New Guide Describes Alcohol Treatment Options
While an estimated 17 million Americans struggle with problem drinking, only a fraction receive any treatment. No matter how severe the problem may seem, most people with alcohol problems, formally diagnosed as an “alcohol use disorder,” can benefit from some type of treatment.
Now, a new resource from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will help individuals and families understand available treatment options, including those that are effective but underutilized. Developed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health, Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help covers the latest research-based treatments and what to consider when choosing among them.
“The popular concept of alcohol treatment is often limited to knowledge of inpatient rehab or 12-step programs,” said NIAAA Director George Koob, Ph.D.
“In fact there are diverse treatment options of which people may be less aware, many of which can be undertaken with minimal disruption to home and work life. A greater understanding of these options represents an important step toward improving the way we treat alcohol addiction.”
The booklet provides detailed descriptions of the two types of professionally-led treatments shown to benefit people with alcohol use disorders—established behavioral treatments which focus on changing drinking behaviors, and medications, which are often coupled with behavioral treatment. It also includes information about mutual-support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Three medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help people with alcohol problems stop or reduce their drinking and prevent relapse. These medications—naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram— are non-addictive and can be used alone or in combination with behavioral treatment. All can be prescribed by a primary care physician.
In addition to the discussion of treatment options, the guide offers information on:
- Signs of an alcohol problem
- Questions patients can ask their doctors to help guide their treatment choices
- Advice for friends and family
- New medications in development
Order online at http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/treatment/treatment.htm.