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Alcohol Continues to Drive Admissions, as Women Try to Overcome Barriers

May 21, 2019

The opioid crisis continues to capture much of the attention in policy-making related to substance use disorders, but the view from the trenches within treatment programs often looks considerably different. The most recent data from Mountainside Treatment Center indicate that 69% of total treatment admissions to the Connecticut facility were alcohol use disorder-related, director of clinical operations Amy Sedgwick tells Addiction Professional.

For women with alcohol use problems, the potential barriers to successful treatment and recovery are many, both prior to and after admission, Sedgwick suggests:

  • Society often sees alcohol use as a reasonable, even endearing, coping strategy for busy mothers. “Drinking wine as a Mom is [portrayed as] funny and cute,” Sedgwick says. “We've confused the true norms.”

  • The decision to enter treatment brings with it a litany of fears for the patient, from creating family turmoil to even losing one's children. For some of these women, a 12-Step or women's support group might represent an optimal first step on a path to wellness, Sedgwick says.

  • After a treatment stay, the relationship with coworkers will take on a different dynamic if alcohol use was part of the corporate culture. At home, there might not always appear to be sufficient time to put into practice the self-care skills learned while in treatment.

Mountainside takes a mind/body/spirit approach to the treatment of alcohol use disorders. Mindfulness-based approaches, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and the Seeking Safety curriculum all are prominent. Sedgwick says the facility also employs all three of the medications approved to treat alcohol use disorder: disulfiram, naltrexone and acamprosate.

One of the biggest hurdles to engaging patients and families remains the dangerous perception that any substance that isn't fentanyl isn't that big of a deal, Sedgwick says.

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