Of the over 16 million people in the country who have a potential AUD, 9.8 million men and 5.3 million women respectively have a diagnosable AUD. About 10 percent of children in the US have at least one parent who struggles with problem drinking, and about 31 percent of driving fatalities in the US involve a drunk driver. Unfortunately, very few people every year seek treatment for AUD despite physical, mental, social, financial, and legal ramifications.
Herbal treatments include milk thistle (Silybum marianum), which is thought to protect the liver against damage. Other herbs are thought to be helpful for the patient suffering through withdrawal. Some of these include lavender (Lavandula officinalis), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), peppermint (Mentha piperita) yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and valerian (Valeriana officinalis).
Rational Recovery (RR). This secular, non-12-step recovery program mainly utilizes Addictive Voice Recognition Techniques. The techniques enable individuals to identify and manage the "Addictive Voice"—which is defined as any thought or feeling that supports the continued use of drugs and alcohol. The program encourages individuals to make a commitment to abstinence. Unlike other addiction recovery programs, attendance of RR support groups is not considered necessary once an individual has learned the techniques.
For some individuals whose circumstances or conditions don't require a full-time, residential recovery process, outpatient recovery may be a viable recovery option. In an outpatient recovery program, individuals undergo addiction rehabilitation while living at their own homes. They are able to schedule regular check-ins at a clinic or treatment center for medication and counseling on a regular basis.
AA's program extends beyond abstaining from alcohol. Its goal is to effect enough change in the alcoholic's thinking "to bring about recovery from alcoholism" through "an entire psychic change," or spiritual awakening. A spiritual awakening is meant to be achieved by taking the Twelve Steps, and sobriety is furthered by volunteering for AA and regular AA meeting attendance or contact with AA members. Members are encouraged to find an experienced fellow alcoholic, called a sponsor, to help them understand and follow the AA program. The sponsor should preferably have experience of all twelve of the steps, be the same sex as the sponsored person, and refrain from imposing personal views on the sponsored person. Following the helper therapy principle, sponsors in AA may benefit from their relationship with their charges, as "helping behaviors" correlate with increased abstinence and lower probabilities of binge drinking.
Some people don’t like or are not interested in the 12-Step model, even with the variations above or through organizations that facilitate the 12-Step model. Some people don’t like basing their recovery on the idea that they cannot control their addiction, when there is evidence that there are ways of practicing internal control over the recovery process.
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Elevated homocysteine levels in the blood called hyperhomocysteinemia, is a sign that the body isn't producing enough of the amino acid homocysteine. is a rare and serious condition that may be inherited (genetic). People with homocystinuria die at an early age. Symptoms of hyperhomocysteinemia include developmental delays, osteoporosis, blood clots, heart attack, heart disease, stroke, and visual abnormalities.
Medications also are available that may help a recovering alcoholic avoid returning to drinking. These have been used with variable success; different medications may be more or less successful for different individuals. Disulfiram (Antabuse) is a drug which, when mixed with alcohol, causes unpleasant reactions including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and trembling. It was estimated that in 2008, 200,000 recovering alcoholics in the United States were taking disulfiram. Naltrexone (Depade, ReVia) helps to reduce the brain's craving for alcohol. Acamprosate (Campral) works by reducing anxiety and insomnia that often occur when habitual drinkers become abstinent. Drugs alone will not prevent relapse. They are most effective when used in conjunction with a self-help program and/or psychotherapy aimed at changing behavior.
Auxiliary groups such as Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, for friends and family members of alcoholics and addicts, respectively, are part of a response to treating addiction as a disease that is enabled by family systems. Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA or ACOA) addresses the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family. Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) addresses compulsions related to relationships, referred to as codependency.