Alcoholism often receives less attention than other types of addiction. Because alcohol is so common, and its consumption is so prevalent in the media, many people don’t realize how dangerous excessive drinking can be. According to the latest statistics from the National Institute of Health (NIH) 45% of adults reported binge drinking in the past month. Additionally, 5.8% of adults have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). More men struggle with alcoholism than women, making it essential to understand the ways drinking affects men and how they can get help.
How Excessive Alcohol Use Affects Men
There are some issues men in particular need to worry about when it comes to alcohol use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that:
- About 58% of men report drinking within the past 30 days.
- About 23% of men report binge drinking five times a month, with an average of eight drinks per session.
- Men are almost twice as likely to binge drink than women.
- About 4.5% of men can be diagnosed with alcohol dependence, as opposed to just 2.5% of women.
Men’s alcohol use leads to a variety of consequences in multiple areas. The CDC also reports that:
- Men have more hospitalizations and deaths related to alcohol than women do.
- Men are about twice as likely to be intoxicated when they are the drivers in fatal motor vehicle accidents.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol increases the likelihood for men to physically assault someone else.
- Men are more likely than women to commit suicide, and they are more likely to have been drinking before making the attempt.
There are a few reasons why men are more likely to experience alcohol addiction. A big part of the explanation is biological. One study found that consumption of alcohol leads to a greater release of dopamine in men. Because dopamine release is part of the brain’s reward and reinforcement system, it causes people to experience greater pleasure from drinking and increases the desire to drink again in the future. There is also a social element, where men are more likely to drink to fit in or impress peers and are expected to be able to “hold their liquor.”
What to Expect as a Patient in an Alcohol Treatment Center
The extra risk of addiction for men means it is critical for them to get treatment for substance misuse as soon as possible. While seeking treatment can be daunting, knowing what to expect at an alcohol rehab in Delaware can help ease worries about the process. The process of recovery begins as soon as a patients enters the facility for check-in.
The step of checking into rehab is all about gathering information on the patient and making sure they are familiar with the treatment process that will follow. Patients typically participate in an interview or fill out a questionnaire to give the treatment team the information they need to create a treatment plan. The questions will address the patient’s history with alcohol and ask about any underlying or co-occurring conditions. The patient may also speak with a physician and get a physical.
Withdrawal is often the biggest obstacle to getting clean and sober. As the body adjusts to the lack of alcohol, it produces a variety of physiological and psychological symptoms that are extremely uncomfortable. The physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in heart rate
Psychological symptoms may include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Insomnia and nightmares
- Mood swings
- Agitation and aggression
The fever, seizures and hallucinations that may come when withdrawing from severe alcohol addiction are the most dangerous symptoms to deal with. A good addiction treatment program will offer options for handling withdrawal as treatment begins.
Withdrawal symptoms are typically worst within the first week of recovery, which can interfere with treatment participation. After the physical symptoms begin to taper off, the psychological symptoms take the spotlight. Both symptoms require a focus on withdrawal management from the rehabilitation program.
Most addiction treatment programs center around behavioral therapy. Quality programs offer more than one type of therapy, as each has its own advantages, and different individuals respond differently to each type. Therapy is designed to help patients understand their motivations and identify triggers for alcohol use. After finding out what causes the behavior, patients can work to develop coping skills that help them change their behavior overall. The following are some of the most common and effective types of therapy.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps patients examine thought patterns and subsequent behavioral responses. Patients can then halt those responses and pivot to healthier behaviors instead of drinking.
- Trauma-focused CBT: Trauma is a very common source of substance misuse behaviors. This type of therapy takes trauma into account and helps patients connect their experiences with their drinking behavior, so they can break the link between the two.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT is especially effective for patients with dual diagnoses. It relies on motivation enhancement and the development of coping skills to address both conditions at the same time.
- Interpersonal therapy: Group therapy is commonly used as a way to promote socialization, while teaching patients to be more open and honest about their addiction.
A mix of different therapies helps address the many facets of alcoholism. Patients should expect to do challenging emotional work in each session to receive the greatest benefit.
After getting clean and beginning therapy, patients should have access to relapse prevention services. These sessions are about preparing for the return to independent living and developing a healthy routine once treatment is over.
Relapse prevention provides patients with information on local community resources that can help in recovery and focuses on applying the coping skills learned through therapy. It should include references to a variety of support groups to promote the development of a strong support network after treatment.
Programs Available for Alcohol Treatment
Addiction is a highly complex condition that develops differently in everyone and affects them in unique ways. That’s why there is no one-size-fits-all treatment format. There are multiple levels of care to consider, each targeted to a different severity of addiction.
Outpatient treatment is a suitable option for those whose history of addiction is short and whose level of addiction is relatively mild. In an outpatient program, patients have the freedom and flexibility to carry on with their everyday lives while receiving vital therapy and support from the program. Patients attend several weekly sessions for a few hours per week and are free to go about their daily business and go home at night.
For people who can’t take a leave of absence from work, school or home duties, outpatient treatment provides a way to get effective help with recovery without overly disrupting important routines.
Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
People who need or want a more intensive treatment experience but do not want to enter a residential program should consider partial hospitalization programs. A PHP has a structure somewhat similar to a work or school day, where the patient attends treatment at the rehab facility for the majority of the day, most days per week. PHPs stop short of residential treatment by allowing patients to return home during the evenings and sleep in their own beds. These programs create more accountability than an outpatient program yet still allow for more flexibility than a residential program.
PHPs are very useful as a step-down option. Someone who completes a residential treatment program may not feel ready to abruptly transition to independent living, and could likely benefit from the middle ground a PHP offers.
Residential or inpatient programs are what people typically picture when they think about alcohol rehab in Delaware and elsewhere. These programs involve the patient leaving home to live at the facility for a specified period of time. Patients live at the facility 24/7, participating in highly structured treatment plans that include therapy and other complementary activities, like sports and art.
Residential treatment is the most comprehensive level of care, combining medical monitoring with around-the-clock recovery activity. There is no temptation and no opportunity to relapse, making residential treatment a good option for those who have struggled with relapse in the past or whose addiction is developed enough that relapse is a serious concern.
Why Treatment for Alcohol Misuse Is Important
Choosing to seek treatment is a struggle for many men. One common reason people decide not to get help with alcohol misuse is a lack of understanding about how dangerous drinking can be. Although moderate drinking within CDC guidelines may be a minimal health risk for some groups, binge drinking and chronic drinking have dramatic negative effects. The long-term effects of excessive drinking may include:
- Memory loss
- Loss of attention span
- Difficulty learning
- Liver damage
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Multiple types of cancer
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
While some of these symptoms are reversible, others are not. The liver, for example, has a great capacity to heal itself — but only up to a certain point. Once the damage spreads too far, scarring becomes permanent and the only way to regain full function is with a transplant.
Alcoholism also has profound psychological effects. Chronic drinking can induce or worsen symptoms of anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions. Additionally, uncontrolled alcohol use almost inevitably leads to worsening addiction.
Many men believe that their drinking is not an issue, or that they can stop whenever they choose. However, addiction is something that can spiral out of control much faster than most people realize. There is no specific threshold for when alcohol addiction becomes “bad enough” to warrant treatment. As soon as someone begins drinking in a pattern indicative of misuse, it’s time to seek help before the problem begins affecting health and happiness.
Benefits of Gateway Smyrna
Gateway Foundation is proud to offer an alcohol rehab Delaware men can trust. Our Smyrna program is located near Dover, in a facility on the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill campus. The program is evidence-based and gender-specific, so men can work through their addiction in a safe environment.
The decision to offer gender-specific treatment for men is rooted in understanding the unique issues men face when it comes to addiction. Fear of being perceived as weak or facing other types of judgment is something many men develop early on that allows addiction to take hold as they struggle in silence. Our men’s programs at Smyrna focus on giving men the support they need to explore complex, intense emotions and be honest with themselves about substance misuse. Some of the advantages of the men’s program include:
- Staff with a deep understanding of the specific problems men face in society and in addiction.
- A cohort of patients who may share gender-specific experiences.
- A safe environment to work through intense feelings.
Our tailored environment allows men to make the most of our treatment options, which include:
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
We also offer medication-assisted treatment, giving patients the opportunity to engage with therapy and other activities with minimized withdrawal symptoms. After treatment is formally over, men have the advantage of being part of the Gateway alumni community. This network of patients who complete treatment provides mutual support to aid in a strong recovery.
Cost of a Continuing Addiction vs. Cost of Treatment
Fear of financial burden is one of the foremost reasons people decide not to consider addiction rehabilitation. Purchasing increasing amounts of alcohol as the addiction develops can quickly start to drain a bank account. Many people struggling with alcoholism experience a progression where they start with a few beers or glasses of wine per week.
Before they know it, they are buying cases of alcohol and find that it is still not affecting them as much as they want. They may then switch to hard liquor, buying more and more to satisfy a growing need to get drunk. It’s not just the cost of the alcohol itself, either, as many states have liquor taxes that bump up the price.
There are other costs to think about, too. Hourly workers who miss shifts due to hangovers, for example, will lose significant income over time. There is also the cost of healthcare associated with alcoholism, whether it’s getting extra sick due to a compromised immune system or something more serious like hospitalization for liver damage.
For those who are worried about cost, Gateway Smyrna takes payment exclusively through Medicaid, making it a smart treatment option for people with coverage.
Take Your First Step Toward Recovery With Gateway Foundation
If you’re a man concerned about your alcohol consumption in Delaware and you’re looking for alcohol treatment facilities near you, Gateway Smyrna can help. Our addiction treatment methods are based on the most current science, and our team provides compassionate care. It’s not easy to admit you need help, and seeking addiction care is a brave choice.
Let Gateway guide you through the first steps to recovery. Give us a call at 877-505-4673, or get more information through our online form.