 10 individuals stay sober for a year. In some Alcoholics Anonymous groups, anectdotal evidence indicates that only 10 percent remain sober in the first five to six months. Recovery experts caution that the first 90 days of recovery are the most vulnerable to relapse, and relapse is quite common – but not inevitable. A relapse, however, isn’t a sign of failure. It just means that a person hasn’t learned how to manage or cope with the stresses, triggers and urges to drink and may need more treatment.

Why begin alcohol rehab if the success rate isn’t higher? The reality is that people learn how to manage the disease of alcoholism or to overcome their addiction in their own way and in their own time. How well you incorporate the coping mechanisms and strategies may mean the difference between no slips or relapses and several. The good news is that most people who relapse quickly get back into the program (Alcoholics Anonymous), renew their work on the steps, and/or go back into treatment or get additional counseling.

If the goal is to live your life in sobriety, to give up drinking and have a chance at all the things you’ve long closed yourself off to, taking the challenge and doing the work is reason enough to go through alcohol rehab.

Treatment Is The First Step

Just as it’s not enough to go through detox, it’s also not enough to go through treatment and expect to be “cured.” First of all, there is no cure for alcoholism – not yet, anyway. While scientists are hard at work to develop various vaccines and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is funding research into a number of medications that may help curb or eliminate cravings, urges and/or stop the effects of alcohol abuse, there’s much work to be done before any of them reach and receive Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

The upshot is that treatment is the first step on your road to recovery. You need to backstop treatment with ongoing participation in some kind of support network. As already mentioned, for many in recovery, this is a 12-step fellowship such as Alcoholics Anonymous ( or A.A. Note that the family-related group is Al-Anon and Alateen for younger family members.

If you are considering alcohol rehab and it may take some time to line up your finances, get clearance from your private health insurance to enroll in the treatment program, or make arrangements for a leave from work or school, you can begin to research 12-step groups in your area and go to a few meetings. At least check them out online. There is a wealth of information, brochures, FAQs, books and links to other research sites to help you as you begin to prepare for a life of sobriety.

There are also 12-step groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous chapters, in every major metropolitan city in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as many foreign countries. There are, of course, the in-person meetings, but there are also online and telephone meetings if you can’t make it to a local one. So, you always have access to a support network.

The only requirement to be in Alcoholics Anonymous is a sincere commitment to sobriety. There are no dues and no fees for A.A. membership. The fellowship is self-supporting through contributions. A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution. It does not endorse any causes or engage in any controversy. Its stated primary purpose is “to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.”

The other critical support network you need is right at home: your own family. If you are fortunate to have a spouse or partner or parents who will be supportive and encourage your recovery efforts, talk with them about your goal and plans to get and stay sober. If you’ve tried before and failed, be prepared for a little skepticism. But if you are truly committed to overcoming a problem with alcohol, they will more than likely come around. Ask for their help. Be sincere in your intent and follow through with your stated desire to get help for your problem.

If you are still considering alcohol rehab, remember this. You only achieve sobriety by doing, not thinking. It’s time to leave your dependence on alcohol behind and begin the process of learning how to live your life in recovery. Check out available alcohol rehab programs in your area. Go to the Treatment Facility Locator ( maintained by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or call their toll-free referral helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. The locator lists more than 11,000 alcohol and drug treatment facilities in the U.S. that are certified, licensed, and otherwise approved to provide treatment by state substance abuse agencies. If finances are a problem and/or you either don’t have private health insurance or the policy you do have won’t cover alcohol rehab, use the locator’s detailed search or list search options and check the boxes “sliding fee scale” and “payment assistance” and then call the alcohol rehab facilities to find out about their policies.

There is one final thought that’s worth mentioning. There is no downside to getting help for a problem with alcohol. Forget about putting it off until tomorrow. You can begin your research today. What are you waiting for?