It’s hard to believe, but 100 short years ago, there weren’t many treatments for alcoholism. Millions of people suffered mightily for decades, died from the disease, and never knew that there were potential answers in the world. That’s because at the time, there truly weren’t many treatments for alcoholism. People erroneously believed that alcoholism was a result of lack of willpower. It was believed that some people just liked to drink and didn’t have the willpower to stop even if it was causing them enormous problems in their lives. Today, we know better. Other treatments for alcoholism have emerged that have helped millions recover and continue a plan of aftercare.
Evidence Based Treatment for Substance Abuse is currently the most accepted model of alcoholism treatment that we have. And 12-step programs and the like also take these treatments into account and incorporate them in ways that are also compatible with the spiritual nature of the 12-step programs. Counselors use evidence based treatment for one simple reason: It works better than other models. Over time, scientists learned that alcoholism wasn’t just a lack of willpower, but instead a powerful physical malady that is often too weak to be detected until it is already in full force and difficult to stop.
Detox local programs almost always incorporate some form of evidence based treatment into their regimens. Why? Because they’ve been proven to work time and time again. Scientists have done more research in the last several decades that examines addiction and the treatments that work and don’t work. Compare that to 100 years ago when there was simply almost no treatment at all except to institutionalize an alcoholic and wait for the inevitable. Even a half century ago, there was little else but AA to help alcoholics recover (not that this was a bad thing). Today there isn’t just AA but a host of other solutions that help to defend against dreaded instances of relapse.
Detoxing from alcohol is just the beginning of treatment. Many alcoholics go into a detox, get sober, and then go back out again, only to find themselves drunk a short time later. Scientists have been examining WHY this happens for over a hundred years now, but it’s only in the last few decades that they’ve come up with some very solid research and solutions to the dilemma. The fact is that relapse is common even in worst case scenario alcoholism. Many alcoholics need extended treatment and sometimes lifelong recovery strategies in order to sustain their recovery. While relapse is common, it is always a tragedy and need not ever happen with more persistent treatments and sustained effort.
Evidence based recovery strategies look at the science of alcoholism and the way alcohol works on the human brain to change its chemistry and properties. By studying brain chemistry, alcoholic behavior, and treatment responses, scientists learn more about alcoholism than ever before and are able to devise strategies that save lives each and every year. Alcoholism has long been a mysterious physical ailment, and until the last several decades, scientists had a poor understanding of the underlying mechanisms behind alcoholism and the way that they affect people physically, mentally, and even spiritually. With the latest scientific experiments, those in the scientific community have a better understanding of alcoholism than ever before, and this brings an enormous amount of hope for those who devise new treatments.
The first step of any treatment plan is the realization that there is a problem in the first place. It can take an alcoholic many months or years to realize that alcohol is the culprit behind their life’s problems. Frequently denial comes into play during the early stages, as alcoholics struggle to blame mounting problems on other things so that they can continue drinking. Once the realization occurs that there is a problem, though, it’s possible for that alcoholic to finally turn to outpatient or inpatient treatments for help.
Scientists work hard daily to contribute more to our body of knowledge about alcoholism. It’s an uphill battle and a complex medical condition. Now that the scientific community is looking for more evidence based approaches, though, progress is quickly occurring in this field, and more alcoholics than ever before can look forward to a hopeful future where there is a solution. The first step is always asking for help. If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol, there is an evidence based treatment out there to help.