Person speaks with their mental health treatment provider over the phone

Online Alcohol Treatment

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic brain condition that involves a persistent pattern of compulsive drinking that can have serious consequences on someone’s personal, professional, and social life. AUD can be mild or very serious, and it can affect anyone, no matter their age, gender, or background. Understanding more about alcohol addiction can help you or someone you care about find the support to achieve your alcohol recovery goals.

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a medical condition where a person can’t control or stop drinking alcohol, even when it causes problems in their life. This disorder includes what used to be called alcohol abuse, dependence, addiction, and alcoholism. AUD is diagnosed using criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how many symptoms you may have. Mild means having two or three symptoms, while severe means having six or more. Common symptoms of alcoholism include increased tolerance to alcohol, addiction withdrawal symptoms, unsuccessful efforts to cut down on drinking, and continuing to drink despite its negative impact on your life.

Causes & Risk Factors for Alcohol Addiction

Medication-assisted treatment for alcohol is a comprehensive approach that uses both medicine and counseling to treat alcohol addiction effectively. This treatment works by balancing your brain chemistry, reducing or stopping withdrawal symptoms, and controlling cravings. Together, these can help you stay sober and take back control of your life.

  • Genetic Predisposition: Genetics play a significant role in the development of AUD, with a 40-60% risk of inheriting the disease. This genetic predisposition can affect how the brain reacts to alcohol and lead to cravings and dependence.
  • Psychological Factors: Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often happen along with alcoholism. You may use alcohol as a means of self-medication to lessen the symptoms of these conditions, but this can lead to a cycle of dependence and make mental health issues worse.
  • Environmental and Social Influences: Peer pressure and social norms that encourage excessive drinking can increase the risk of developing a drinking problem. Stressful life events, trauma, and childhood experiences can also contribute to the development of AUD.
  • Age of First Alcohol Use: Research has shown that individuals who begin drinking at an early age, particularly before the age of 15, are at a significantly higher risk of developing AUD later in life. Early alcohol use can have lasting effects on brain development and may contribute to the formation of addictive behaviors.

Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction is crucial for seeking timely intervention and treatment. Some common indicators include:

  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control alcohol consumption
  • Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, drinking, or recovering from the effects of alcohol
  • Experiencing intense cravings or urges to drink
  • Failure to fulfill major responsibilities at work, school, or home due to alcohol use
  • Giving up important activities or hobbies to drink
  • Engaging in risky behavior while under the influence, such as drunk driving
  • Developing a tolerance, requiring increased amounts of alcohol to achieve the desired effect
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when alcohol use is reduced or stopped

Alcohol Use Disorder Criteria

AUD exists on a spectrum, with varying degrees of severity. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), outlines the criteria for diagnosing AUD based on the number of symptoms an individual exhibits. Mild AUD is characterized by the presence of 2-3 symptoms, moderate AUD involves 4-5 symptoms, and severe AUD is diagnosed when an individual displays 6 or more symptoms.

A man looks at his Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) prescription

Long-Term Physical and Psychological Effects of Alcohol Addiction

Chronic alcohol use can seriously affect a person’s physical and mental health.. The long-term effects of alcohol addiction can be harmful and, in some cases, life-threatening.

  • Liver disease: Heavy drinking can lead to various forms of liver disease, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis, which can ultimately result in liver failure.
  • Cardiovascular problems: Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias).
  • Neurological complications: Excessive drinking can damage the brain and nervous system, leading to problems with memory, coordination, and cognitive function, as well as an increased risk of dementia.
  • Bone damage: Alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium and vitamin D, leading to osteoporosis and an increased risk of fractures.
  • Cognitive impairment: Long-term alcohol addiction can lead to impaired memory, attention, and decision-making abilities.
  • Relationship problems: Alcohol addiction can strain personal and professional relationships, leading to social isolation and conflicts.

Outpatient Treatment for Alcoholism

Outpatient treatment for alcoholism offers a flexible approach to recovery, allowing individuals to receive professional support while maintaining their daily routines and responsibilities. This treatment is an effective option for those with mild to moderate alcohol use or as a step-down approach after completing an alcohol detox or residential program.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based approach that combines behavioral therapy with medications to treat alcohol. MAT is effective in reducing cravings, preventing relapse, and promoting long-term recovery.

The FDA has approved several medications for the treatment of AUD:

Addiction Therapy

Addiction counseling is an essential part of treatment for alcohol dependence. It involves various evidence-based approaches that address the psychological, emotional, and behavioral aspects of addiction, helping individuals develop coping strategies, identify and modify negative thought patterns, and build a foundation for long-term recovery. Some of the most common addiction therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, contingency management, trauma therapy, and family therapy.

Peer Support

Peer support plays an important role in the recovery journey. Connecting with others who have experienced similar challenges and are on their own paths to sobriety can provide invaluable support, encouragement, and accountability. At Eleanor Health our Community Recovery Partners have been where you are and are ready to help you maintain sobriety and reduce feelings of isolation. Having a person who has shared similar experiences as you and from whom you can receive advice is particularly helpful during early recovery.

Online Alcohol Treatment by Eleanor Health

Online alcohol treatment has emerged as a convenient and accessible option for individuals seeking support in their alcohol recovery journey. At Eleanor Health, we provide holistic online addiction treatment services with a compassionate approach. We combine the power of medication and therapy to create personalized treatment plans fit to your recovery needs. Contact us by filling out our online form or calling us today to get more information.