Around a third of individuals with alcohol dependence resolve their alcohol consumption problems without professional intervention. Others need the support of a health professional who can recommend a range of treatments. While there are many effective treatments, people who overcome alcohol dependence often relapse (i.e. develop alcohol dependency once again).
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A long-term study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that, after eight years, people with alcoholism who were part of both inpatient treatment and an AA group had a better chance of staying sober for the first three years of study. By the end of the eight years, those who received both had a much higher rate of abstinence. The researchers at NIAAA concluded that regular attendance at AA meetings had a notable impact on the viability and longevity of recovery.
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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Babies who are born to mothers who are heavy drinkers are more at risk for being born with significant medical, developmental, behavioral, and emotional problems, including fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). However, many babies whose mothers consumed even minimal amounts of alcohol during pregnancy have been born with such problems. Therefore, there is no amount of alcohol intake that has been proven to be safe during pregnancy.
Research from NIAAA also suggests that alcoholism can stem from genes. While the specific “alcoholism gene” hasn’t yet been identified, there are known genes that can boost the power of alcohol and reduce the impact of a hangover. People with these gene combinations may get a bigger high from drinking, and they may not feel ill or sick after a long day of drinking. Their bodies just seem primed for alcohol abuse, and that can make them more likely to develop alcoholism.
Jump up ^ Ståhlbrandt, Henriettæ; Johnsson, Kent O.; Berglund, Mats (2007). "Two-Year Outcome of Alcohol Interventions in Swedish University Halls of Residence: A Cluster Randomized Trial of a Brief Skills Training Program, Twelve-Step Influenced Intervention, and Controls" (PDF). Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 31 (3): 458–66. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2006.00327.x. PMID 17295731.
Alcoholism often reduces a person's life expectancy by around ten years. The most common cause of death in alcoholics is from cardiovascular complications. There is a high rate of suicide in chronic alcoholics, which increases the longer a person drinks. Approximately 3–15 percent of alcoholics commit suicide, and research has found that over 50 percent of all suicides are associated with alcohol or drug dependence. This is believed to be due to alcohol causing physiological distortion of brain chemistry, as well as social isolation. Suicide is also very common in adolescent alcohol abusers, with 25 percent of suicides in adolescents being related to alcohol abuse. Among those with alcohol dependence after one year, some met the criteria for low-risk drinking, even though only 25.5 percent of the group received any treatment, with the breakdown as follows: 25 percent were found to be still dependent, 27.3 percent were in partial remission (some symptoms persist), 11.8 percent asymptomatic drinkers (consumption increases chances of relapse) and 35.9 percent were fully recovered—made up of 17.7 percent low-risk drinkers plus 18.2 percent abstainers. In contrast, however, the results of a long-term (60-year) follow-up of two groups of alcoholic men indicated that "return to controlled drinking rarely persisted for much more than a decade without relapse or evolution into abstinence." There was also "return-to-controlled drinking, as reported in short-term studies, is often a mirage."
Clear communication by parents about the negative effects of alcohol, as well as about their expectations regarding drug use, has been found to significantly decrease alcohol use in teens. Adequate parental supervision has also been found to be a deterrent to underage alcohol abuse. Alcohol, and other drug use, has been found to occur most often between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., immediately after school and prior to parents' arrival at home from work. Teen participation in extracurricular activities has therefore been revealed to be an important prevention measure for the use of alcohol in this age group. Parents can also help educate teens about appropriate coping and stress-management strategies. For example, 15- to 16-year-olds who use religion to cope with stress tend to use drugs significantly less often and have fewer problems as a result of drinking than their peers who do not use religion to cope.
Alcoholics Anonymous is the largest of all the twelve-step programs (from which all other twelve-steps programs are derived), followed by Narcotics Anonymous; the majority of twelve-step members are recovering from addiction to alcohol or other drugs. The majority of twelve-step programs, however, address illnesses other than substance addiction. For example, the third-largest twelve-step program, Al-Anon, assists family members and friends of people who have alcoholism and other addictions. About twenty percent of twelve-step programs are for substance addiction recovery, the other eighty percent address a variety of problems from debt to depression. It would be an error to assume the effectiveness of twelve-step methods at treating problems in one domain translates to all or to another domain, therefore readers are directed to relevant sections in each group's article.
A chronic, progressive behavioral disorder characterized by a strong urge to consume ethanol and an inability to limit the amount of drinking despite adverse consequences, which may include social or occupational impairment and deterioration of physical health. Both physical dependence (withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, tremors, and delirium resulting from abstinence) and tolerance (the need to increase alcohol intake to achieve the desired effect) occur.
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was the first 12-step program established and many other support groups have branched off from AA using this model. AA is an organization that unites people who have struggled with alcohol dependency, providing strength and faith in one another to overcome addiction. Its mission is to “stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety” without judgment or segregation. AA founders Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith developed the 12 steps based on concepts from Carl Jung’s theories as influenced by Eastern philosophy, and from spiritual values such as those rooted in the principles of the Oxford Group.
Self Management and Recovery Training (SMART Recovery). SMART Recovery is a network of support groups that advocate the use of scientific research in addiction recovery. SMART Recovery supports the use of prescription medications and behavioral therapies in the treatment of substance abuse. Since scientific knowledge is constantly evolving, the SMART Recovery program is also constantly evolving. The organization has face-to-face meetings across the United States and daily online meetings.
A sponsor is a more experienced person in recovery who guides the less-experienced aspirant ("sponsee") through the program's twelve steps. New members in twelve-step programs are encouraged to secure a relationship with at least one sponsor who both has a sponsor and has taken the twelves steps themselves. Publications from twelve-step fellowships emphasize that sponsorship is a "one on one" nonhierarchical relationship of shared experiences focused on working the Twelve Steps. According to Narcotics Anonymous: