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How to Establish a Treatment Plan for Alcohol Use Disorder

How to Establish a Treatment Plan for Alcohol Use Disorder
Published:
September 1, 2022
|   Updated:
September 23, 2022

For those ready to pursue sobriety, the steps necessary to do so can seem overwhelming. Once you realize that your relationship with alcohol needs to be reevaluated, the possibilities of what comes next may be the reason you don’t actually get help; fear has a way of halting progress. 

Fortunately, finding and completing treatment for those who struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) does not need to invoke alarm or panic. Like anything in life, when equipped with a plan and a drive to complete it, recovery from addiction can be possible. Finding a treatment plan that works for each individual is crucial. Hopefully, this example will prove that with hard work, and a desire to heal, sobriety is possible for anyone.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is considered a chronic illness or medical condition in which an individual is dependent on alcohol. It is more colloquially referred to as “alcoholism” Other terms used in its place are alcohol abuse, dependence, or addiction. 

It is crucial to understand that AUD is considered a chronic illness and therefore requires treatment as such. Comprehending that AUD is a chronic disease helps both those in recovery and medical professionals understand what treatments are necessary for life-long sobriety.

The Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

The Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder - Soberlink

If you are currently contemplating whether alcohol treatment is for you, there are symptoms associated with Alcohol Use Disorder that may push you in that direction. If you suffer from alcohol addiction, you may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

Behavioral Symptoms

A drastic change in character or behavior may be a sign of alcohol abuse or AUD. Possible symptoms include:

  • Drinking alone, often, and/or at inappropriate times, like at work or first thing in the morning.
  • Avoiding other people or a negative change in your relationships, specifically due to the evasion of friends and family.
  • Having poor performance at your place of work or school.
  • Using alcohol unsafely, like while driving.
  • Grabbing alcohol as a coping mechanism.
  • Experiencing a heightened sense of anxiety or depression.

Physical Symptoms

A change in your health and physical being may be another signal that you are struggling with AUD or alcohol abuse. Possible physical symptoms include:

  • Physical dependence on alcohol may result in shaking, nausea, and/or other physical symptoms associated with withdrawal.
  • Experiencing bloating, discoloration, or sunken-in skin on the face and neck area.
  • Having bloodshot eyes or a constant glaze in your eye.
  • Losing or gaining weight quickly.
  • Feeling extreme exhaustion.
  • Experiencing injuries that have no known cause due to blackouts or loss of memory as a result of drinking.

What is a Treatment Plan?

What is a Treatment Plan? - Soberlink

A treatment plan for Alcohol Use Disorder is essentially an individualized road map that helps lead those with alcohol addictions through treatment and into recovery and sobriety. It acts as a guide for an individual and includes one's goals, treatment tools to help achieve those goals, as well as a timeline.

Though many treatment plans look similar, the most successful ones are individualized to each person. Because each case of AUD is unique, treatment plans must be created on a case-by-case basis.

Treatment plans also have the ability to change– they are not irrevocable. As your recovery ebbs and flows, so will your goals. Therefore, treatment plans have the ability to grow with you through recovery.

They are mostly used in professional settings, like rehabilitation centers. However, they are also an effective tool to utilize on your own if a formal treatment center is not for you.

Ultimately, by including key components of treatment with specific recommendations and goals for each individual, treatment plans can guide the healing of those who struggle with substance abuse.

Key Components of a Treatment Plan

Key Components of a Treatment Plan - Soberlink

It is important to understand the different sectors of a treatment plan. Though each of these key components are necessary, many can be adapted to your specific healing needs. Here is a breakdown of each element that can also act as a sample treatment plan for Alcohol Use Disorder.

1. Evaluation 

Once you decide to enter treatment, the first step many will experience is an evaluation with a medical person or team. This evaluation can happen in many different scenarios.

For example, you will likely receive an evaluation in an inpatient or outpatient treatment center. You may also receive an evaluation in addiction-centered therapy. Regardless, it is a mandatory first step in completing a treatment plan.

The point of the evaluation is to learn about your drinking patterns and habits and helps professionals identify and get to the root of your alcohol dependency. Knowing the “why” behind why you drink can help you heal and find a new “why” when choosing sobriety.

2. Goal Setting

Once you have been evaluated, the next step is setting goals for your treatment. This includes both short- and long-term goals.

Examples of short-term goals include: not drinking for x amount of days, attending your first AA meeting, or purchasing a tool to help with accountability like Soberlink’s remote breathalyzer.

Examples of long-term goals include: completing a rehabilitation program, getting involved in therapy, or staying sober for X amount of time.

Setting both short- and long-term goals can motivate you to keep pursuing recovery, hold you accountable, and help build your self-esteem as you start reaching them.

3. Finding Effective Treatment Tools (ie. Treatment Objectives)

As previously mentioned, AUD is an extremely individualized disease; those who struggle with alcohol abuse all have reasons unique to themselves. Therefore, the tools required to heal from it will also differ from person to person.

The following are effective treatment tools that, when choosing a few or even all of them, and staying accountable to each completion, lifelong recovery is a possibility.

Accountability Tools

Finding Effective Treatment Tools - Accountability Tools

Accountability tools are meant to be used during early recovery to promote sobriety. These tools are often implemented by an individual, but can also be recommended by or shared with an alcohol treatment professional when in recovery.

Rehabilitation Centers

Medical centers that focus on addiction recovery through their programs are called rehabilitation centers. Depending on the center, they promote healing through different approaches, such as group therapy.

Each center is unique, and they can differ in the type of care offered (outpatient vs. inpatient) and length of program (most often 30 or 60 days).

Depending on severity, rehabilitation may be a part of your treatment plan or may be where you form your treatment plan.

Therapy

Though many rehabilitation centers require some form of therapy, you do not need to be admitted to one to find a therapist that can help with substance abuse issues.

Fortunately, some therapists specialize in addiction and leverage Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) in their practice.

Like a rehabilitation center, therapy may actually be where you create your treatment plan, or it may be included as a treatment tool in your recovery journey.

Remote Alcohol Monitoring

Utilizing an alcohol monitoring system like Soberlink’s remote breathalyzer helps strengthen accountability while allowing individuals to share their progress with their recovery coach or treatment professional.

Soberlink’s comprehensive system operates using a scheduled testing method. Once the Monitored Client submits a test, the results are sent to the individual’s Recovery Circle in real-time. Designed with ease-of-use in mind, the system’s Advanced Reporting feature offers easy-to-read reporting that can be shared with friends and family or a medical professional to help foster accountability.

Using remote monitoring tools like Soberlink can help you supplement your recovery journey, helping you to stay accountable while helping those in your network remain informed of any substance abuse. 

Other Treatment Tools

Finding Effective Treatment Tools - Other Treatment Tools

Though sobriety is rarely possible without drive or motivation, other tools involve community that make recovery an easier feat. Without a robust support system in place, hitting your goals may not feel as doable.

Relational Accountability

Finding camaraderie throughout recovery can help an individual feel less alone and understood. When in a judgment-free space, those who struggle with AUD can speak freely about their past, along with their issues regarding alcohol.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Still, the most widely used method for achieving sobriety remains Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). AA is a 12-step program that promotes sobriety through meetings with others who suffer from substance abuse. It is a program that promotes accountability by linking sponsees and sponsors, offering meetings around the world where all are welcome at all times.

The accessibility of the program and its meeting frequency makes AA an effective recovery tool. Even when you are absent from where your usual meeting takes place, you can always find one near you, continuing your progress.

Group Therapy

Group therapy happens most often in rehabilitation centers but not exclusively. Often, these sessions are similar to AA, however they tend to be scheduled and attendees expected. Regardless, it is another safe place to engage with like-minded individuals eager to share recovery antidotes, making it an excellent resource to leverage in your treatment plan.

4. Tracking and Evaluating Progress

The next step of a treatment plan is the consistent tracking and evaluating of your progress. Doing so helps keep you motivated to continue to stay sober and remain consistent in advancing your goals as your recovery progresses.

This step will continue throughout your recovery process, and it is likely not linear. To have success in recovery, it is important to evaluate what has been helping and what tools may be hindering your progress.

This step may be done alone or with a treatment professional/recovery coach throughout your recovery.

5. Arranging Long-Term Care

Arranging Long-Term Care - How to Establish a Treatment Plan for Alcohol Use Disorder

Because AUD is a chronic medical condition, it needs to be managed with the same level of care offered to any other chronic disease. As those with diabetes must be on insulin for the remainder of their lives, individuals who suffer from substance abuse must also expect to treat their condition for the rest of their lives.

Those with AUD are never “healed;” recovery is a lifelong journey. Therefore, setting up long-term care is necessary to remain sober.

Some examples of long-term care are:

  • Finding a therapist that works for you
  • Committing to attending weekly AA meetings and finding a sponsor
  • Investing in an accountability tool, like a Soberlink alcohol monitoring device.

Regardless of what tools work best for you, it is imperative to commit to long-term care to live a successful life of sobriety.

Creating a Treatment Plan

The best treatment plan for you is the one you can best commit to. Of course, no one is perfect, and mistakes happen, but by creating a personalized plan and continuing to push through even when the going gets tough, an alcohol-free life is possible.

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