Newswise — Despite common stereotypes, alcohol treatment is not limited to attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings or “going to rehab.” A growing number of alcohol-treatment services in the U.S. are available as outpatient sessions with counselors and physicians; and now they can be found through NIAAA's Alcohol Treatment Navigator. These options and other real-world advice will be shared at the 41st annual scientific meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) in San Diego June 17-21.

“Most people think they know what alcohol treatment is, but they’re really only seeing two extremes of the spectrum of options, AA or rehab,” said Lori Ducharme, program director for Health Services Research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “AA and other mutual-help groups are excellent recovery-support services, and quite helpful for people with milder alcohol use disorders (AUDs). Long-term residential rehab programs are a good fit for people with more severe AUDs, and for those who lack stable housing or peer-support networks. But the vast majority of alcohol treatment in the U.S. is delivered in either group or individual outpatient sessions with a licensed professional counselor, and increasingly by physicians who are board-certified in addiction medicine. Most people don’t know these options exist, what they look like, or how to find them.”

Ducharme will provide an overview of contemporary alcohol-treatment options, address the features of good-quality care, and answer audience questions during an RSA roundtable on June 17.

“Some health professionals are also unaware of these options,” added Ducharme. “Addiction treatment has long been segregated from general medical practice, and as a result it’s not something most physicians feel comfortable addressing. Many physicians do not know there are three FDA-approved medications for the treatment of AUDs, and may be uncomfortable prescribing them to their patients.”

During the roundtable, Ducharme will introduce the NIAAA's Alcohol Treatment Navigator, a unique resource to help patients, families, and health professionals learn what they need to know, and what they need to do, to find good-quality alcohol-treatment options. “The Navigator provides step-by-step advice for searching several existing online directories of three different types of treatment options – board-certified addiction physicians, licensed professional therapists, and specialty treatment programs,” she said. “Previously, this full array of options was not well-known to the general public, existing directories were difficult to find and search, and it was unclear how to choose among providers on the basis of quality.”

Ducharme noted that the Navigator does not offer diagnoses or treatment recommendations. “Instead, it teaches patients and their families how to identify their options and make informed choices,” she said. She hopes the resource will help de-mystify alcohol treatment so that consumers can become more confident about the choices they make, and more willing to seek help.

###

Ducharme will address these issues and options on Sunday, June 17 at 3:10 p.m. as part of a roundtable discussion called “What is evidence-based alcohol treatment and how do you find it?” during the RSA 2018 meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.

NIAAA’s Alcohol Treatment Navigator: https://AlcoholTreatment.niaaa.nih.gov