woman sitting with female doctor discussing the first step toward treating alcoholism

What is the First Step to Treating Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is the term most people use to talk about an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). AUD is described as when someone develops a pattern of using alcohol which includes issues controlling your drinking, being obsessive with thoughts of alcohol, or even continuing to use alcohol when it causes problems in your life. While AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe, any stage could cause life-altering effects. 

Signs of an Alcohol Problem

There are many signs of people with AUD. They may vary from person to person, but some of the most common are:

  • Obsessive thinking about alcohol- When or how you can have your next drink
  • Trying to plan your time around when you can drink
  • Withdrawing from social situations
  • Loss of interest in hobbies, work, and/or family events- Especially if there is no alcohol involved
  • Not being able to limit your alcohol intake
  • Developing a tolerance so you need more to feel alcohol’s effects
  • Wanting to cut down on how much you drink but can’t 
  • Having withdrawal symptoms if you don’t drink 

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time to take a deep dive into your life. Admitting you are suffering from an AUD is the very first step in getting help, becoming healthier, and finding yourself again!

When to Seek Treatment

Knowing when to seek treatment is one of the toughest parts of AUD. When you are in the throes of addiction, your foggy brain can trick you into thinking you’re fine, when you are not. So, how do you know when it’s time to seek treatment? 

The first step is to re-read the list above. Do any of those feel like you? Maybe those don’t, but there are a few other ways to decide it’s time to seek treatment, also. 

  • Are your friends/family telling you you’ve gotten out of control?
  • Are your loved ones telling you they are worried about you?
  • Has your body changed since you started drinking?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping without drinking?
  • Are you putting yourself or others at risk with your decisions while drinking?
  • Have you blacked out while drunk, or lost time when drinking?

A yes to any of these questions is a pretty good indicator that you’d benefit from seeking treatment. Treatment for AUD is not a one size fits all. Even though most treatment plans follow the same 3 stages, the plan can still be individualized to fit your specific needs.

The 3 Stages of Alcoholism Treatment

Most alcoholism treatment plans include 3 stages, but each plan looks a bit different, depending on your personal needs. Starting with the first stage, Detox is necessary for most people suffering from AUD because alcohol can cause physical damage if you quit cold turkey. 

Stage 1: Detox

Detoxing in a medical facility is the safest, most compassionate option to start your treatment journey. Because detox is when alcohol is completely flushed out of your body, you can experience many physical symptoms that can be uncomfortable. Physical withdrawal & detox symptoms can include anxiety, sweating, nausea, insomnia, tremors, disorientation, hallucinations, delirium tremens, or even seizures. 

Detox can take anywhere from 3 days to two weeks, or longer, depending on the severity of your AUD. But, don’t let that deter you! Having an experienced team to help you through this process lessens your chances of a rough detox. 

Stage 2: Rehabilitation

After successfully completing stage 1, your plan will include rehab. There are many options for rehabilitation with an Alcohol Use Disorder. Absolute Awakenings offers Partial Care, Residential, and Intensive Outpatient services.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient Treatment or Residential Treatment are programs that require you to check into and stay 24 hours a day at a facility. The benefits of inpatient treatment are vast, but having medical and other staff on call is the reason this is the most popular option. 

Inpatient is considered to be the method that helps with long-term sobriety the most. Typically they offer a set schedule that is clinically proven to help with success in sobriety for AUD patients. The schedules usually include meals, counseling, therapies, and other planned activities.

Partial Care

Partial Hospital Programs (PHP) are also referred to as day programs. PHPs can provide intensive care for addiction, and mental health disorders without requiring you to stay overnight. These programs offer a more intensive level of care than Outpatient Programs. You would travel to and from the facility each day (3-5 days a week, depending on your individual plan) and return home each night. 

This program can serve as either a step down from a residential treatment plan or a way for you to get a start on addiction treatment, instead of going into inpatient rehab right away.

Intensive Outpatient 

Intensive Outpatient (IOP) is a program that is flexible and can be great for patients who have a stable home environment. IOP is also used as a step-down from residential treatment programs. Outpatient programs consist of scheduled sessions at specific agreed-upon times. This way, they can fit your unique schedule. 

To find which one would fit your needs the best, our admissions team will be happy to help you put together a plan. 

Stage 3: Maintenance

After completing stages 1 and 2 of your treatment plan, the next step is a maintenance plan. Maintenance simply means to continue. Your goal is to continue being sober, bettering your life, and growing into the healthiest version of yourself. 

Maintenance plans can include specific therapies or counseling. Sometimes individually, or others in a group setting. Getting a sponsor to be your accountability partner, and encourage you when you need it. Also, attending group meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Finding the right maintenance program can take some time, but it’s necessary for long-term recovery. 

What is the First Step to Treating Alcoholism?

Alcohol Use Disorders are all different, but the first step is always the same. Step 1 is admitting you have a problem. Admit it to yourself, out loud. Then tell a loved one so you have support and accountability. If you don’t feel strong enough to take any steps in getting treatment, ask your loved one to help you. All it takes is a click of a mouse or a phone call. 

Building a Plan

Building a plan to start your journey of recovery from AUD is what our admissions team is here for. You can ask any number of questions you may be thinking of. No question is unable to be answered!  At Absolute Awakenings, we care about your needs and can help you figure out the best course of action. From learning how to cover the cost of AUD treatment, which path is right for you, to how to make the steps into a new life. Call us today and let us help you with your recovery. 

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