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Alcohol Use Disease (AUD) or alcoholism is curable just like most of the other diseases. To cure any disease, it is important that you make sure that you have that disease. Just jumping to a conclusion that a loved one is alcoholic can never be good enough. How are you sure that the person is an alcoholic? Maybe they enjoy two glasses of wine on a weekend. It is possible that they pop open a bubbly for celebrations. You have to look for symptoms and if any three of the symptoms are there then you can call the person an alcoholic.
The symptoms can be excessive drinking, impulsive behavior, and compulsive decisions. You might also notice relapsing situations quite often.
In case of witnessing three of the symptoms, you can consult a professional for cure. You can also help out the individual on your own. For that you need to gain some knowledge about alcoholism like the stages of this disease and how it can be cured.
Is alcoholism curable? Let us find that out through this elaborate post.
Alcoholism – The Stages
Alcoholism has five different stages. The stages are primarily identified by the symptoms. The more symptoms observed in an person, the worse situation would be there to cure.
The first stage – abnormal or binge drinking
In this stage, the symptoms are hard to find. You can only witness excessive drinking habit. For example, a person who usually drinks just two shots of vodka would switch to either extra shots or bourbon.
Sometimes, people who drink at some special occasion start drinking every day and in huge amount that is weird for the surrounding people. This is known as binge drinking. Researchers have categorized it into two:
- For men – five or more than five alcoholic drinks in two hours.
- For women – four or more alcoholic drinks in two hours.
The amount can exceed too. But this is the average amount that is identifiable in binge drinkers.
The second stage; Greater tolerance for alcohol
In this stage, the drinkers can have excessive amounts of drinks. Their body develops greater tolerance and so they increase the number of drinks. If someone was having six drinks in two hours, he/she will now have around ten or even more drinks in the same time limit. For such people, excuses for drinking are infinite. Just to feel good and relaxed, they consume alcohol. For a normal person, a glass of wine with dinner is enough for the day because an alcoholic would consume it casually every day.
The third stage; Drinking becomes a necessity or problem
This stage is very stressful for the patient as well as the surrounding people. Drinking too much leads to this uncontrollable need to drink. People become more stressed out, anxious, and face sleeplessness in this stage. Individuals are termed as ‘problem drinkers.’ This impacts the social as well as professional life of the person.
The fourth stage; dependence on alcohol
There is a fine line between addiction and dependence. In this stage, the patient is only dependent on alcohol and not yet addicted to it. Drinks become a part of your everyday routine. The patient feels incomplete without drinking. There is an attachment between the person and alcohol because he/she has developed a tolerance for it. Despite of the fact that they know how adversely it can affect them but still their day is not complete without it.
The fifth stage; addiction to alcohol
This is the last stage of alcoholism and it is no longer a pleasurable activity. Until stage four, the alcoholic feels pleasure from drinking. At this stage, the feeling of pleasure is nowhere to be found. The lost count of glasses becomes a habit and this is characterized by major behavioral and biological changes.
What is the cure to alcoholism?
Unfortunately, there is no miracle medicine that can help a patient of AUD. Different researches have been conducted and have made it clear that only exercises and moral support can help the patient. Although there are medicines available at the pharmacy but that can ease the patient for some time. Without any exercises, the medicines will last no longer than a week or so.
The best therapy is behavioral therapy or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The rehabilitation centers are also responsible for giving this therapy keeping medications aside. In this session, doctors make the patient exercise rigorously so that their stress or anxiety is released. Things are easier to handle if the patient is in the first two stages but after that, the situation is tough to handle. Especially the patients of fifth stage are remarkably hard to handle.
The circumstances are easier to change but how you feel or think about them is not. Alcoholics have to be treated carefully so that their feelings or thoughts are changed. A physician will talk to the patient and prescribe exercises on a regular basis so that attention is diverted and stress is released. CBT is responsible for:
- Informing the patients about situations where they can feel the need of alcohol.
- Control their behavior in case of any troublesome situation.
- Making sure that they avoid any alarming scenarios.
What does the therapist does in a CBT?
The main target of the therapist is to train the patient for better skills. The goal is to make the person good at coping skills. The therapist helps the patient to let go of the old habits and any disturbing situations and move on as a better person.
Duration and outcome of CBT
It depends upon the stage of the alcoholic but at least every person needs 12 to 16 sessions for the CBT to complete the best level. Other treatments can take years to complete
As far as the results or effectiveness is concerned, it is proved that CBT is the most effective therapy if no other treatment is being conducted. It has been randomly tested on different kinds of addicts including alcoholics and has successfully shown the best results. If CBT is combined with some medications or any recovery efforts, the results are even better and quick.
Alcoholics have stages too but it is important that they are identified and treated as soon as possible before the situation gets out of hands.