Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment

Individualized care that is built around healing, respect, empowerment, and choice.
Fearing that you or someone you love has an alcohol use disorder (AUD, the medical term for alcoholism) can feel really scary. Alcohol can be a dangerous and addictive substance, especially when consumed in large quantities. Alcohol use disorder treatment is designed to eliminate the
Suffering from AUD can cause people’s quality of life to decrease rapidly. It may hinder a person’s ability to take care of themselves or other responsibilities. It is common for people with severe alcohol use disorder to have a lack of vitamins from poor diets. While withdrawal from many addictive substances can be uncomfortable or even painful, withdrawal from AUD is particularly dangerous because the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be hazardous or even deadly.
If you or someone you know is suffering from AUD, it is important that you know you are not alone. In fact, according to data from 2019, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimated that 14.5 million people ages 12 and up in the U.S. suffered from AUD. With the rise of mental health issues that have come along with the COVID pandemic, that number has likely grown over the last couple of years.

AUD impacts Texas as well. In 2020, the United Health Foundation estimated that 18.2% percent of adults in Texas binge drank. Binge drinking is not the same as having AUD, but most people with AUD binge drink.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

An AUD occurs when someone cannot stop using or control their use of alcohol. Typically, people with an AUD develop a chemical dependence on alcohol. Everyone is different, so alcohol use disorder may not look the same for every person.

It can be difficult to watch the people you love struggle with alcohol use disorder. It is not uncommon for people suffering from AUD to feel like they are stuck in a cycle they can’t escape from. Many people with AUD try to quit drinking but cannot get through the withdrawal symptoms or the stress of quitting on their own.

Most successful recoveries from AUD begin with some kind of treatment. Receiving alcoholism treatment helps people see that they are greater than their struggles. It also gives them the support and life skills they need to stay sober after they’ve finished their recovery program.

What Are the Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder?

There are many signs that someone has an alcohol dependence problem. Some signs include drinking simply to get drunk, hiding the extent of their drinking, turning to alcohol when facing an unexpected hardship, drinking and driving, repeating destructive patterns, getting into dangerous situations, drinking more than they had planned to, difficulty concentrating, and many more.

In addition to the behavioral warning signs of AUD, there are also some physical and psychological symptoms of AUD. Everyone is different, and a person may not show all of the symptoms of AUD. It isn’t necessary to wait until someone is showing all of the symptoms to receive treatment. These symptoms typically include things like anxiety, depression, irritability, and physical cravings for alcohol.

These services will be part of a structured treatment plan for patients so they can be successful in their recovery journeys.
Alcohol Use

Break Free From Alcohol Use Disorder

The team at Continuum Outpatient Center provides an individualized treatment for alcoholism designed for your success. Call us to learn more.

How Can I Tell the Difference Between Alcohol Use Disorder and Casual Drinking?

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between someone who is a heavy but casual drinker and someone who is suffering from AUD. Someone who is a casual or social drinker typically does not show the above-mentioned traits and behaviors associated with AUD. The CDC says moderate drinking is about two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
People who are casual drinkers typically drink with friends or with a meal but can stop drinking when they want to. While casual drinkers may occasionally drink more than they should, they would not do so regularly. They should be able to identify the behavior and stop themselves from doing it again. In contrast, someone with AUD would likely overdrink many, many times.
Casual drinkers also do not use alcohol as a crutch or as a way to deal with their feelings. They typically do not turn to alcohol as their only way to relax or to get through difficulties like a breakup or the loss of a job.

What Are the Short-Term Side Effects of Binge Drinking?

Binge drinking is not the same as alcohol use disorder. Many people without AUD occasionally binge drink. However, people with AUD almost always have a history of binge drinking, and many people suffering from AUD binge drink regularly.

Some of the short-term effects of binge drinking can include poor judgment and an increase in risky decision-making, upset stomach, vomiting, poor coordination, headaches, and blacking out (loss of memory). In more extreme scenarios, symptoms of severe alcohol poisoning, such as seizures, passing out, or even comas, can be encountered.

What Are the Long-Term Side Effects of Alcohol Use Disorder?

Long-term AUD can have serious effects on the body. Some conditions, like a stroke or cancer, can have further long-term impacts and even lead to death. It is important to treat AUD as early as possible to prevent these health issues from setting in.
The effects of long-term alcohol misuse can include high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, liver disease/cancer, throat/mouth cancer, gastritis (inflamed stomach lining), and stomach ulcers, among many others.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous. AUD changes the way the brain works because the brain adjusts to functioning with high levels of alcohol. When alcohol is drastically reduced or removed, the brain and nervous system need time to readjust. For this reason, people with AUD should not stop drinking cold turkey on their own.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Early alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as little as six hours after a person’s last drink. However, every person’s body is different, and six hours is simply an average. These symptoms typically can include anxiety, headaches, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, unsteady hands, and intense sweating.

Peak withdrawal symptoms typically begin somewhere between 12 and 24 hours after someone with AUD has their last drink. In addition to the above-mentioned symptoms, they may develop more serious and dangerous symptoms. Peak withdrawal symptoms can include hallucinations or seizures, which can lead to brain damage, coma, or death.
A fairly rare side effect of alcohol withdrawal, known as delirium tremens, only affects about 5% of people who go through alcohol withdrawal and usually start two or three days after a person’s last drink. DTs are associated with very intense and realistic hallucinations as well as other delusions (strongly held thoughts or beliefs that have no bearing on reality). Other symptoms of DTs can include extreme confusion, unusually fast or racing heartbeat, sweating that is worse than it was earlier in withdrawal, high blood pressure, and fever or unusually high body temperature.

Detox and Alcohol Use Disorder

Detoxing is often the first step in recovery from AUD. Detoxing is the process of getting alcohol completely out of your system. When it comes to alcohol, detoxing can potentially be dangerous because of the above-listed alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It is important that people not try to detox on their own.

Diagnosing Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-occurring disorders are when someone is suffering from a mental illness along with a substance use disorder, such as AUD. The two are very often related, and many people use alcohol as a way to “self-medicate” their mental illness.
Studies from the U.S. National Library of Medicine show “about half of people who have a mental disorder will also have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives and vice versa. The interactions of the two conditions can worsen both.”
The same study found that many of the same factors that put people at risk for substance use disorders, like genetics (inborn traits), trauma, and high levels of stress, can also put people at risk for mental illness. Diagnosing a mental illness often helps find the roots of a person’s AUD, which helps ensure they are getting treatment to deal with the causes of their AUD and not just the symptoms. Treating co-occurring disorders also improves peoples’ chances for long-term recovery.

Alcohol Use Treatment at Continuum

Continuum Outpatient offers an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for treating mental health and substance use disorders, like alcohol use disorder, and is located in beautiful San Antonio, Texas. The curriculum is designed to help patients overcome their past trauma, prevent relapse, heal relationships, and learn skills that enhance their lives. We not only teach our patients, but help them change their habits by putting the skills they learn into everyday practice.

Evidence-based methods and patient-centered care drive our curriculum. By using proven therapies, our programs give each patient the greatest chance for a positive outcome in recovery. To achieve this, we focus on one of the following topics in each week of the program: The Four Agreements, Brain Works, human relationships, trauma and growth, mindfulness, life skills, relapse prevention, boundaries and balance, self-care, and family roles.
Treatment at Continuum Outpatient is designed to help people who need a more flexible schedule throughout their recovery. We offer a daytime IOP, which is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon; and an evening IOP, which is on the same days from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. There are also telehealth options for people who prefer or need to receive treatment remotely.
Outpatient treatment is a good option for people who do not have the time to do an inpatient stay due to responsibilities at work or home. Outpatient treatment may also be a good option for people who have already completed an inpatient stay but need additional support as they navigate the world through their recovery journey.
Continuum Outpatient is in-network with most insurance providers.

Get Help Today

At Continuum, we are dedicated to helping people in recovery stay sober. If you believe you or someone in your life could benefit from our outpatient services, please call us now.