No laboratory tests exist that can screen for alcoholism with a high level of accuracy. Most alcoholism is diagnosed through patient and family history. However, alcoholism can be difficult to diagnose until late-stage physical symptoms become apparent because alcohol-dependent people often lie or about underestimate their alcohol use. In addition, many physicians do not routinely screen their patients using standardized questionnaires that may reveal alcohol problems.
If you are in need of immediate assistance, please call a counselor for immediate help 800-839-1686. Alcohol and Drug Rehab Counselors specializing in alcohol addiction drug treatment and substance abuse issues are standing by ready to listen and address any questions or concerns that you may have. Alcoholics Resource Center is supported by caring individuals with a genuine desire to help you achieve sobriety. Alcoholics Resource Center guides individuals struggling with alcohol addiction to AA meetings and recovery that helps prevent painful relapse. We offer many resources that can help individuals identify problematic behavioral patterns and help establish the best approach to fully overcome the challenging obstacles of alcohol addiction.
There is a group of physicians within ASAM who are concerned that twelve-step recovery is not being taught to new physicians entering this field (most physicians currently enter addiction practice in mid-career, rather than straight out of residency training). Referring to themselves as “Like Minded Docs,” they communicate regularly among each other, leaning on each other via email for support and guidance, and occasionally reaching out to ASAM regarding policies of the Society. One of their stated concerns is that continuing education programs for physicians newly involved with addiction or considering a mid-career switch into addiction medicine have more content on pharmacotherapies and less content on psychosocial therapies, and that Twelve-Step Facilitation therapy and twelve-step recovery overall are at risk of becoming ‘dying arts.’
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Twelve-step programs approach alcoholism and drug addiction as diseases that can only be managed by surrendering one’s will to a higher power. In spite of their reliance on the disease model of addiction, 12-step groups offer rewarding experiences that reinforce healthy, sober behaviors. In this sense, the 12 steps reflect the principles of positive psychology, notes the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Positive psychology is based on the belief that gratifying experiences will encourage the individual to repeat a healthy behavior, such as attending meetings or reading AA literature, rather than reverting to a self-destructive behavior, such as drinking or using drugs.
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Although all forms of problem drinking are getting worse in the US, not everyone who drinks too much meets the criteria for AUD. The CDC found, in 2014, that 90 percent of those who drink too much alcohol, even frequently, are not physically dependent on the substance to feel normal. Although one in three adults drink to excess, meeting the criteria for heavy or binge drinking, nine out of 10 do not meet the criteria for AUD from the DSM-5.
As dependence increases, individuals are more likely to experience health and social consequences. The consumption of alcohol in moderation has health benefits for some (e.g. it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in older people). On the other hand, excessive alcohol consumption, especially when it is caused by alcohol dependence, is associated with an increased risk of numerous health problems. These include:
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Many people use alcohol as a de-stressor. While some beer may be a temporarily relief from the stress of the day, ultimately alcohol is stressing you out even more. Research shows that long-term drinking can increase perceived stress in the brain. For example, a stressful situation would be handled worse by an alcoholic than by a non-alcoholic. Many other factors play into how we handle such situations, but without a doubt drinking alcohol will not help.
Although the concept of an intervention is pervasive in popular culture – even leading to the development of a reality television show – there are types of interventions that are more helpful than suddenly accusing a loved one of struggling with addiction. Family and friends may create an intervention – which requires a plan, including specific requirements and consequences – or a therapist, doctor, or other healthcare professional may conduct an intervention. Often, these are brief interventions, which occur after a person has been hospitalized due to side effects from drinking too much or after a person is diagnosed with a chronic illness due to problem drinking.
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.
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Alcohol dependence is a legitimate health problem. Health professionals can provide advice, support and in some cases medication to help reduce alcohol dependence. You may feel embarrassed talking to a doctor about drinking too much, but remember that doctors and other health workers are there to help fix health problems, not to judge or berate their patients. A good doctor will encourage their patients to drink in moderation or perhaps abstain for periods of time, not make their patients feel guilty or bad for drinking drink too much alcohol.
Twelve-step methods have been adapted to address a wide range of alcoholism, substance-abuse and dependency problems. Over 200 self-help organizations—often known as fellowships—with a worldwide membership of millions—now employ twelve-step principles for recovery. Narcotics Anonymous was formed by addicts who did not relate to the specifics of alcohol dependency.