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Getting help for an alcohol problem will give you or your loved one the opportunity to live a healthier and more productive life. Making a change takes courage and persistence, but can be incredibly rewarding. You are not alone on this path and an Alaska 2-1-1 Information and Referral Specialist is always just a phone call away. Dial 2-1-1 or 1-800-478-2221.

How is Alcoholism Treated?

Treatment options for alcoholism vary, based on the individual’s health needs and stage of alcohol dependency. For long-term heavy drinkers, safe alcohol detoxification will likely require medical supervision. Keep in mind there is no successful one-size-fits-all approach to recovery. We are here to help you navigate the appropriate treatment process and assist in determining which options and programs available will help you reach your health and wellness goals.

A number of factors need to be considered before choosing a treatment program, such as how long the individual has been an alcoholic, whether or not the individual will need housing for dependents and whether or not there are physical or mental health issues that need to be treated or addressed in addition to the alcoholism. It is important to research the program options in order to understand their distinct methods, approaches to treatment, ways they measure success and what the expectations of the patients or program participants will be.

Finally, learn what the cost and time commitment is for each program. It may seem like hard work, but we are here to help you sort through the many options.

Alcohol Treatment Programs in Alaska

There is a wide range of alcohol treatment and recovery programs in Alaska. Types of programs include residential and outpatient programs; counseling services for individuals, groups or families; specialized treatment programs for women, teenagers and young adults; rehabilitation programs with combined treatment for mental health and substance abuse; and long-term support groups for addicts and their loved ones.

The following are some of the treatment options available to individuals seeking help with an alcohol problem:

At-risk individuals who do not meet diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder can receive assessment and education by a provider, reducing their risk of an escalated alcohol problem.

In overcoming alcohol addiction, sobriety can be a daily challenge and recovery a lifelong process. Counseling and support groups can go a long way in providing assistance. Mutual support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous can provide an opportunity to meet and bond with people who face similar struggles with alcohol addiction. Sharing personal experiences, successes and setbacks in a safe, accepting environment can help participants understand that they are not alone on the journey to recovery. Support groups can also help individuals reach personal goals and encourage accountability, and have also been proven to help prevent relapse.

Friends and family can share their concerns by confronting an alcoholic in a planned, professionally directed face-to-face meeting. Interventions are designed to be educational and informative with the goal of communicating to the addict the impacts of his or her problem and providing an opportunity for them to accept help. Interventions are not always successful. It’s important to realize that getting help is a choice that only the addict can make. However, education about the illness and support from loved ones can make the process easier. Counseling and support groups for families, such as Al Anon, serve as a valuable resource to connect people who are affected by the addiction of someone they care about.

Counseling is a form of treatment led by a health professional that can help an individual with an alcohol problem get better. Counseling helps to identify and change the behaviors that lead to drinking. One-on-one counseling is often educational and effective; it can provide individuals with emotional support and help them to develop the skills they need to stop or reduce drinking, set realistic goals and cope with triggers that might lead to relapse.

Also known as intensive outpatient program, or IOP, intensive outpatient treatment is a type of alcohol treatment program that does not require medically supervised detox.

Individuals live at home and participate in daily routines, such as work or family life, while receiving part-time, yet intensive treatment at a facility in the morning or evening. This type of program provides 9 or more hours of service a week to adults and 6 or more hours to adolescents.

A partial hospital program is for individuals not requiring 24-hour care, with the individual receiving treatment, such as group or individual therapy sessions, during the day at a facility. Individuals in this type of treatment continue to live at home and engage in the program 20 or more hours a week.

Individuals in an inpatient or residential treatment program live at the treatment facility and are provided with 24-hour care and supervision. Depending on an individual’s unique needs, there is a range of factors to consider when looking at treatment facilities. Here is a list of helpful questions to ask when researching inpatient or residential treatment options.

     Is there a waiting list? If so, how long is it?

     How long should I expect to be there?

     What types of health insurance are accepted?

     Are there any intake requirements, such as a physical or TB test?

     Is detox available?

     Is it medically assisted?

     If it’s a residential treatment facility, are children allowed?

     Do they treat other addictions or substance abuse disorders alongside alcoholism?

     Do they treat co-occurring disorders (e.g. a behavior health issue such as bipolar depression or schizophrenia in addition to the
     alcohol addiction)?

For a current list of available beds in residential and inpatient treatment facilities in Alaska, please visit State of Alaska DHSS Statewide SUD Residential Treatment Bed Availability website here.

Medication is sometimes prescribed to alcoholics alongside other interventions to help with the detox process or to assist in staying sober and preventing relapse. It can be an effective tool in the recovery process but is not for everyone and should only be used under professional medical supervision. Medications used in the treatment of alcoholism include Antabuse, Baclofen, Chantix and Naltrexone.

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