Treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) is patient-centric i.e. adjusted according to the specific needs of each patient. Various factors, with the severity of alcoholism being the most crucial, play a role in determining the most suitable treatment option. So, what is the right treatment for you or a loved one with alcoholism? Scroll down to learn more about levels of care in the treatment of AUD.
Recognizing that addiction affects people differently, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) described different levels of care. For that purpose, they took into consideration several factors such as the patient’s needs, liabilities, obstacles, strengths and assets, support structure, and resources. The main goal of these different options is to provide the best possible treatment option across a continuum of care. Below are described different levels of care in treatment for addictions such as AUD.
This level of care comprises services for people who are at a high risk of developing alcohol use disorder or other forms of SUD. Additionally, these services are also intended for people for whom there is insufficient information to document alcoholism. In other words, people with problematic alcohol use, but who didn’t develop alcohol use disorder, could benefit from these services. Prevention and early intervention help reduce the risk of addiction and the complications it causes.
Outpatient services include regular sessions that address a person’s lifestyle, attitudes and behaviors that would undermine the treatment. The main goal of these services is to help patients with alcoholism achieve long-term or permanent changes in their mental functioning and alcohol-using behavior.
Outpatient services usually rely on psychotherapy sessions, but sometimes a combination of medications and therapy is necessary. The most common therapy approaches include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, solution-focused therapy, and motivational enhancement therapy.
In many cases, Level 2 programs have affiliations with other levels of care. Depending on their specific needs, Level 2 services may also help patients with child care, transportation, and vocational training.
Level 3 services are most suitable for people with alcoholism (or other addictions) who need more structure and a stable living environment while they’re working on their recovery.
This level of care focuses on the medically directed evaluation and treatment of SUD and mental health disorders. The services are administered in an acute inpatient setting. The program is mainly suitable for people whose drinking problem is so severe it requires primary psychiatric, medical, and nursing care.
Level 4 is known as detox, i.e. the first stage in the treatment of addiction. At this point, a patient stops drinking alcohol. Abrupt cessation of drinking can lead to withdrawal syndrome. Detox is performed in a medically supervised setting. Some patients receive medications that reduce the severity of withdrawal syndrome and decrease cravings.
Treatment for alcohol use disorder or other types of addiction includes different levels of care. Healthcare professionals and addiction specialists consider the severity of alcoholism and other factors when recommending the most suitable level of care to their patients. The services in these programs aim to improve patients’ mental health and teach them skills that can support their recovery. Thanks to different levels of care, people with alcoholism can enter the treatment program most suitable for their needs and go from one level to another if or when necessary.