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Alcohol has been one of man’s favorite beverages, and vices, for thousands of years. Beer, wine, and liquor are served and consumed at almost every function and occasion. Unfortunately, alcohol has a destructive, dark side. Drinking safely requires self-regulation, and not everyone is able control their alcohol consumption. Millions of people simply aren’t able to limit how much or how often they drink. According to the World Health Organization, Alcohol Use Disorder have become so widespread that they kill 3.3 million people annually, more than any other substance.
Alcohol Use Disorders are Classified as a Chronic Disease
The American Psychiatry Association (APA), American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), and the American Medical Association (AMA) all define Alcoholism/Addiction as a chronic, progressive, relapsing brain disease. In 2016, Addiction or Substance Use Disorders were designated a medical specialty by the AMA.
Today we understand that addiction is a disease characterized by fundamental and long-lasting changes in the brain. Addiction can be successfully managed by following other chronic illness models and employing modern treatments based on scientific research. These methods can help patients counteract addiction’s powerful hold and disruptive effects on the brain and behavior to regain control of their lives. National Council Alcoholism Drug Dependence
When asked about treatment options for Alcohol Use Disorders, people commonly think of 12-step programs or 28-day inpatient rehab, but may have difficulty naming other options. In fact, there are a variety of treatment methods available, thanks to significant advances in the field over the past 60 years. Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and what may work for one person may not be a good fit for someone else. Simply understanding the different options can be an important first step. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
12 Step Programs Don't Work For Everyone
The first ever successful treatment for alcohol abuse was a philosophy centered around monitoring an individual’s abstinence through self-reporting in a group setting called Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, two former alcoholics, that self monitoring with the help of sharing in a group setting, sponsors, and fellowships could be effective. But individuals trying to self monitor without those resources found less success. The Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step Program was developed to help people stop drinking and address the negative behaviors that accompany alcohol abuse. Millions of people all over the world begin their recovery journey in 12-step programs and can find self-awareness and accountability through following program principles. The downside of 12-step programs is that in order for the program to work, the participant must be active in engagement and self reporting. Other tools for successful treatment and long term sobriety were needed. Technology has brought life-saving innovation to treatment.
Monitoring Has Become As Easy As Breathing
Treatment options are increasing as new techniques emerge. Random testing is a method used often in continued-care settings, but it is inconvenient and invasive. Advances in technology have taken the idea of monitoring and ushered it into the modern world. Monitoring is made easy by a wireless digital breathalyzer that uses facial recognition software and a Verizon cellular connection to make testing fast, convenient, and stigma free. Other technology involved in modern recovery includes bio feedback and recovery Apps, as well as supplemental homeopathic tools like yoga, meditation, exercise, diet, and nutrition.
Drug and alcohol use should be monitored continuously during treatment , as lapses during treatment do happen. Knowing drug and alcohol use is being monitored can be a powerful incentive for patients and can help them withstand urges to use. Monitoring can also provide an early indication of a return to drug or alcohol use, test results can signal a possible need to adjust an individual’s treatment plan to better meet their needs. National Institute of Drug Abuse
Understanding that Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and Alcohol Use Disorders (AUD) are a chronic, progressive and relapsing disease means that they can now take their places among other treatable chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. Testing for blood sugar, testing for high blood pressure use monitoring systems that can now be equally successful if applied to SUDs and AUDs. Whatever works for the individual is the best treatment option for them. It’s a brave new world for recovery.
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