Watching a loved one struggle with alcoholism can be a devastating experience. It is a scenario that’s all too common among American families. Around 7 percent of Americans over 12 years of age were battling an alcohol dependency in 2013, according to statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA). ¹ While the situation can seem overwhelming, it is possible to get help for someone with an alcohol use disorder. The key is to find the right alcohol rehab environment where they can work on getting better.
How Can Alcoholism Affect a Family?
Children who grow up in families with someone who has an alcohol addiction are at a higher risk of developing emotional problems. Genetics play a large role when it comes to the emergence of alcohol use disorders. The children of alcoholics are four times more likely than others to also become an alcoholic. Other factors, like abuse and neglect, can also come into play. ²
Being under the influence of alcohol can also negatively impact marital relationships. People with an alcohol use disorder may be unhappy and take those emotions out on their partner. ³ They may start to pull away, both physically and emotionally. Problems with one or both partners not being able to control their alcohol intake can lead to arguments and an overall atmosphere of conflict in the home.
Family members who find themselves trapped in a cycle of codependency may benefit from services like Al-Anon. It’s a group that helps family members understand how to take care of themselves while dealing with a loved one’s alcohol issues.
How Do I Know Which Treatment Option is Best?
An alcohol rehab can be a place where your family member learns the skills needed to say “no” to alcohol. It’s not about them not having enough willpower to quit or showing weakness by not overcoming an alcohol addiction on their own. They don’t have the knowledge or ability to pull themselves out of their current situation.
Families can be a difference-maker in helping people find a new way forward. You can help your loved one by doing thorough research on different alcohol rehab options that might be of benefit. Your family member can get an idea of the kind of comprehensive treatment they could receive by taking part in alcohol rehab.
As you go through your options, you should have a list of questions in your head. You want your final choice of alcohol rehab to be the one that puts your doubts to rest when it comes to the care they will provide your family member.
Should I Go With Inpatient or Outpatient Care?
Both inpatient and outpatient alcohol rehab options offer individuals the chance to participate in therapies and treatments that help them work through their issues.⁴ How either option might benefit your loved one depends on the extent of their alcohol dependency and their current lifestyle.
Impatient Alcohol Rehab
Inpatient alcohol rehabs typically provide 24-7 support and supervision for their residents. The length of an inpatient stay can vary. Some facilities offer shorter stays. Others give the clients the option of staying for up to a year or longer. Inpatient rehabs provide clients with a structured schedule where they attend therapy sessions several times per day.
Outpatient Alcohol Rehab
While some outpatient alcohol rehabs offer a lower intensity level of treatment than inpatient rehab, it can still benefit family members diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. Another benefit of outpatient alcohol addiction treatment is that the costs can be lower than that of an inpatient alcohol program.
Outpatient alcohol rehab typically works by having clients attend therapy sessions around two to three times each week. That allows individuals to continue attending school or work while receiving treatment. Many people start attending outpatient therapy to support their recovery once they leave an inpatient rehab facility.
Should I Admit My Family Member to a Medical Detox for Alcohol Rehab?
Some people get to the point where their physical and psychological dependency on alcohol can make it dangerous to stop without medical help. Long-term alcohol abuse can cause changes in the brain. Trying to go cold-turkey could lead to serious side effects like seizures, which could lead to a coma or even death.
Enrolling in a medical detox program allows clients to remain under observation as they go through alcohol withdrawal. Medical professionals can step in if they detect any medical emergencies. Medical detox can be a safe way for your family to rid their body of alcohol toxins before moving on to the next treatment stage.
Is It Possible My Family Member Has a Co-Occurring Disorder?
An underlying mental health disorder may exacerbate your family member’s alcohol addiction. When it exists alongside a substance abuse issue, it’s called a co-occurring disorder. Many people use alcohol as a way of self-medicating the symptoms of various mental problems like:
- Depression — Depression, or major depressive disorder, causes people to have constant feelings of sadness.⁵ Symptoms of depression in your family member can include a lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed, problems sleeping, lack of energy, and thoughts of self-harm.
- Bipolar Disorder — Bipolar disorder can cause people to have rapid shifts in mood and energy levels. The illness can affect a person’s ability to concentrate on tasks.⁶ You may notice your family member having periods where they seem really energetic, or “manic,” then going through bouts of sadness and hopelessness.
- Schizophrenia — Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness that can cause individuals to experience hallucinations, hear people speaking who aren’t there, have disorganized thoughts, and feel unmotivated.⁷
The National Institute of Health notes that individuals with an alcohol use disorder are two to three times more likely to have a co-occurring disorder. Individuals with a history of alcoholism were noted to be up to four times more likely to experience major depression at some point.
It’s possible for the same genetic factors that contribute to your loved one’s alcoholism to play a role in their co-occurring disorder. Some research has found a link between alcoholism and the onset of depression.⁸ You may want to bring that possibility up with potential alcohol treatment centers you evaluate for your loved one. You will want to ensure that they receive care for both the alcohol addiction and mental health disorder.
In the past, clients with co-occurring disorders only received treatment for one condition or the other when they are admitted to alcohol rehab. Most professionals now agree that it’s best to treat both the addiction and the mental disorder simultaneously. Doing so can lower the chances of your family member relapsing after leaving treatment for alcohol addiction.⁹
What Kind of Alcohol Treatment Plan Would My Loved One Follow?
The first step for most alcohol rehab facilities is to evaluate clients to make sure they understand all aspects of their illness. From there, they will work with them to create a treatment plan geared toward the client’s needs. Some of the services that are typically included in treatment plans for alcohol addiction include: ¹⁰
Group therapy gives your loved one a space where they can listen to and provide feedback to others going through a similar struggle. Attending group and individual therapy sessions can be more effective in treating issues like an alcohol use disorder.
Occupational therapy helps clients figure out how to get through daily routines without the help of alcohol. They also learn how to fulfill roles in their life that are important. That can include helping clients become better parents to their children or being a more available and loving partner to their spouse. ¹¹
Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous can provide your family member with the opportunity to connect with others who are also in recovery for an alcohol use disorder. AA or an alternative like SMART Recovery can be a place to share their experience and find support when they find themselves having a weak moment.
Your treatment plan may include other therapeutic services like:
- Individual Therapy
- Nutrition Education
- Relapse Prevention
- Family Therapy
Many clients like the idea of having a say in the formation of their treatment plan. It can also be helpful if the facility allows family members to weigh in on some of the decisions. The collaboration should lead to a strategy that looks out for the welfare of your family member. Keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to confront an issue with alcohol. Keep an open mind, and remember that getting any help for your loved one represents a step forward.
What Kind of Support Should We Expect From the Staff?
Most alcohol rehab facilities have staff members with different levels of responsibilities. Some of the people who may have a hand in the care of your family member include:
- Social Workers
- Recovery Peers
- Fitness Trainers
When evaluating the staff, look at the kind of degrees they hold. Do they represent the kind of professionals you want looking out for your family member? Are there staff members who have degrees and certifications that are specific to addiction treatment? Make sure you know who will be responsible for setting up treatments for your family members and that you are comfortable allowing them to have a say in those decisions.
How Do Alcohol Treatment Facilities Work?
If your family member struggles with alcohol withdrawal, the first stop may need to be a medical detox. You may want to check to see if the facility offers some form of medication management to ease their symptoms. There are currently three drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help individuals stop drinking. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/treatment-alcohol-problems-finding-and-getting-help
- Naltrexone — Naltrexone blocks alcohol from influencing opioid receptors, which stops the resulting rush that comes with drinking. ¹²
- Acamprosate — Acamprosate reduces the cravings people might experience while trying to give up drinking. It can also reduce certain symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, like insomnia and anxiety.¹³
- Disulfiram — Disulfiram interferes with your body’s ability to break down alcohol. That leads to a build-up of toxic alcohol compounds that make you feel sick. The feelings can help discourage people from drinking. ¹⁴
- Topiramate — Topiramate can control alcohol cravings in clients diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder and bipolar disorder. ¹⁵
The living arrangements offered at inpatient alcohol rehab facilities can vary. You should check for features that might be important to your family member, like:
- Private room option
- Dorm setting
- Private grounds
- Exercise room
- Recreational opportunities
Other things that might be important to your loved one can include how much they can interact with other residents or staff. They may prefer a more informal setting where they get the opportunity to talk with people outside of therapy sessions. You should also look into the kind of security the facility provides. Is it easy for people to come and go, or is there a strict intake and checkout process that does not allow your family member to leave without express permission?
The facility’s comfort level can make a difference in persuading a loved one to get help. A lot of people with alcoholism are not capable of comprehending that they need assistance. Spending time in a facility with others like them can help open your loved one’s eyes about the extent of their issues.
How Much Does an Alcohol Rehab Cost?
There’s no question that cost can play a role in whether a person receives the kind of help they need for their alcohol use disorder. Admittance to a residential treatment program with lots of upgrades and perks can cost a lot more than attending an outpatient program several times per week.
It is a question family members should address upfront with different facilities as they go about making a decision. Insurance can sometimes offset some or most of the costs of getting treatment. Speaking with an administrator at an alcohol rehab is the best way to get the kind of answers you need when it comes to making decisions about financing your loved one’s care.
Even though the cost of alcohol rehab can seem daunting, it can pay off in the long-term by helping your loved one become healthy. It may be better to shoulder the costs of rehab now versus allowing a loved one’s problem with alcohol to continue spinning out of control.
Find Alcohol Rehab Help For Your Loved One
Getting a loved one to admit that they need help can be a challenge. Your family member may need help understanding the effects their drinking has on others who care about them. You also have to let go of any misconceptions about alcohol abuse. Once you accept that your family member has a chronic disease that needs treatment, it can help inform how you approach your loved one to get help.
It’s not going to be an easy process. It may take a lot of time and effort to get your family member to fully accept their need for assistance. They may make numerous attempts at getting sober. Relapse is often part of many people’s path as they work toward recovery.
Harmony Place offers a peaceful, therapeutic environment for individuals looking to make a change. It can be hard to change your thought processes around alcohol. Our qualified staff is here to help clients and their families get the support needed to overcome the struggles that come with an alcohol addiction. Each resident receives care and treatment suited to their individual needs.
You can find out more about the services and programs offered to Harmony Place clients by calling us at (855) 652-9048. It’s never too late to start over and rebuild the bonds of family.
1National Institute on Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol Facts and Statistics.
2American Family of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Alcohol Use in Families.
3American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Substance Abuse and Intimate Relationships.
4National Institute on Drug Abuse. Types of Treatment Programs.
5American Psychiatric Association. What Is Depression?
6National Institute of Mental Health. Bipolar Disorder.
7American Psychiatric Association. What is Schizophrenia?
8National Institute on Abuse and Alcoholism. Is There a Genetic Relationship Between Alcohol and Depression?
9National Institute on Abuse and Alcoholism. Other Psychiatric Disorders.
10National Institute on Drug Abuse. Types of Treatment Programs.
11American Occupational Therapy Association. Recovery With Purpose: Occupational Therapy and Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
12National Alliance on Mental Health. Acamprosate (Campral)
13National Alliance on Mental Health. Naltrexone (ReVia)
14National Alliance on Mental Health. Disulfiram (Antabuse)
15National Alliance on Mental Health. Topiramate (Topamax)