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The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for 2015 found that 86.4 percent of the population ages 18 and older consumed alcohol at some point in their lives; about 56 percent reported that they drank in the past month, indicating a pattern of regular alcohol consumption. Alcohol is legal in the US for people ages 21 and older to consume, but as an intoxicating substance, it is dangerous and can lead to addiction. The NSDUH also found that 26.9 percent of the population engaged in binge drinking in the past month (more than four drinks within two hours), and 7 percent reported that they drank heavily in the past month (more than two drinks per day). These behaviors indicate higher risk for AUD.
Abstinence-based recovery, as the name suggests, focuses on complete abstinence from drug use, thereby breaking the cycle of addiction and dependency. To achieve remission from the disease of addiction, complete withdrawal of all mind-altering substances, including alcohol, is required. Abstinence-based recovery teaches us how to live a life of freedom that no longer requires us to turn to mood or mind-altering substances in order to help change the way we feel. The 12-Steps are an abstinence-based program that offers a lifeline of support to anyone hoping to recover from addiction.
Relapse can be avoided by getting sufficient aftercare. Oftentimes, aftercare involves a peer support group, ongoing therapy, and even a maintenance medication like naltrexone, which reduces or eliminates cravings. Support from family and friends is also a very important part of sustained recovery, so finding a supportive home environment – through a sober home, moving to a new house, or clearing drugs and alcohol out of one’s existing home – is very important. Working with an evidence-based treatment program can help one gather resources about nearby or online support groups and therapists.

I agree with Jann B.'s earlier comments that the resistance of some AA members to pharmacological assistance has helped to create the divide between 12 Step recovery and academic addiction medicine. In fact, resistance by active alcoholics to psychological assisstance - mostly by withholding the true nature of their addiction -  was addressed in AA's original publication in 1939 of the text Alcoholilcs Anonymous. It acknowledged that the alcoholic him/herself was in part responsible for the skepticism many professionals felt when treating alcoholics. However, AA literature also is quite clear (in the text and via subsequent pamphlets) about the importance of seeking outside help and being open-minded to the advice of a helping professional.

That said, I believe the divide between 12 Step recovery and academic addiction medicine is largely a result of AA's non-scientific approach. The nature of addiction and subsequent recovery through 12 Step work is not easily measurable or definable. Academia can measure length of sobriety and certain facts, but is not able to tell us why this occurs...at least not in a quantitative way.  As a result, tends to avoid embracing 12 Step recovery because they cannot define it measurable scientific methods.

Fortunately to the suffering alchoholic who desires escape from the hell of alchoholism, 12 Step recovery doesn't necessitate understanding the process, it requires doing the process.

The transformation to permanent sobriety results from taking action, not from taking thought. Study and debate it all you want, but his pragmatic approach continues to save lives, as it did mine, 31 years ago.

Jump up ^ Alcoholics Anonymous (2001-06-01). "Chapter 2: There Is a Solution". Alcoholics Anonymous (PDF) (4th ed.). Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. p. 21. ISBN 1893007162. OCLC 32014950. These observations would be academic and pointless if [he] never took the first drink, thereby setting the terrible cycle in motion. Therefore, the main problem...centers in his mind....The fact is that most alcoholics...have lost the power of choice in drink...unable, at certain times, to bring into [his] consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of a month or even a week ago. [He] is without defense against the first drink.
AA is a faith-based program where, in order to succeed in their recovery and progress through the 12 steps, members are instructed to admit their lack of control over both alcohol and their own lives and turn themselves over to a higher power. While the foundations of AA are based in Christianity, the 12-Step program is meant to be nonspecific regarding religion and focus more on a spiritual awakening.
An alcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe. Mild patterns may develop into more serious complications. Early treatment and intervention can help people with alcohol use disorder. While it’s up to the person to willingly start their sobriety journey, you can also help. Read on for some steps you can take to help your friend, family member, or loved one.
Recovery from alcoholism is a life-long process. The potential for relapse remains present and must be acknowledged and respected. Many individuals stop drinking and then relapse multiple times before attaining extended periods of sobriety. Statistics suggest that, among middle-class alcohol-dependent individuals in stable financial and family situations who have undergone treatment, 60% or more successfully stop drinking for at least one year.

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According to information derived from the United States National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Study released in 2006, about 8% of American adults are dependent on alcohol (estimates range from 5-10%). About 34% of adult Americans do not use alcohol at all. Another 44% are occasional or non-dependent users. Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States (smoking and obesity rank first and second) and is responsible for about 85,000 deaths annually, about half from injury and half from disease. Alcoholism is involved in about 30% of homicides and 22% of suicides. It is the cause of about 20% of fatal motor vehicle accidents and is a contributing factor in between one-third and one-half of all vehicular accidents. Alcoholism costs the United States about $185 billion annually in costs related to violence, traffic accidents, lost work productivity, and direct medical expenses. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that at least 6.6 million children under age 18 live in households with at least one alcoholic parent and that before age 18 about 25% of children are exposed to family alcohol dependency or alcohol abuse.


After the individual is no longer drinking and has passed through withdrawal, the next steps involve helping the individual avoid relapsing and a return to drinking. This phase of treatment is referred to as rehabilitation. It can continue for a lifetime. Many programs incorporate the family into rehabilitation therapy, because the family has likely been severely affected by the patient's drinking. Some therapists believe that family members, in an effort to deal with their loved one's drinking problem, develop patterns of behavior that unintentionally support or enable the patient's drinking. This situation is referred to as co-dependence. These patterns should addressed in order to help successfully treat a person's alcoholism.
Just as there is no one test for screening or diagnosing alcoholism, there is not one single therapy or medication that definitively treats alcoholism in all those affected. Like many chronic diseases, alcohol dependence is not an easy condition to resolve, and many people will relapse into drinking several times before gaining lasting sobriety. Some of the damage done to the liver and to other organs while drinking may resolve, while some may be permanent. Patients and their doctors will need to work together over the years to maintain sobriety and to address any complications that arise from alcohol damage.
Detoxification begins 4–6 hours after the last consumption of alcohol and lasts for 5–7 days. In this period, diazepam is administered every six hours to control the detoxification process and withdrawal symptoms. While detoxification often occurs in hospitals, some people undergo detoxification in their homes. However, patients should not consider undergoing detoxification at home if they have suicidal feelings, do not have friends and family to support them, or have experienced severe withdrawal symptoms before.
Alcohol affects virtually every organ system in the body and, in high doses, can cause coma and death. It affects several neurotransmitter systems in the brain, including opiates, GABA, glutamate, serotonin, and dopamine. Increased opiate levels help explain the euphoric effect of alcohol, while its effects on GABA cause anxiolytic and sedative effects.
In 1955, Wilson acknowledged AA's debt, saying "The Oxford Groupers had clearly shown us what to do. And just as importantly, we learned from them what not to do." Among the Oxford Group practices that AA retained were informal gatherings, a "changed-life" developed through "stages", and working with others for no material gain, AA's analogs for these are meetings, "the steps", and sponsorship. AA's tradition of anonymity was a reaction to the publicity-seeking practices of the Oxford Group, as well as AA's wish to not promote, Wilson said, "erratic public characters who through broken anonymity might get drunk and destroy confidence in us."[20]

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More informally than not, AA's membership has helped popularize the disease concept of alcoholism, though AA officially has had no part in the development of such postulates which had appeared as early as the late eighteenth century.[58] Though AA initially avoided the term "disease", in 1973 conference-approved literature categorically stated that "we had the disease of alcoholism."[59][better source needed] Regardless of official positions, from AA's inception most members have believed alcoholism to be a disease.[60]
Jump up ^ "HEALTH AND ETHICS POLICIES OF THE AMA HOUSE OF DELEGATES" (PDF). June 2008. p. 33. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 10 May 2015. H-30.997 Dual Disease Classification of Alcoholism: The AMA reaffirms its policy endorsing the dual classification of alcoholism under both the psychiatric and medical sections of the International Classification of Diseases. (Res. 22, I-79; Reaffirmed: CLRPD Rep. B, I-89; Reaffirmed: CLRPD Rep. B, I-90; Reaffirmed by CSA Rep. 14, A-97; Reaffirmed: CSAPH Rep. 3, A-07)
The mental obsession is described as the cognitive processes that causes the individual to repeat the compulsive behavior after some period of abstinence, either knowing that the result will be an inability to stop or operating under the delusion that the result will be different. The description in the First Step of the life of the alcoholic or addict as "unmanageable" refers to the lack of choice that the mind of the addict or alcoholic affords concerning whether to drink or use again.[20]
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