Why Treating Alcohol Use Disorder Requires a Unique Approach

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition characterized by drinking more than you intend to for longer than you intend to. As opposed to other terms to describe unhealthy drinking, like alcoholism, alcohol use disorder is clinically diagnosable and the preferred term by medical professionals.

Just like other medical conditions, there are several treatment modalities proven to be effective in treating alcohol use disorder. The key to these treatments is that they are designed uniquely to treat AUD. When people receive holistic care that addresses all the dimensions of AUD and find a recovery community, they are more likely to make meaningful and sustainable progress. Let’s take a closer look at why AUD-specific treatment is so crucial.  

The Unique Nature of AUD

AUD is a biopsychosocial condition, meaning that it’s influenced by biological, psychological, and social factors. This can include one’s genetics, childhood trauma, co-occurring mental health conditions, and culture. Because of this, it’s important that those diagnosed with AUD receive comprehensive treatment that addresses each of the underlying factors that contribute to their unhealthy alcohol use. 

Alcohol use disorder can affect each individual differently, emphasizing the need for personalized care. For one, AUD is diagnosed on a spectrum ranging from mild, moderate and severe. Many people show outward signs of AUD, while others can appear high-functioning and hide their alcohol use. Some people with AUD may also be at risk for alcohol withdrawal, and require special medical care in order to stop drinking safely. 

Cultural norms surrounding alcohol can also make recovering from AUD particularly challenging. The prevalent role that alcohol often plays in social activities, work-related happy hours, and other celebrations can often make these environments hard to navigate for those abstaining from alcohol or trying to moderate These norms can prevent people from seeking treatment.

Attempting to treat AUD in a general way obscures these unique qualities of the condition and compromises the effectiveness of the treatment. Let’s review what a tailored approach looks like.

counselor taking notes with a patient

The Importance of Tailored Solutions

A combination of peer support, medication, and specialized therapy is considered the medical gold standard in alcohol use disorder treatment. It’s invaluable for someone with AUD to get to share experiences and get support from others navigating similar challenges. Knowing you’re not alone in a culture that normalizes drinking can make all the difference. Medication is also a tailored treatment solution. There are FDA-approved medications to stop drinking, such as naltrexone. Naltrexone blocks endorphin receptors so that you get less pleasure from drinking alcohol. Over time this can help curb alcohol cravings. Many people with AUD aren’t initially informed about this medication, and wish they’d heard about it sooner. 

Lastly, working with a therapist who has experience helping people change their drinking is a very effective treatment. Therapists use tools like cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing that are proven to help address unhealthy drinking. Alcohol therapy can help address the underlying reasons causing someone to drink while also teaching strategies for common challenges like alcohol cravings and relapses

The Role of Businesses

Businesses can play a vital role in supporting employees with AUD. Encouraging moderate consumption at company events, de-stigmatizing AUD through company communications, and making AUD-specific treatment accessible through company benefits are just some of the ways to make a difference.

When businesses support their employees in building a healthier relationship with alcohol, the company also benefits. There are many associated costs of alcohol use disorder that affect virtually all companies today. Providing quality care can help reduce these costs and improve employee wellbeing. Monument is an innovative telehealth platform that specializes exclusively in providing evidence-based treatment for alcohol use disorder. If you’re interested in offering Monument to your employees, email partnerships@joinmonument to learn more.

Disclaimer: Our articles and resources do not constitute clinical or licensed therapy or other health care services. If you need counseling or therapy services please contact a licensed provider. If this is a medical emergency, call 911.

About the Author

Randy SmithRandy graduated from Pitzer College with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies. This educational foundation has been instrumental in their approach to content creation, allowing them to craft narratives that are engaging and deeply impactful for readers seeking guidance and support in their recovery process. Randy has a rich background in media studies and a profound commitment to mental health and addiction recovery, making significant contributions to Monument's content strategy. Starting as an Editorial Consultant in October 2020, they quickly rose to a full-time role, leveraging their skills to produce insightful content that resonated with individuals on their recovery journey. As a Content Associate and later as a Content Manager, Randy's work focused on providing resources to help individuals understand and navigate the challenges of sobriety. Collaborating with licensed therapists, they developed articles that were informative but also empathetic and supportive. Randy's pieces, particularly on managing sobriety during holidays and overcoming self-sabotaging behaviors, have been invaluable in guiding many towards positive steps in their treatment journey. Randy's tenure at Monument was marked by a deep dedication to empowering individuals with the knowledge and tools necessary for recovery. Their work in content management played a pivotal role in shaping the narrative around addiction recovery, offering hope and practical advice to those in need.