Most Corporations support the treatment of alcoholism because they have found that for every dollar spent on treatment, they get back multiple dollars in improved performance by the person in recovery. Moreover, they would rather have an employee get treatment for his or her addiction, than lose the investment of time and training they have made in that employee and have to again spend more time and energy training a new employee to do that job.
For clinical and research purposes, formal diagnostic criteria for alcoholism also have been developed. Such criteria are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association, as well as in the International Classification Diseases, published by the World Health Organization.
References to check include:
The National Institutes on Alcohol and Alcoholism also publish information about Alcohol. (Alcohol Alert No. 30: Diagnostic Criteria for Alcohol Abuse and Dependence; Alcohol Alert No. 18: The Genetics of Alcoholism; Alcohol Alert No. 49: New Advances in Alcoholism Treatment ; News Releases, Jan. 17, 1995: Naltrexone Approved for Alcoholism Treatment and Publication, Alcohol Alert No. 33: Neuroscience Research and Medications Development;
See also Publications, A Family History of Alcoholism — Are You at Risk?
Alcoholism treatment works. To be successful the person needs to develop new skills. These skills require time and reinforcement and practice to become an automatic part of the person’s behavior. But just like any chronic disease, there are varying levels of success when it comes to treatment. Some people stop drinking and remain sober. Others have long periods of sobriety with bouts of relapse. Still others cannot stop drinking for any length of time. With treatment, one thing is clear, however: the longer a person abstains from alcohol, the more likely he or she will be able to stay sober.
A range of medications is used to treat alcoholism.
Benzodiazepines (Valium® , Librium®, Ativan ®) are sometimes used during the first days after a person stops drinking to help him or her safely withdraw from alcohol. These medications are not used beyond the first few days, however, because they may be highly addictive.
Other medications help people remain sober. One medication used for this purpose is naltrexone (ReVia™). When combined with counseling naltrexone can reduce the severity of a relapse on alcohol and help prevent a person from returning, or relapsing, to heavy drinking. Another medication, disulfiram (Antabuse®), discourages drinking by making the person feel sick if he or she drinks alcohol. Campral® is a medication that is used in the early months of recovery from alcohol addiction. It helps to counteract imbalances in the nervous system caused by chronic alcohol use and can reduce relapse rates. These medications do not change habit patterns. They are only adjuncts to help the person as they are participating in an ongoing recovery program. There is no “magic bullet.” In other words, no single medication is available that works in every case and/or on every person. Developing new and more effective medications to treat alcoholism remains a high priority for researchers.
Yes, alcoholism can be treated. Alcoholism treatment programs use both counseling and medications to help a person stop drinking. Aversion therapy is also used to treat alcoholism. Twelve Step Programs are used my many people in recovery to assist them in maintaining ongoing sobriety. Most alcoholics need help to recover from their disease. The amount of help is usually in proportion to the severity of the problems the person has had prior to their entering treatment. With support and treatment, many people are able to stop drinking and rebuild their lives.
No, alcoholism cannot be cured at this time. Even if an alcoholic hasn’t been drinking for a long time, he or she can still suffer a relapse. To guard against a relapse, an alcoholic must continue to avoid all alcoholic beverages.
Research shows that the risk for developing alcoholism does indeed run in families. The genes a person inherits partially explain this pattern, but lifestyle is also a factor. Currently, researchers are working to discover the actual genes that put people at risk for alcoholism. Your friends, the amount of stress in your life, and how readily alcohol is available, as well as the presence of other mental health disorders, also are factors that may increase your risk for alcoholism. But remember: Risk is not destiny. Just because alcoholism tends to run in families doesn’t mean that a child of an alcoholic parent will automatically become an alcoholic too. Some people develop alcoholism even though no one in their family has a drinking problem. By the same token, not all children of alcoholic families get into trouble with alcohol. Knowing you are at risk is important, though, because then you can take steps to protect yourself from developing problems with alcohol.
Yes, alcoholism is a disease. The craving that an alcoholic feels for alcohol can be as strong as the need for food or water. An alcoholic will continue to drink despite serious family, health, or legal problems. Like many other diseases, alcoholism is chronic, meaning that it lasts a person’s lifetime; it usually follows a predictable course; and it has symptoms. The risk for developing alcoholism is influenced both by a person’s genes and by his or her lifestyle.
Drugs work because they mimic certain messengers in the brain that carry survival information. When needs are met such as food, water, and safety, our brain uses certain chemical messengers to send important survival messages. The centers where these messages go have powerful control over behavior and generally operate independently of the intellect. Normally, these centers are only stimulated when survival needs are actually met. When addictive drugs are used the drugs can stimulate these centers. Depending on a person’s genetic make up, the drug may be able to more or less powerfully stimulate these centers and suppress the function of the normal system. When the drugs provide powerful stimulation and suppress the normal function, then addiction can progress, as the survival brain learns that using the drug is a new way to survive.
We facilitate patients progressing through the 12 Steps of AA. The goal for most patients is to complete the first five steps while they are going through the Recovery Road program, because of the high emotional content of these steps. The step work is expected to be done through the AA program which runs parallel to the work done at Recovery Road.
The question is more about your function and your relationships than whether you are on a maintenance opiate. With our current medical technology some people are not able to stay off of opiates and function and have found that being on maintenance opiates has allowed them to return to productive lives.
The Recovery Road Medical Center program provides psychiatric, chemical dependency, pain and medical evaluations, and the ability to provide individual and group programs at the same location. We believe that this coordination of services provides an added benefit to the patient who is seeking recovery. We also recognize that recovery is something that is learned experientially over time, similar to learning a sport, learning to drive or learning to dance. People may start and make mistakes, but they can pick themselves up and continue the process of learning that eventually will lead to a sustained recovery.
Substances that we deal with: alcohol, cocaine, prescription drugs, benzodiazepines, methamphetamine, hallucinogens, marijuana and opiates.
Addictive drugs produce one feeling, but as the nervous system adapts to the drug, coming off the drug produces the opposite feeling. The emotional centers of the brain then become dependent upon the drug to keep oneself “emotionally” in balance. Psychologically, one of the major functions of a drug is to chemically say “shut up” to a part of self. When this is repeated over and over again it becomes automatic. The part of self that is told to “shut up” is shamed and not respected which leads to anger and isolation. This compounds the emotional impact of addiction. In addition, people do and say things under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or fail to do things which results in serious losses, shame and guilt. These emotions compound the above emotional trauma
The Recovery Road Program helps the person to listen to and acknowledge what is inside and to reestablish respect for self. Through daily treatment the person goes from rejecting what is inside as a way of dealing with feelings to sharing what is inside as a way of learning what to do with what is behind the feelings.
We believe each patient should be treated with respect and have access to and knowledge about different treatment modalities that suit his or her needs.
Responsibility vs. Control with an illness.
We are used to recognizing that there are medical problems we can’t control. We are responsible for treating these problems, but we are not in control of the illness. A person whose heart goes too slow or too fast must take responsibility to treat a condition they cannot control. In the brain there are parts of us we can control and parts we cannot control. We are responsible for being accountable to both.
- Anxiety Disorders
- ADD (Attention Deficit Disorders)
- Eating Disorders
- Chronic Pain
Mood disorders in some cases also have a strong genetic component that affects how the brain processes emotional or cognitive information. In other cases the disorder results from overwhelming life events, grief, loss, or difficulty adapting to new situations.
For some people the use of alcohol and drugs starts as a way to feel good that may be socially acceptable as in the case of alcohol. Using a drug may be something that is part of a social group, such as smoking marijuana or as part of being “grown up”, as in the case of nicotine.
Studies of college freshman indicate that the most common early sign of going on to have an alcohol problem, is having high tolerance for alcohol. This seems to be genetically inherited.
However, some people use alcohol or drugs to also disconnect from life’s problems and that may be their pathway. Others may find that alcohol or drugs calm down negative emotions which are part of another separate mood disorder or to deal with physically painful conditions. Such painful conditions often also have significant emotional impact. These conditions need to be dealt with if the person is to recover from their addiction.
We believe addiction is a disease of a very primitive part of the brain which is responsible for survival. This part of the brain usually operates independently of the person’s intellect. Addiction occurs when this part of the brain sees the drug as a new way to survive.
We believe there is a strong genetic susceptibility to addiction which helps explain why some people become addicted to alcohol or drugs and others do not.
We do not confuse the person with his or her addiction. When a person is addicted he or she is desperately trying to control his or her drug use. They want to use the drug but not have problems using. When a problem occurs the person feels such a need for the drug they will blame themselves for not controlling the drug. This is called denial. Each time a problem occurs the person records this as a failure of themselves, not the drug.
We believe in many cases there is a strong interconnection between substance dependence and untreated mood and anxiety disorders. Unfortunately shame, guilt, and societal stigma prevent a lot of people from seeking treatment. Addiction leads to isolation of the self which is a major obstacle in recovery. (Solitary Confinement is used as a torture in prison camps).