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While the United States is known for its hustle and bustle lifestyles, this is even more so the case for New Yorkers. Busy schedules and hectic routines can easily give way to a cocktail or two at the end of the day. Unfortunately, this nightly routine can become a full-blown drinking disorder for some people. When alcohol use starts to cause problems in other areas of your life, it may be time to consider alcohol rehab. Fortunately, rehab for alcoholism in New York is readily available with various programs and treatment services to meet your specific needs.

What Does Alcohol Do to the Brain?

Not being able to stop drinking on your own can be attributed to the effects alcohol has on the brain over time. Alcohol interacts with two primary neurotransmitters: GABA and glutamate. Neurotransmitters act as chemical messengers. They enable the different areas of the brain to communicate with one another. GABA and glutamate balance each other out, with GABA slowing chemical activities and glutamate speeding up chemical activities.

Alcohol works as a depressant, so it helps increase GABA production. It also decreases glutamate production. These combined effects slow chemical activities in drastic ways. These developments account for why symptoms, such as slurred speech, loss of coordination, and other obvious signs develop during an intoxicated state.

With frequent drinking, alcohol’s effects snowball, causing brain chemical imbalances to develop. The cells that interact with alcohol become less sensitive to its effects, which means you have to drink more to experience alcohol’s desired effect. This becomes a vicious cycle that drives you to drink more. Before long, alcohol dependence, and then addiction, will develop. Alcohol rehab is designed to support the processes that help restore normal chemical balance in the brain.

How Does Alcohol Rehab Work?

When drinking stops, the body’s ability to work normally becomes compromised by alcohol’s effects. Withdrawal effects develop as a result. With moderate to severe alcohol abuse, withdrawal effects can be severe and sometimes life-threatening. The types of symptoms you may experience include:

  • Agitation
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Problems concentrating
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting

Without needed rehab help, these symptoms can make it extremely difficult to maintain sobriety for any time. Alcohol rehab is a treatment process that addresses different stages of recovery, including withdrawal. These stages include detoxification, learning to live and cope without alcohol, and maintaining a sober lifestyle. Each stage prepares you for the next one.

The overall goals of rehab for alcoholism include:

  • Stopping alcohol abuse
  • Treating health issues that develop as a result of drinking
  • Addressing any underlying mental health problems
  • Developing a mindset that supports a sober lifestyle

Stages of Alcohol Rehab

Detoxification

As difficult as it may be, there’s no getting around this first stage of recovery, and doing it right the first time can save you much frustration and heartache. An alcohol rehab facility houses a full staff of doctors, nurses, and clinicians who specialize in treating alcoholism. At the outset, you’ll undergo an evaluation to determine the extent of your condition.

From there, a treatment plan that lists your specific treatment needs and recovery goals will be drafted. Patients receive 24-hour supervision and monitoring to help ensure a safe detox experience. Overall, the detox stage runs anywhere from one week to 28 days, depending on the severity of the problem.

If you’re coming off a moderate or severe drinking problem, medication therapies may also be given to help restore chemical balance in the brain. Medications, such as naltrexone, acamprosate, and clonidine, help with reducing alcohol cravings and relieving uncomfortable withdrawal effects. Once brain chemical imbalances reach a certain point, medication therapies can be critical in getting you through the alcohol detox stage.

Inpatient Rehab

Throughout the alcohol rehab process, your recovery needs will determine the level of care you receive. In cases of severe or chronic alcoholism, the damage done to the body’s systems often causes serious medical and mental health problems. When this is the case, inpatient rehab becomes a necessary next step on your recovery path.

Inpatient rehab typically occurs in a hospital setting since hospitals are best equipped to treat chronic medical problems. Like detox, you’ll receive 24-hour monitoring and supervision. In addition, inpatient facilities provide a structured environment where you’ll undergo various treatment interventions, including medical care, psychotherapy, group therapy, 12-Step support group meetings, nutritional support, and other services. Inpatient stays can run for one to three months, depending on your treatment needs.

Residential Treatment

Long-term alcohol abuse not only creates brain chemical imbalances but also warps the areas of the brain that form your motivations, priorities, and behaviors. These areas are where addiction sets up shop. So even if you stop drinking, these areas of the brain have been programmed to seek out alcohol at all costs. Residential treatment provides you with a training ground for developing the type of mindset and behaviors that can support an alcohol-free lifestyle. After a 30 to 90-day stay in residential treatment, you’ll have developed the daily habits and routines necessary for sober living.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is a logical next step after residential care, but if your drinking problem was mild, to begin with, this stage of alcohol rehab may be your next step after detox. Detox, inpatient, and residential rehab all occur in a live-in treatment environment. With outpatient treatment, you live at home and schedule treatment sessions around your schedule. This arrangement works well for people who have work and family obligations to meet.

Outpatient care provides mainly supportive services that build upon the skills you’ve acquired up to this point. Supportive services offered at this stage include:

  • Medication management
  • Family counseling
  • Relapse prevention training
  • 12-Step support group meetings
  • Individual and group therapy

All in all, rehab for alcoholism in New York offers the levels of treatment support needed to overcome the effects of alcohol abuse in your life, including mental health services. So whether you’re just starting to wonder if alcohol is a problem or you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, it’s never too soon to seek treatment help. Alcohol’s damaging effects only worsen with time, so the sooner action is taken, the better.

But the first step is alcohol detox through a medication-assisted treatment program. Let Ascendant help you on the road to sobriety.

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Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Epiphany Wellness, The Heights Treatment, Infinite Recovery, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed August 30, 2022