Integrate reward-based therapy to tackle alcohol abuse

Posted on May 29th, 2017 in alcohol, Alcohol Abuse, alcohol addiction

Integrate reward-based therapy to tackle alcohol abuse

One of the troubling facts about alcohol is that people who indulge in drinking are likely to have difficulty in controlling their impulses and emotions. As a result, they are likely to make alcohol abuse a habit at an early age. The short- and long-term impacts of alcohol have been linked with numerous risky unintentional and intentional consequences, such as car crashes, falls and burns, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), heart issues, various types of cancers, depression, suicide, etc. The early onset of alcohol use has become a major public health concern due to the increased morbidity and mortality.

However, early identification can help combat the problems arising out of drinking that can pose serious health issues to both patients and their families. The pattern of drinking, past history, family bonding, mental and physical health, etc. can help a medical professional get a comprehensive idea about the patient’s drinking behavior. In fact, a protocol developed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) categorizes alcohol drinkers as at risk, problem drinkers or alcohol dependent.

Contingency management beneficial for both alcohol abuse and mental disorders

Being the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States, alcohol accounted for 88,000 deaths in 2014. However, a recent research has established a low-cost treatment for alcohol abuse. According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, offering rewards can prove an effective treatment and may eventually turn out as another medical wonder in the field of treatment for approximately 15 million U.S. adults abusing alcohol.

During the study, the intervention treatment awarded patients with prizes and gifts for treatment attendance and negative urine test results, such as shampoo, soap, etc. People suffering from serious mental illnesses from the Seattle area, where the lifespan was estimated to be between 20 and 25 years, were studied. One of the surprising favorable consequences of the intervention treatment was that the tobacco and drug use among the participants decreased incredibly.

Dr. Michael McDonell, an associate professor in Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, expressed that the findings suggest that rewards, also known as contingency management in the field of health research, is a feasible approach for all alcohol-related problems. He further suggests that the above intervention will be particularly effective in treating people with serious mental issues, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, which high-cost and not so engaging treatments. This can prove to be a blessing for rural areas and low-cost settings grappling with the challenges due to the expensive treatment programs for both substance abuse and mental health.

Reward decreases scope of alcohol use

Though contingency management has proved effective in case of drug abuse in earlier studies, it has now emerged as a significant intervention for both substance abuse and mental health cases. Unfortunately, only 12 percent of the participants diagnosed with mental issues and at the same time abuse alcohol received treatment for both the conditions in parallel. The majority had to undergo separate treatments that decreased the scope of witnessing successful outcomes.

As in the above study, the idea of giving out prizes not only added the element of fun in the treatment but also motivated people new to recovery. The study comprised 79 outpatients, and about half of them were intervened with a 12-week reward for addiction treatment attendance and negative urine test results for alcohol use. The other members assigned to a control group were rewarded irrespective of the test outcomes and treatment attendance.

Interestingly, participants in the reward group were three times less likely to detect with positive alcohol use compared to the control group. In fact, they were also identified with low positive results for tobacco and cocaine use compared to the control participants.

Recovery road map

Alcohol abuse is no less than an epidemic in the U.S., with nearly 12 percent of children living with a parent addicted to substances. Considering the above facts, it is important to know that no amount of alcohol is safe for the body and “responsible drinking” is a myth.

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, contact the Arizona Alcohol Addiction Helpline to find out one of the top alcohol addiction treatment centers in Arizona. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-671-1510 or chat online to know about the best alcohol addiction treatment clinic in Arizona.

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