When alcohol is counted as an abused drug, it leads the pack, but not everyone who drinks alcohol is abusing it or addicted to it. That’s one of the things making it difficult for people to decide if they have a problem.
It is true that men are told not to have more than two drinks a day, and women not more than one, but exceeding that amount once in awhile doesn’t mean you have a drinking problem. On the other hand, if you wonder if you have a drinking problem, if you aren’t sure, you probably do.
If you want to find out for sure, the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has created an online Alcohol Treatment Navigator. Its goal is education, not to direct you to a particular treatment but to teach you what to look for. The emphasis is on evidence-based treatment, based on the NIAAA’s own research.
One reason for the Navigator is because the only options most people are aware of are Alcoholics Anonymous or an inpatient alcohol rehab facility, but there are many options based upon the degree of your problem and your personal circumstances, among others.
For example, outpatient treatment — including one-on-one or group therapy — is less disruptive to your life, education and employment than inpatient alcohol, drug or substance abuse treatment. Outpatient counseling, with one-on-one or group therapy, allows a person to maintain much of his or her regular daily routine. Outpatient care may be your best option if you have:
- A less severe alcohol use disorder (AUD)
- A stable living environment
- Supportive friends and family
- Access to transportation
- Relatively good health.
To determine what level of help (and what kind of help) you need, NIAAA suggests an evaluation by a “therapist or medical doctor who has formal training in addiction treatment.”
Even if residential treatment is deemed necessary, there’s more than one tool in the toolbox. One size does not fit all. There are medications that may help. If your AUD is severe, don ‘t try to detox — go cold turkey — on your own, or it could be fatal. Go to an on-site detox facility where your vital signs can be monitored and medical assistance is available if needed.