Treatment options for alcohol dependence are varied and eclectic. However, there are a few standard modalities that are recognized as vital components of many treatment programs. Medication Therapy One of the first areas of treatment that an individual may encounter is medication therapy. Clients experiencing physiological withdrawal may participate in a medically-managed detox program that may include sedatives and/or Campral to ease the experience of withdrawal.
Some facilities utilize specific medications, such as Disulfiram or Calcium Carbimide, that discourage alcohol use by altering the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol. Another option is a prescribed opioid antagonist, like Naltrexone.
This class of medication decreases alcohol consumption by blocking the specific receptors that make consuming alcohol enjoyable. During treatment, co-morbid psychological diagnoses may also be treated with medication in addition to therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy One of the most common therapeutic options in treatment is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
The purpose of CBT is to help the client recognize and replace errors in thinking with effective coping skills and adaptive behaviors.
Some examples of thinking errors are overgeneralization, catastrophizing, and black and white thinking. The client and therapist work together during sessions and through homework assignments to develop effective coping skills in the areas of mindfulness, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation. Community Rewards Community Rewards is a behaviorist approach often coupled with Disulfiram therapy and other counseling modalities. This approach helps the client reorganize his life in such a way that abstaining from alcohol results in positive reinforcement that exceeds the perceived benefits of drinking.
The counselor and client, along with the client’s spouse or support system, analyze the client’s drinking patterns and practice adaptive ways to replace alcohol use. Motivational Interviewing One of the most common adjunct approaches to CBT, Motivational Interviewing is utilized to move the client through the stages of recovery by increasing the client’s awareness of the consequences and risks inherent in continuing a maladaptive behavior.
To do this, the counselor utilizes four steps: express empathy, develop discrepancy, roll with resistance, and support self-efficacy. The counselor or therapist recognizes that the client is responsible for change and maintains a nonjudgmental and non-confrontational approach. Group Therapy Many treatment facilities utilize group therapy in addition to individual therapy and Motivational Interviewing. This format allows participants to gather in a supportive community, under the guidance of a counselor, in order to share experiences and voice concerns about issues relevant to addiction and recovery with like-minded peers. Some forms of group therapy involve Twelve Step meetings and/or psycho-education.
Family Systems Therapy A final component of treatment may be Family Therapy. This type of therapy brings together the client’s support system in order to alter dysfunctional dynamics in communication within the family. This is particularly valuable since the process of recovering and changing maladaptive patterns of thinking and behavior during treatment may upset the familiar household dynamic.
Family Therapy allows the family system to change together. The most effective approach to treatment is one that incorporates the best of these evidence-based practices with the specific needs of the individual client.