Alcoholism Cure

In 1956, the American Medical Association (AMA) initially declared that alcoholism was an illness, but it was not until 1991 that they further classified the condition as both a psychiatric and medical disorder.

Because alcohol is such a socially acceptable substance of abuse, many people find it hard to believe that alcoholism – especially chronic alcoholism – is a disease. Alcoholism is considered an illness because of the similarities it generally shares with most chronic illnesses.

Modern theory postulates that alcoholism can be described as a drinking problem that can be caused by a disease of the brain and that it is characterized by altered brain function and structure. Alcoholism is also thought to be a disease, due to the elements of heritability it possesses. That is, there is a genetic component to alcoholism that makes it possible for it to be passed down from generation to generation.

Another characteristic that identifies alcoholism as a disease is that it’s a condition with symptoms that can actually be identified and diagnosed. With professional treatment, the symptoms and the condition itself can be effectively managed. Treatment options for alcoholism typically consist of therapy, cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT), as well as medication in instances where the disease is severe.

As with any other disease, if alcoholism isn’t properly treated, the patient will suffer a relapse and their condition might worsen. Unlike a number of other diseases, alcoholism doesn’t have a final cure. It can be effectively managed by participating in rehab programmes or joining therapy groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. This will help stay focused on sobriety and greatly minimize the chances of a relapse.

To summarise, alcoholism is considered a disease due to the presence of the following characteristics:

  • It is symptomatic.
  • It is chronic in the sense that it doesn’t remit or heal without treatment.
  • The illness exists in and of itself.
  • The condition is progressive. That is, it worsens over time.
  • If left untreated, it can prove fatal.

Because alcoholism is a disease with a long-term course, treatment of equal longevity is the best way to address it.

Even though alcoholism is a chronic problem, it doesn’t have to be a lifetime burden that you bear alone. At Addiction Helper, we can provide a variety of treatment options that will not only help you break free of your initial substance dependence, but also help reverse much of the physical or mental damage caused by alcohol abuse. Contact us now on 0800 915 9402 to start the journey towards a full recovery.

Can Alcoholism be cured?

Uncontrolled alcohol consumption over a period of time can lead to alcoholism and physical dependence, which means your body will likely react negatively in the event you suddenly choose to quit drinking. This reaction is referred to as ‘withdrawal ‘and is caused by your body being accustomed to having alcohol in its system and depending on it to function normally. If alcohol is absent from your system in such a scenario, it will lead to withdrawal symptoms, as your body believes it cannot function without the influence of alcohol.

Certain experts propose that alcoholism can be cured and there have been a few recorded cases where former alcoholics claimed they never had cravings for alcohol again after going to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings or receiving other types of treatment. However, certain evidence indicates that such individuals are not bona fide alcoholics, as they didn’t experience withdrawal symptoms upon quitting.

The more overpowering evidence indicates that alcoholism is a lifelong condition. This is clear in how a majority of people who suffer from alcoholism – after going through a range of therapy – still have to spend the rest of their lives managing the condition, instead of experiencing a total cure.

Training and time are the most crucial aspects of treating alcoholism. Even though you might never truly get rid of cravings, treatment can minimize them and train you to avoid triggers, stressors, and other situations that lead to alcohol abuse.

If you or a loved one would like to achieve sobriety and require alcohol treatment, know that Addiction Helper is available round-the-clock and every day of the year to assist. Call our confidential helpline today to speak to one of our compassionate specialists.

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Naltrexone as a cure for Alcoholism

As already stated, there is no wonder drug or miracle cure for alcoholism. However, naltrexone has over the years proven to be very useful in effectively managing the condition. Naltrexone is a drug used in clinical medicine and has the ability to significantly minimize your desire for alcohol. It is commonly found under the brand names Vivitrol or ReVia. Once you choose to quit drinking, naltrexone can be administered to help you maintain sobriety long-term. Though the drug isn’t an absolute cure for alcoholism, it can definitely help you stay off alcohol whilst receiving other forms of medically prescribed treatment.

Alcohol and narcotics can lead to pleasurable sensations when consumed, because of how they influence the chemical structure of your brain. Naltrexone negates such effects by blocking the parts of your brain influenced by intoxicating substances. By blocking these areas, you’ll feel less of a compulsion to abuse alcohol or other substances to get ‘high’ and therefore quit drinking in a much easier fashion. Disulfiram is another drug with a similar capability, but naltrexone is generally preferred because it doesn’t produce side effects such as nausea if you drink alcohol whilst taking it.

Depending on the severity of your alcohol abuse before seeking professional help, your use of naltrexone as a course of treatment can last for 12 weeks or more, but evidence shows that using the drug for up to three months or longer produces the best effects. Make sure to only use naltrexone as prescribed by your doctor to avoid any adverse effects. Aside from pill form, naltrexone is also available as an injection.

Baclofen as a cure for alcoholism

Baclofen is known to be an effective drug for treating multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. It has also come into the spotlight as a possible treatment for alcoholism. Also known by the brand name Lioresal, Baclofen was approved by the FDA in 1977 for treating muscle stiffness, muscle spasms, and back pain. Because baclofen takes effect by influencing the reward pathway of the brain, it’s believed it can help with alcoholism, which also affects the brain’s reward pathway.

The effects of alcoholism are known to worsen over time if the condition isn’t properly managed. Because it takes time for alcohol abuse to do significant damage to the brain and other parts of your physiology, how effective baclofen can be is determined by how long you’ve been abusing alcohol.

Studies on using baclofen to treat alcoholism have yielded diverse results and therefore make it difficult to understand its true effectiveness.

A 2012 two-year study that involved 100 patients indicated that baclofen without any dosage limit could decrease alcohol cravings. However, the effectiveness of the drug during the study was compromised when mental health disorders were discovered among test subjects who were co-currently using psychotropic drugs. Therefore, because most individuals who have a drinking problem also have a co-occurring mental illness, treating alcoholism with baclofen might be limited.

On the other hand, a 2011 study which involved 21 participants saw some of them given a placebo and others baclofen. The results were inconclusive, because most of those in the study group were receiving psychiatric treatment at the same time. That said, many of the test subjects claimed their alcohol cravings were significantly reduced.

Thus, it’s safe to say that while baclofen might be effective for certain individuals, it won’t work for everyone who suffers from alcoholism. If used for treatment, baclofen has the advantage of serving as a powerful anti-craving drug that doesn’t require patients to undergo detoxification before using it. This makes the drug well suited for outpatient treatment of alcoholism.

Keep in mind that baclofen can only be used to manage alcoholism, not cure it.

Nalmefene as a cure for alcoholism

Naltrexone (which is an opioid antagonist) has over the years proven to be very effective in alcohol addiction treatment. However, the partial kappa agonist and mu-opioid antagonist (which Nalmefene is) has also proven to be useful in aiding the treatment of alcoholism. The drug was recently approved by the European Medicines Agency and relevant studies have shown that Nalmefene can significantly reduce alcohol consumption. So far, other tests have also shown Nalmefene to be an effective and safe treatment for alcohol dependence.

The drug can help you quit alcohol by reducing your cravings and urges. However, it works best if prescribed alongside counseling support. Using it as treatment can be ideal for individuals who regularly consume high amounts of alcohol.

The Sinclair Method (TSM) for curing alcoholism

The Sinclair Method makes use of a technique known as ‘Pharmacological Extinction’ to treat alcohol addiction. The treatment procedure often involves using opiate blockers to make habit erasing behaviours out of your habit-forming behaviours. If successful, the treatment will reverse your alcohol cravings to its initial state, prior to the development of addiction. With this treatment, it’s possible to curtail your alcohol consumption to safe levels within a few months and even stop abusing alcohol for good. In order to attain optimal effects from TSM, instructions concerning treatment must be followed to the letter at all times.

TSM requires you to take a tablet within one or two hours before having your first drink of the day. This will continue for the rest of your life, as long as you decide you would like to still enjoy alcohol on occasions. The purpose of the tablet is to chemically disrupt your cravings by interfering with your brain’s reward cycle. This will in time lead to you craving less alcohol.

In the event you fail to use the prescribed medication before consuming your first drink, such an act will likely undo any progress already made with recovery and you’ll relapse to drinking as you did before treatment started. The prescribed drug could be Naltrexone, which can be used without worrying about triggering withdrawal symptoms, while cravings for alcohol reduce and you drink less.

TSM is considered to be effective as it completely blocks the release of endorphins in your body. These endorphins are what normally create pleasure when you drink. By using the drug to block endorphins and thus prevent your reward system from associating alcohol with pleasure or satisfaction, addiction/substance dependence should be unable to develop.

To date, The Sinclair Method has recorded a long-term success rate of 78%, but the treatment is still not wholly accepted in all circles. Studies have shown that TSM can deliver the desired results with or without therapy, which means you can overcome alcohol addiction using TSM without a need for additional rehab. Treatment is typically completed within three to four months.

If your goal is to quit alcohol altogether, one quarter of people who have undergone TSM claim that they’ve become 100% abstinent. If you intend on still consuming alcohol, you’ll need to continue using prescribed medication (before intake), for as long as you choose to keep drinking.

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No Absolute Cure for Alcoholism: Needs to Be Managed

Because alcoholism isn’t yet completely understood by medical professionals, an absolute cure for the disease is still to be developed. An alcoholic can’t be turned into a non-alcoholic by simply prescribing the right medication. The condition can only be effectively managed long-term for as long as the patient wishes to remain alcohol-free.

Alcoholism significantly differs from most other chronic diseases, because it manifests in a manner that’s more psychological than physiological. Therefore, treatment of the condition requires you to first accept that you have a disease and need professional help. One common way in which alcoholism manifests is the addict rejects that they are an alcoholic, which makes it difficult to treat the condition.

For best results, it’s not just the addict who must learn how to manage the condition properly. Family and other loved ones must also be willing to pitch in by changing their own behaviour concerning alcoholism and providing an enabling environment for recovery. Family members can get a valuable insight – as well as benefit from treatment – through individual or family counselling sessions.

Simply put, rather than expect your alcoholism to disappear overnight, you and those around you need to prepare to be dedicated to actively keeping you sober long-term. This can be best accomplished with the help of professionals in the field. Contact Addiction Helper now to find some of the best alcoholism recovery specialists in your area.

When Is It Time for alcoholism Treatment?

Seek treatment for alcoholism as soon as you suspect you might be addicted to alcohol. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms of alcohol addiction, contact us promptly for assistance in finding appropriate care:

  • Drinking more or for longer than you should or intend to
  • You want to quit drinking, but are unable to
  • You spend a lot of time recovering from hangovers or sourcing alcohol
  • Experiencing strong cravings or urges to drink
  • Drinking is beginning to negatively affect other aspects of your life, but you’re still unable to quit
  • Giving up other activities you used to enjoy in favour of drinking
  • Developing risky behaviour whilst under the influence of alcohol, such as drinking and driving
  • Developing an increasing tolerance for alcohol and the need to achieve the desired effect
  • Using alcohol as a coping mechanism
  • Suffering from withdrawal symptoms such as shakiness, nausea, irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, or sweating when you don’t drink

If you’re experiencing any of the above and are still unable to quit alcohol of your own free will, you definitely need professional alcoholism treatment.

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Options for Treatment

The most commonly known method of treatment for alcoholism is the 12-step programme. The 28-day inpatient rehab is also quite popular, but there are other options available. There are even newer treatment methods available, thanks to recent breakthroughs in the field of addiction treatment.

Because each individual is different in a variety of ways and likely has a unique cause for their addiction, the a-one-size-fits-all approach will not work in each case of alcohol addiction. So, it is important to first understand not just the disease, but also the root cause of alcohol addiction, before a suitable course of treatment can be proffered. Some of the most commonly used treatment methods include:

  • Behavioral Treatments: This form of treatment is aimed at using counseling to modify your drinking behavior. It is often led by healthcare professionals and past cases have shown the approach to be quite effective.
  • Medication: Acamprosate, Disulfiram, and Naltrexone are three forms of pharmaceutical medication commonly used for helping people quit or reduce their drinking. The drugs are often prescribed by health professionals or primary care physicians and combined with counseling for optimal effect.
  • Mutual-Support Groups: Examples of mutual support groups are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), as well as other variations of the 12-step programme. Such groups provide support to recovering alcoholics and can be combined with specialized treatment from health professionals.

What FDA-Approved medications are Available?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given its approval to various types of prescription medication to be used in the treatment of alcohol addiction. Using these medications delivers better results when combined with other treatment approaches. Said complementary treatment approaches include: mutual support groups and individual psychotherapy. The medications listed below are best suited to helping alcoholics reduce chances of suffering a relapse or to assist a detox.

  • Disulfiram: This drug is commonly marketed under the brand name Antabuse and is the oldest type of medication used for treating alcoholism. The drug works as a deterrent by intensifying the unpleasantness of withdrawal symptoms like nausea and skin-flushing in the event a recovering alcoholic starts drinking again.
  • Acamprosate: Commonly marketed under the brand name Campral, this minimizes much of the unpleasantness of symptoms that accompany Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome, experienced during the detox process.
  • Naltrexone: Commonly marketed as Revia and Vivitrol, this medication can assist a recovering alcoholic by significantly reducing cravings.

There are other types of medication commonly used for the treatment of alcoholism, but these three are the most trusted and popular of those approved for use by the FDA.

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Starting With a Primary Care Doctor

If you’ve been abusing alcohol for either a long or short period of time and would like to quit, it’s best to begin your recovery progress by first speaking to a primary care physician. Such an expert can provide all the information you need about getting started with alcoholism treatment. A primary care doctor can also perform the following:

  • Help craft a treatment plan
  • Evaluate whether a patient’s drinking pattern is risky
  • Assess overall health
  • Determine if medication is required as part of treatment

For greater convenience, you can contact Addiction Helper on our 24/7 helpline for the same service.

Behavioural Treatments

Behavioural treatment (which is also commonly referred to as alcohol counseling) involves working with a qualified expert to identify and change the behaviors that cause you to abuse alcohol. There are various types of behavioral treatments, but they generally share the following features:

  • Provide you with healthy coping mechanisms and teach you how to avoid stressors or triggers that can lead to a relapse
  • Teach you skills that will help in quitting or reducing drinking
  • Help you develop a strong social support system
  • Work towards accomplishing defined and attainable goals

Counselling for Alcoholism

Counselling is an essential form of therapy that can assist you in overcoming alcohol addiction. It will help you understand the cause of your addiction and will also proffer ways to overcome it. Another benefit of counseling is that it provides a form of support system that will help you stay focused on sobriety, as well as avoid situations that could trigger alcohol cravings.

Behavioural treatments come in diverse forms, but some of the more common include: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Motivational Enhancement Therapy, and Marital and Family Counselling.

Types of Behavioural Treatments

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This form of behavioral therapy can occur either in a one-on-one scenario or in a small group with a therapist. The treatment focuses on identifying triggers or cues that cause you to abuse alcohol. The treatment can also help manage stress that might lead to a relapse. The point of the treatment is to help change the thought processes that cause you to drink excessively. It will also help you develop healthier ways of dealing with stress and triggers that normally drive you to drink.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy: This form of treatment is provided over a short period of time and is designed to strengthen your motivation to quit drinking. The therapy will highlight the advantages and disadvantages of changing your drinking habits and will aid you in building confidence and attaining the skills required to stay sober long-term.
  • Marital and Family Counselling: This form of therapy incorporates family members (such as spouses) into the treatment process. The aim of this is to repair and improve family relationships, so as to build a strong support group that can be useful in maintaining sobriety and abstinence.
  • Brief Interventions: These are short, small group or one-on-one counseling sessions, which are typically time-limited. A counselor will provide personalized feedback and work with you to set goals that will guide you towards changing your drinking habits.

At the end of the day, actually deciding to get treatment is crucial. Without professional treatment and if delayed, alcoholism will only get worse as time passes.

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Tips for Selecting Treatment

Because there are various approaches to treating alcoholism, it is important that you opt for one that best suits your condition and circumstances so that you can achieve long-lasting optimal results. The best way to decide what treatment is right for you is to first understand what each treatment approach has to offer. You can always contact us at Addiction Helper for a friendly chat with regards what treatment will serve you best.

You can also ask the following questions to determine what course of treatment will work best for you:

  • What treatment does the programme offer?

The facility you choose should be familiar with every treatment available, especially the latest methods. This will ensure you don’t end up in a facility that can’t provide personalized treatment or that focuses on a one-size-fits-all approach, which could be detrimental. The treatment facility should also be prepared to provide medication in the event your withdrawal symptoms are severe.

  • Is treatment tailored to the individual?

Personalised treatment is important, because alcoholism varies from person to person. Without therapy that is tailored to your specific needs, you might be unable to achieve full and long-lasting recovery.

  • What is expected of the patient?

This could involve cost of treatment, how long you will receive treatment, and other factors. By understanding what is expected of you, you’ll be able to determine if you can fully commit to treatment.

  • Is treatment success measured?

If a treatment facility doesn’t measure success, it could be difficult to determine if you are actually making any progress.

  • How does the programme handle incidents of relapse?

As much as it’s undesirable, it doesn’t change the fact that relapses do happen. In the event that there is a relapse, the treatment facility should have in place defined measures to handle the relapse and minimise the chances of a repeat episode.

Regardless the facility you choose, you should feel secure and assured that you’re in good hands and will make a full recovery. If a treatment facility doesn’t make you feel comfortable or welcome, it’s probably best to seek treatment elsewhere. This is because a stressful and uncomfortable environment doesn’t make a conducive environment for recovery.

Personalised Medicine

After assessing your condition, health professionals should be able to identify which recovery approach will best suit your alcohol addiction. At the moment, the NIAAA – as well as other establishments – are working on identifying genes and other factors which will help predict how effective a treatment approach will be for each individual. Once perfected, such an approach to determining personalized treatment can optimize how that treatment is administered.

Certain medications which are already approved for other clinical applications are currently showing promise in the treatment of alcohol dependence. For instance, Varenicline, (the anti-smoking drug) is proving valuable in reducing alcohol craving and consumption. Gabapentin (which is used for treating epilepsy and severe pain) is also proving useful in maintaining abstinence from alcohol and reducing heavy drinking. Meanwhile, Topiramate (the anti-epileptic medication) might be able to help people with specific genetic makeup curb problem drinking.

The Importance of Persistence

Quitting alcohol once you’ve developed an addiction isn’t something that can be accomplished overnight. It requires dedication and persistence, as the process is an ongoing one that can last for a lifetime, and setbacks such as relapses are not uncommon.

Because alcohol use disorder amongst long-term alcoholics is often a chronic relapsing disease, persistence is required if you would like to regain control of your life. It is exceedingly rare that an individual never drinks again after completing treatment for the first time. Most likely, you’ll experience various setbacks and find yourself repeatedly trying to quit or cut back. This is all part of the process and you can actually learn from such experiences and keep trying.

This is why you must view alcoholism treatment as a long-term and ongoing process if you really want to stay alcohol-free.

Relapse Is Part of the Process

Relapses are not uncommon among recovering alcoholics, which is why such incidents shouldn’t be thought of as the end of the road, but as a part of the recovery process. People who suffer relapses often experience them during periods of great stress, when their support system fails them, or when constantly exposed to triggers such as peer pressure.

A drinking relapse should be thought of as a temporary setback in the process of making a full recovery. You can always resume the journey to recovery, as long as you have the right professional assistance guiding you. This could be in the form of behavioral therapies, which can help develop skills for avoiding and overcoming triggers that can lead to drinking. You could also benefit from regular check-ups from a treatment provider or medication to help minimise cravings.

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Advice for Friends and Family Members

Caring for a loved one with an alcohol addiction can be a huge and strenuous burden. This is why it is important to ensure you find ways to care for yourself and cope, whilst also caring for a recovering alcoholic. A helpful family member or friend can seek support from other friends, families, colleagues, or a support group. If you begin experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety due to the responsibility of caring for a recovering alcoholic, you’ll likely not be able to help yourself or your loved one if you don’t seek professional assistance (for yourself).

Nonetheless, the role you play in supporting and caring for a loved one is vital, as it can make a key difference between addict actually recovering or suffering relapses. If you are unsure about how to provide support to a loved one who is trying to beat alcoholism, our experts can provide all the insight and resources you need to go about it in the most effective way possible.

As a friend or family providing support, the important thing is to remember to always be patient and compassionate, as overcoming alcoholism is never easy or quick. It is even more difficult for alcoholics whose conditions are especially severe. Also, a word of appreciation, acknowledgment, or motivation will also go a long way toward keeping your loved one focused on staying alcohol-free.

Alcoholism Facts

To help you get a better grasp on what alcoholism is and how it works, here are some useful facts:

  • Alcoholism is a far more common ailment than you believe. Around the world, alcohol is arguably the most abused drug. A 2012 study by the National Institute of Health indicated that more than 7% of American adults suffer from some form of alcohol use disorder. That is roughly 27million individuals.
  • More men than women suffer from alcoholism. One theory for why men enjoy drinking more is that they experience a higher dopamine release than women whilst drinking.
  • Alcoholism can be hereditary. You are four times more likely to develop alcoholism if you have an alcoholic parent or grandparent.
  • 47.9 percent of all cirrhosis deaths in 2013 were alcohol-related.
  • If not properly managed, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be fatal.
  • Alcoholism is progressive, as physical dependence develops over time. However, alcohol poisoning can affect a first-time alcohol abuser, depending on the consumption level
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Looking Ahead: The Future of Treatment

Significant progress has been made and is still ongoing in discovering novel and more effective treatments for alcohol problems. By understanding the root causes of alcoholism in the body and brain, experts around the world are working to identify crucial molecular or cellular structures (referred to as ‘targets’) that might lead to the creation of new alcohol addiction medications.


FAQs

Why Is Alcohol Addictive?

When you drink, dopamine levels in your brain are elevated. This results in a flood of pleasurable sensations from within. Drinking can increase your self-confidence and elevate mood. These feelings and dopamine levels will dissipate as alcohol leaves your bloodstream.

Frequent spikes in dopamine levels due to alcohol abuse can cause your brain to expect the regular presence of alcohol in your system. This will lead it to naturally stop producing dopamine at normal levels, without the help of alcohol. The more you drink, the more tolerant to the substance you’ll become. In turn, this will give rise to substance dependence and addiction, as your body relies on alcohol to function normally.

Once addicted, the moment the effects of alcohol wear off, you may suffer withdrawal symptoms that range from mild to life-threatening.

What Are Heavy Drinking and Binge Drinking?

Heavy drinking is the consumption of high volumes of alcohol over a long period of time. Binge drinking on the other hand is consuming alcohol repeatedly and heavily in a single sitting. Binge drinking often results in blackouts.

How long will it take to be free from alcohol addiction?

How long it takes to overcome alcohol addiction will differ from individual to individual. As an addict, once you quit alcohol, withdrawal symptoms will begin to taper off and reduce in intensity after five to seven days. After the first week, certain psychological side effects may still continue for several weeks if not properly treated.

What is alcohol addiction?

Alcohol addiction is a physical and/or mental dependence on alcoholic substances that can result in withdrawal symptoms if you try to quit drinking. The condition is typically identified by a compulsive physical and psychological need to consume alcohol, even when you know you shouldn’t.

What are the symptoms of alcoholism?

Symptoms of alcoholism generally include:

  • Acknowledgement of side effects or medical complications of alcohol abuse, but still being unable to quit
  • An increased alcohol tolerance and a gradual rise in amount of alcohol being consumed
  • Reduced attention to personal and professional responsibilities
  • Repeated unsuccessful efforts to reduce alcohol consumption
  • Significant hangovers and need for more time to recover from the after-effects of alcohol abuse
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to consume alcohol

Will I be able to quit alcohol?

Yes. With professional assistance, you can successfully quit alcohol. A full recovery from alcohol addiction will usually require a medically assisted detox, as well as long-term rehab in either an inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment facility.

If you or a loved one are addicted to alcohol, get in touch with us at Addiction Helper today. We have a variety of specialists available that can guide you on the path to making a full recovery, with no complications – and we can do it fast and discreetly. Contact our 24/7 helpline on 0800 915 9402 for confidential advice. You’ll be glad you did!

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