Alcoholism Treatment Program at Defining Wellness

Alcoholism Treatment Program at Defining Wellness

Authored by Defining Wellness    Reviewed by Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis    Last Updated: December 5th, 2022

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis Medical Reviewer
Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

Understanding Alcoholism Treatment and Alcohol Rehab

Alcoholism is a chronic disease that can quickly take over your life and put it in a downward spiral. Some people think that alcohol abuse is caused by a weak will and that people who get addicted are doing it by choice. However, alcoholism can start in ways you wouldn’t expect. Eventually, the substances being used can rewire your brain and make it incredibly difficult to stop on your own.

An Overview of Alcohol

Alcohol is the product of fermenting yeast, sugar and starches, creating a beverage that produces an intoxicating effect on the individual. Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused substance in America, with 86.3 % of people aged 18 and over, reporting that they have drunk alcohol at least once in their lifetime [1]. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one alcoholic drink is measured as 12 ounces of beer, 8 ounces of wine or malt liquor, or 1 ounce of distilled liquor (rum, vodka, whiskey, etc.). The definition of excessive drinking or alcohol abuse is more than 8 drinks per week for women or more than 15 drinks per week for men, and binge drinking is classified as 4 or more drinks on one occasion for women, and 5 or more for men. [2] Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning that it disrupts the communication between neurons inside the brain. It is absorbed through the digestive tract into the bloodstream, where it is taken to the liver to be broken down. Once in the bloodstream, it affects every organ in the body. Only a small amount can be metabolized at a time, and the rest remains in the bloodstream to flow throughout the body until it can be processed.

Alcoholism Signs and Symptoms

Addiction to alcohol involves a loss of control over the individual’s drinking habits, to the detriment of their personal, professional, and physical and mental well-being. 

Some of the signs that a person may have alcohol use disorder (AUD) are:
  • Drinking more or longer than intended
  • Inability to cut down or stop drinking
  • Excessive time drinking, obtaining alcohol, or being sick after drinking
  • Craved alcohol or felt the need to drink
  • Engaged in risky behavior while under the influence of alcohol
  • Stopping activities and hobbies that were once enjoyed in order to drink
  • Continued drinking in spite of health, relationship, or professional problems
  • Needing to drink more to feel the same effect over time (building a tolerance)

Physical symptoms of prolonged excessive alcohol abuse are widespread across the body. Under the influence, the individual may have poor coordination, judgment, and speech. Memory problems and blackouts are common, as well as mood changes. The individual’s liver is affected by metabolizing large amounts of alcohol, and it can become scarred (cirrhosis) and the individual could develop hepatitis. The heart can begin to beat irregularly (arrhythmia), and the heart muscle can begin to break down and stretch (cardiomyopathy). High blood pressure is also prevalent. The immune system is also weakened greatly, causing the individual to be susceptible to becoming ill more frequently, and for longer periods [3].

Alcohol Withdrawal and Detox

Once alcohol has been consumed regularly over a long period, tolerance builds up and the system becomes used to a certain amount being present.  Over time, the individual becomes dependent on alcohol to function, and when the use is stopped withdrawal symptoms begin after about 6 hours. The most intense symptoms occur in 24-72 hours, and they subside within a week or so.

Common symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are:
  • Anxiety/ irritability
  • Confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting

In severe cases of withdrawal, a condition called Delirium Tremens (DT’s) can occur, affecting about 1 in 20 people [1]. This condition is very serious and potentially fatal, as it can cause seizures. No one should attempt detoxing from alcohol without medical help!  Hospitals and residential treatment centers can provide a safe and medically monitored environment to alleviate the discomfort of symptoms and ensure the individual’s well-being throughout the process. 

Alcohol Withdrawal and Detox

Residential treatment for alcohol use disorder offers the opportunity to begin building a solid foundation of recovery without the distractions in day to day living, as well as the benefit of being away from the environmental and social elements that promoted continued use. A variety of evidence-based therapeutic aid and activities are utilized to help build coping skills, diminish drinking urges and triggers, and begin to uncover underlying causes of using alcohol excessively. An inpatient setting offers a more individualized and intensive level of care and provides structure and routine to begin healing and nurturing a fulfilling life after treatment.

Aftercare Plan

After discharge from residential treatment, a solid aftercare plan written and developed with your care providers is essential to continued sobriety. Setting up a plan for continuing therapy, on either an outpatient or intensive outpatient basis, ongoing support from groups and family/friends, how to maintain physical wellness, potential pitfalls and stressors, and identifying recovery goals are all crucial to a strong aftercare plan. Life after residential treatment is managed by the client themselves, so the aftercare plan acts as a guide or map for the client to navigate the difficulties of early recovery and beyond. References:

Family-owned and operated, Defining Wellness Centers is a true labor of love. My wife Robin and I, along with our children, are deeply passionate about wellness, mental health and addiction treatment.

We are a family, dedicated to helping other families. We created Defining Wellness with two central goals in mind: to share our love, understanding and compassion with clients and to utilize the best health and wellness modalities available today to treat addiction.

Our programs are built on a foundation of proven, evidence-based therapeutic techniques combined with cutting-edge bio-technological treatments, fitness and experiential learning. Our end goal is to provide the support and tools necessary for people become their best selves through emotional wellness and balance.