Outpatient Medication- Assisted Treatment For Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol use disorder is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the United States, and a leading cause of sickness and death in the country. In the US, alcohol use disorders and binge drinking have increased in recent years. Unfortunately, only 19.8 percent of adults with lifetime alcohol use disorder ever seek treatment or ask for help. Many people believe that their “problem” with alcohol may not be enough to warrant treatment, therefore continue to remain untreated and often leading to worse problems in the future.
Am I An Alcoholic?
The definition of Alcohol Use Disorder, as established by the American Psychiatric Association, was recently published in the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (for short, DSM-5). The definition uses eleven criteria to establish the presence of Alcohol Use Disorder. If two or more of these criteria are present, a person is considered to have at least mild Alcohol Use Disorder.
The Eleven Criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder Are:
- Alcohol is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
- There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control alcohol use.
- A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain alcohol, use alcohol, or recover from its effects.
- Craving, or a strong desire or urge to use alcohol.
- Recurrent alcohol use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
- Continued alcohol use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of alcohol.
- Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are given up or reduced because of alcohol use.
- Recurrent alcohol use in situations in which it is physically hazardous, i.e. driving or working near machinery.
- Alcohol use is continued despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by alcohol.
- Tolerance, as defined by either of the following: a) A need for markedly increased amounts of alcohol to achieve intoxication or desired effect, or b) A markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of alcohol.
- Withdrawal, as manifested by either of the following: a) The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for alcohol, or b) Alcohol (or a closely related substance, such as a benzodiazepine) is taken to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
If you meet at least 2 of these criteria, you may have a problem with alcohol, and getting the appropriate treatment is absolutely warranted.
For years the term “Alcoholism” or “Alcoholic” has been used to describe the disease state or the individual associated with excessive alcohol use. However, recent research and treatment models have suggested that alcohol abuse is not as “black and white” as being an alcoholic or not being an alcoholic. In other words, modification of alcohol use (as opposed to complete alcohol abstinence) is a viable therapeutic approach for individuals who abuse alcohol. Using certain medications while actively drinking help to gradually decrease alcohol consumption and overall desire to continue drinking by blocking the euphoria that alcohol provides.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder
We provide many different treatment options and alternative approaches for the treatment of AUD. Because we understand that each person seeking treatment is different from the next, all treatment plans are individualized to fit specific needs and goals, with the use of medications, counseling, mental health services, and self-help tools. Contrary to popular belief, abstinence from alcohol is not required for some to recover from alcohol addiction.
The Sinclair Method (TSM)
The Sinclair Method (TSM) is a clinically studied, proven effective treatment for alcohol addiction that uses a technique called pharmacological extinction to retrain your brain to not enjoy alcohol by blocking the euphoria that alcohol provides while you are actively drinking. Over time, this effect gradually reduces your alcohol consumption, stops the urge to continue drinking once started, and results in increased alcohol free days. Abstinence is not required while following TSM. With 100% compliance to program protocols, 80% of people can expect to reach extinction around 3-4 months. Alcohol + Pill = Cure
Vivitrol is a non-addictive, once-monthly injection (extended release naltrexone) proven to help reduce heavy drinking days in alcohol-dependent patients. Patient’s who are on Vivitrol report they “just have no desire to drink.” Vivitrol, along with chemical dependency counseling, helps stop the addictive behaviors while reinforcing recovery for one month at a time while you work on the psychological aspects of addiction through counseling, support meetings and self help.
Psychiatry & Mental Health
Because dependence and addiction often stem from untreated mental health disorders, ensuring a proper diagnosis and treatment of certain mental health conditions is important for long term recovery. If you have certain conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD that cause you to want to drink, or exacerbate your drinking, it is important to identify and treat from the beginning for the best possible outcomes.
Chemical Dependency Counseling
Chemical dependency counseling is a different type of therapy. It addresses the ways in which drugs and alcohol affect people on personal and physical levels and in their relationships with others. In a MAT program for alcohol dependence, therapy can just as important as the medication itself; the medication will help take cravings away while allowing you the opportunity to heal from the past. You’ll also learn positive coping mechanisms to avoid relapse in the future. We have a chemical dependency counselor on staff who is available for consultation during your appointments. You can also set up additional sessions with the counselor if you choose.
12 Step Meetings (AA) are about self-help and support. They don’t convince you that a certain pill or diet will take care of your addiction issues. They introduce you to principles that will help you to prioritize your recovery every day, all on your own. Twelve-step meetings are a great complement to MAT programs, however not recommended for all. Twelve-step meetings give you a place to vent since you can no longer find stress relief through drugs and alcohol. Meetings can help you make new friends and meet new people who are also living without abusing any illicit substances.
Recovery, right here.
North Dayton Addiction and Recovery Services offers everything one needs to recover from alcohol use disorder. Our program is private, comfortable and confidential, and we offer outpatient treatment with telemedicine services available. If you feel as though you would benefit from reducing your alcohol consumption, or want to become abstinent from alcohol, give us a call to learn about our treatment options and what is right for you. Please check out our blog section for more specific dialogue on our non-traditional treatment approaches that offer an alternative to inpatient detox, abstinence & AA.