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Alcoholism Treatment: Medically-Reviewed Treatment And Rehab For Alcohol Use Disorder And Alcoholism

At Vertava Health of Massachusetts, we offer a variety of treatment services within our alcohol addiction programs that address the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a problem that is estimated to affect millions of people in the United States, including people of varying age groups, income levels, and racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Having a problem with alcohol use can be an isolating experience, and the stigma surrounding alcohol use can often make it difficult for people to reach out for help.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a very small percentage of those who need treatment for alcohol use actually  receive it.

For someone who feels out of control with their drinking, or who has become physically dependent on alcohol, this can present an enormous challenge.

Without professional treatment, recovering from alcohol use can be very difficult. Seeking help for a drinking problem can reduce the risk of relapse and provide the support necessary to address current issues someone is facing as well as the roots of their alcohol use disorder.

What Is Alcoholism?

As described by the NIAAA, alcoholism, or AUD, is a chronic relapsing brain disorder characterized by an impaired ability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. 

Research from the NIAAA estimates that 15 million people in the United States suffer from AUD. Approximately 5.8 percent—or 14.4 million—adults in the United States ages 18 and older had AUD in 2018. This includes 9.2 million men and 5.3 million women. Adolescents can be diagnosed with the disorder as well, and research found that in 2018, an estimated 401,000 adolescents ages 12-17 were determined to have AUD. Many of these people require treatment programs to help them quit.

How Do I Know If I’m Suffering From Alcohol Addiction?

A diagnosis of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder may be given to someone whose drinking patterns begin to negatively affect every aspect of their life. However, this addiction is not always easy to determine.

Research from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has determined that anyone who meets 2 of the 11 following criteria within 12 months may be diagnosed with alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder.

To accurately assess whether you or a loved one may be suffering from a problem with alcohol, here are some questions to consider. In the past year, have you:

  • Had times when you ended up drinking more, or longer than you intended?
  • More than once wanted to cut down or stop drinking or tried to, but couldn’t?
  • Spent a lot of time drinking? Or being sick or getting over the aftereffects?
  • Experienced craving, a strong need, or urge, to drink?
  • Found that drinking, or being sick from drinking, often interfered with taking care of your home or family? Or caused job troubles? Or school problems?
  • Continued to drink even though it was causing trouble with your family or friends?
  • Given up or cut back on activities that were important or interesting to you, or gave you pleasure, to drink?
  • Continued to drink even though it was making you feel depressed or anxious or adding to another health problem? Or after having had a memory blackout?
  • Had to drink much more than you once did to get the effect you want? Or found that your usual number of drinks had much less effect than before?
  • Found that when the effects of alcohol were wearing off, you had withdrawal symptoms, such as trouble sleeping, shakiness, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or sweating? Or sensed things that were not there?

If any of these symptoms are things that you or a loved one have experienced, your drinking habits may already be cause for concern. The more symptoms you’ve experienced, the more urgent your need for treatment may be. 

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Alcoholism Symptoms And Risks

The occasional alcohol drinker most likely will not suffer any lasting health effects if they are otherwise healthy. It becomes a different story if we’re discussing a habitually heavy drinker. Chronic alcohol use or alcoholism can have numerous adverse effects on physical and mental health. Some of these effects may include:

Liver Damage:

The job of the liver is to help filter out any toxins in the blood. This includes alcohol. If a person drinks too much, too fast, the liver is unable to keep up with disposing of the toxin in the blood. Alcohol can kill liver cells, leading to a scarring of the liver called cirrhosis. Long-term heavy alcohol use can also cause fatty liver disease, rendering the liver unable to function as well as it should.

Heart Disease:

Alcohol can cause many issues with the heart and circulatory system such as high blood pressure. Studies of heavy drinkers have shown that they are more likely to have cardiovascular issues and an increased risk of dying from heart disease.

Brain and Nervous System Issues:

Drinking alcohol has adverse effects on the neural pathways of the brain. This is the cause of impaired motor control, slurred speech, and memory problems associated with heavy alcohol use. Heavy alcohol use has also been linked to an increased risk of seizures.


Drinking alcohol has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. Because it causes damage to any cells that it comes into contact with, heavy alcohol use can lead to an increased risk of mouth, throat, esophageal, and liver cancer.

Other health risks associated with alcoholism include anemia, digestive issues, gout, infection, and sleep issues.

Alcoholism Treatment

The most effective way to overcome alcohol use is to seek professional treatment through an alcohol rehab center.

Seeking sobriety and obtaining a long-lasting recovery are multi-step processes. Here, at Vertava Health of Massachusetts, we’ve assembled the finest team of addiction professionals so that we can offer you, or your loved one, the epitome of good care. Our program has been created around one guiding force—providing you with the highest caliber of evidence-based drug and alcohol addiction treatment so that you can successfully obtain and maintain a drug-free life.

We recognize that recovery occurs in many ways. For a person to fully emerge from the vicious cycle of addiction and be protected against relapse, they must receive treatment that addresses their physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual health needs.

To do this, we provide a broad spectrum of treatment modalities and best practices that work in conjunction with each other to give you holistic and individualized care.

Treatment for alcohol use will often involve several components that address the physical, mental, and psychological sides of substance use.

Alcohol rehabilitation, also referred to as rehab, programs typically include:

  • Medical detox services (as needed)
  • Individual behavioral counseling
  • Support groups
  • Medication
  • Educational and skill-learning groups
  • Aftercare support

The most important benefit of alcohol treatment is its ability to connect people who are struggling with a strong support system. This can look different for each person, depending on the type of treatment sought and the setting in which they receive treatment.

The type of treatment recommended for someone who is misusing alcohol can depend on several factors, including:

  • the severity of alcohol use
  • duration of alcohol use
  • prior history of alcohol detox or substance use treatment
  • co-occurring mental health problems
  • medical problems
  • types of treatment covered by your insurance
  • other personal factors or needs

Treatment for alcohol use can be received on an outpatient basis or through an inpatient rehab program offered within a treatment center. If someone’s drinking has become serious enough to meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder (AUD), inpatient treatment may be required.

The Dangers Of Unsupervised Alcohol Detox

As a person progresses from substance use to addiction, the toxic overload on their body increases, likely creating in greater intensity and frequency a host of health troubles and side effects. Any addiction, whether it be to drugs or alcohol, has the potential to be very dangerous, and in many cases it can even prove fatal. For this reason, the sooner you stop using and begin progressing towards improved health, the better. As soon as you become sober, you’re granting your body and mind a stronger platform on which to heal and build better health.

We never recommend that you or your loved one quit “cold turkey,” as this can be dangerous and even life-threatening, especially in the case of benzodiazepine addiction. Instead, we recommend a medically-supervised detox at a licensed detox facility. Despite the prevalence of literature on the internet or some opinions, detoxing without the supervision of a highly-trained addictions specialist is never a good idea.

We implore you—let Vertava Health of Massachusetts help you do this safely, with the aid of our expert and caring staff.

Detox Under Our Compassionate Care

Second to obtaining treatment, detoxing from the harmful substance you were addicted to is your first step towards sobriety. Our physician-supervised staff will stand by you through this trying time, 24/7, offering you compassionate support so that you progress through detox as comfortably and as safely as possible. Our clinicians will also aid you in fighting off the cravings that can threaten your pursuit of a drug-free life. Detox not only places a burden on your body and brain but on your emotional and mental standing as well; our staff will continuously monitor these states.

At times, you may feel very overwhelmed or experience anxiety, which is one reason why seeking a medically-supervised treatment is so essential. In addition to providing medical support, we have counselors standing by that can offer you distractions, provide you with companionship during this daunting time, and address any worries you might have, while in turn preparing you for the next step. At our detox facility, we aim to make this process as painless as possible by providing as much support as we can. Our compassionate medical professionals will be with you every step of the way.

Sometimes, in more severe instances, and specifically with drugs like strong opioids and alcohol, certain medications may be used to help you better transition through the withdrawal period.

Medication-Assisted Therapies Used At Detox Recovery Centers

Due to the strain that the chemical components of the alcohol have placed on you, some of your body’s delicate systems are not processing correctly. When you use these substances, your body’s physiology and neurochemistry are altered. In the latter case, your brain’s very chemistry has changed. Certain neurotransmitters, important chemical messengers within your brain, have adapted to the influx of the drug within your system.

If you suddenly cease using the addictive substance, your body and brain will react harshly, as they have become dependent on the drug in some capacity to function, resulting in what can, at times, be very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

For example, your brain may have adjusted to a substance being its sole provider of dopamine (a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of relaxation and contentment) and stop producing the chemical on its own. With time, the brain can bounce back and begin producing dopamine on its own again.

Due to these reasons, our specialists may, in some situations, determine that a person be better helped through this period by the aid of medication. We will skillfully and gradually help you progress towards stability, preparing you for the next steps of treatment.

In addition to prescription medications to treat withdrawal and the accompanying agitation, anxiety, and depression that might be present during this time, we may use a variety of non-addictive medications to further help you find an equilibrium and address any other health and medical issues that may stem from your withdrawal.

We may also supplement your health with nutritive support to help give your body better protection and balance after the addiction’s devastating effects.

Once you are safely detoxed from alcohol, treatment at our residential inpatient program can begin.

What Is Residential Treatment Or Inpatient Therapy?

Residential treatment is a type of treatment program that involves living on-site within an addiction treatment facility to participate in a formal schedule of individual and group-based treatment services. We aim to remove the patient from a situation of possible crisis and get them into an environment of compassionate care.

At Vertava Health of Massachusetts, each patient’s residential program schedule is individually tailored to best suit their needs and goals for addiction treatment.

This individualized approach allows for each person entering our program to receive personalized treatment that recognizes the unique aspects of their experience with addiction and any previous treatment history. No two people are the same so no two approaches to treatment should be the same either.

Residential treatment programs can vary in length and in the services they provide. At Vertava Health of Massachusetts, our residential program lasts approximately 30 to 60 days, with the last 10 days dedicated to a seamless transition into outpatient treatment.

The next step down in treatment is our partial hospitalization, or day treatment, program.

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Day Treatment Or Partial Hospitalization

At Vertava Health of Massachusetts, we offer day treatment (also known as partial hospitalization) for addiction which can benefit patients in many different ways. Our partial hospitalization (PHP) program is a type of outpatient care that allows patients to attend programming at our facility during the day while being able to go home at night.

One of the greatest benefits of our partial hospitalization treatment program is that our clients don’t have to spend weeks or months isolated from their loved ones. Receiving organic support from family can be a substantial contributing factor to the success rate of substance use treatment. At Vertava Health of Massachusetts, we realize that everyone deals with addiction issues differently. This is why our individualized approach to your care is so important.

Whether day treatment is the best choice or you’re transitioning from our inpatient program, partial hospitalization at Vertava Health of Massachusetts may be right for you.

Intensive Outpatient Program

Our intensive outpatient program is a step down from our partial hospitalization program (PHP). Through our IOP program, individuals do not live on campus but are required to attend mandatory programming. Among other aspects, our IOP treatment includes weekday programming from 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. After morning sessions, patients spend the rest of their day attending various meetings, receiving job-placement assistance such as resumes and mock interviews, working in town, and sober networking. Weekly medication-assisted treatment (MAT) appointments, individual therapy, and family sessions are included in IOP, as well as group sessions and case management.

When Should Someone Get Help With Treating Alcoholism?

If you are concerned about your drinking and feel unable to control how much or how often you drink, seeking professional treatment is recommended. It is never too early or too late to seek a professional’s opinion.

By seeking the opinion of a professional, or calling a treatment specialist about finding treatment options near you, you can determine a treatment plan together that best suits your needs or those of a loved one.

It’s common for people struggling with alcohol use to be unable to recognize the severity of their problem or feel hesitant about seeking help.

If you or someone you know identifies with any of the following, it may be time to seek treatment:

  • feeling unable to cut down on how much you drink
  • continuing to drink despite it causing financial or personal strain with family, friends, or other loved ones
  • experiencing problems at work or school as a result of your drinking
  • having a physical and/or psychological dependence on alcohol
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms (e.g. nausea, sweating, shakiness, insomnia) once the effects of the alcohol in your system have worn off

Call Now To Quit Drinking And Begin Your Journey Towards Wellness At Vertava Health of Massachusetts

At Vertava Health of Massachusetts, we believe it is never too late for a person to begin their recovery from alcohol use and addiction.

Admitting you need help for your drinking can be scary, but it can also bring you one step closer to building a healthier and more hopeful future.

Vertava Health of Massachusetts offers an integrated approach to treating alcoholism that involves both traditional and holistic therapies to help patients achieve full and lifelong recovery.

By addressing the physical, mental, and emotional sides of alcohol use, we offer an effective path towards healing that is focused on motivation, balance, and personal growth.

Learn more about alcohol use and treatments at Vertava Health of Massachusetts by contacting one of our dedicated treatment specialists today.

Call us at 844-906-0978.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to your body when you stop drinking?

If you’re a heavy drinker, your body will initially react negatively to quitting alcohol. This negative reaction is known as withdrawal. You may break out in cold sweats or have a racing pulse, nausea, vomiting, shaky hands, and intense anxiety. Some people even have seizures or suffer from auditory or visual hallucinations.

Can the brain heal itself from alcohol?

Research has shown that after two weeks of sobriety, the brain can begin to show signs of recovery. However, with advanced alcohol use disorder, it is possible to cause irreversible damage to the brain. If you’re concerned that alcohol use is affecting your brain, it is advisable to seek treatment at a licensed addiction treatment facility.

How do doctors test for alcoholism?

There are no specific physical tests for alcoholism but there are certain health patterns in lab test results that can suggest alcohol damage has occurred in a person’s organs. The only way to determine if a person is suffering from alcoholism is to undergo a psychiatric evaluation from a licensed healthcare professional.

How do you treat alcoholism?

Alcoholism is best treated by healthcare professionals in the healing atmosphere of a recovery center. There are many components to treating alcohol use disorder that include the management of withdrawal symptoms and detox, cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapies, and group therapy.


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