Alcohol use disorder, also known as alcohol abuse or addiction, is one of the most common substance use disorders in the United States, affecting millions of Americans.
It’s a significant personal and public health problem that can affect your health, relationships with family members, livelihood, as well as your overall quality of life.
Yet, despite its high prevalence among the general population, research shows that just about one in 10 people with alcohol use disorder actually receive treatment.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition that’s characterized by frequent and/or heavy drinking that interferes with your life.
Signs of this include alcohol dependence, constantly thinking about alcohol, cravings, and continuing to drink despite negative consequences, including health issues.
Why Do So Few People With Alcohol Use Disorder Get Treatment?
Addiction experts believe that a number of factors, including environmental and personal factors, can contribute to the lack of treatment received by most with AUD.
Barriers to alcohol abuse treatment may include:
- cost barriers
- lack of interagency coordination (e.g. between medical and addiction treatment providers)
- lack of available resources/treatment services
- lack of knowledge about signs of AUD
- inadequate/lack of screening by physicians
- transportation barriers
- motivation for change
How Common Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
According to the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 28 million Americans have past-year alcohol use disorder. That includes both adolescents and adults.
What Are The Most Common AUD Treatments?
Alcohol abuse treatment can come in many forms. For example, an inpatient rehab program, or outpatient treatment services, such as counseling and mental health treatment.
Inpatient Alcohol Rehab
An inpatient treatment program, also known as residential treatment, is the most intensive level of care for treating the effects of alcohol use disorder.
This involves overnight care, and therefore 24-hour medical supervision and support, alongside a daily schedule of treatment services.
What an inpatient treatment plan might include:
- alcohol detoxification (detox)
- individual counseling
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- motivational enhancement therapy
- group therapy
- peer support groups
- 12-Step groups (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous)
- medication (e.g. acamprosate, disulfiram, naltrexone)
- mental health treatment
- family therapy
- relapse prevention skills learning
- aftercare support
Outpatient Alcohol Rehab
Outpatient treatment is a less intensive level of care for alcohol use disorder that does not require living in a treatment facility for around-the-clock care.
Generally, within an outpatient program, you will attend treatment anywhere from one to five days a week, either at a hospital, rehab facility, or counseling office.
Outpatient treatment of alcohol use disorder may include:
- support groups
- medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
- psychiatry appointments
- primary care doctor visits
There are a variety of outpatient interventions to help a person stop drinking.
A highly-structured example of an outpatient intervention is a partial hospitalization program (PHP), which involves a more intensive treatment schedule.
For mild alcohol abuse issues, however, or a less severe drinking problem, someone may attend weekly counseling, support groups, and check in regularly with a healthcare provider.
What Are The Dangers Of Untreated Alcohol Use Disorder?
Untreated alcohol use disorder is a serious issue.
Qualifying for an AUD diagnosis means that your drinking has become severe enough to affect your health and your ability to function in your everyday life as normal.
For example, alcohol can worsen depression, anxiety, other mental health issues, can lead to effects on relationships, and more.
Over time, risks and dangers of alcohol use disorder can include:
- accidental injuries
- kidney and liver problems (e.g. cirrhosis)
- heart disease
- digestive problems
- poor mental health
- brain damage
- risk of certain cancers (e.g. breast cancer, mouth cancer)
- alcohol withdrawal symptoms
Your relationships, work-life, and ability to carry on your day as normal can also be affected by excessive alcohol consumption and other harmful drinking patterns.
Where To Find Treatment For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
Alcohol treatment can be found in various treatment settings, including community-based health centers, depending on the level of care you need for your drinking problem.
At DetoxRehabs.net, our team of treatment specialists can help you find an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program that’s best suited to meet the needs of yourself or a loved one.
We can help you by:
- verifying your insurance
- helping you find a drug or alcohol assessment
- identifying treatment options near you
- connecting you with an alcohol rehab program
It’s never too soon or too late to seek help for a drinking problem. Call our helpline today for more information about alcohol treatment options.Article Sources
- Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research — A cascade of care for alcohol use disorder: Using 2015–2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data to identify gaps in 12-month care
- Cleveland Clinic — Alcohol Use Disorder: What It Is, Risks & Treatment
- Rural Health Info — Barriers to Preventing and Treating Substance Use Disorders in Rural Communities
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) —Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2020 NSDUH
- U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) — Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help