Alcohol Use Disorder
What is alcohol use disorder?
Alcohol Use Disorder is the medical diagnosis for what is commonly called alcoholism, although many people with alcohol use disorder do not fit the common stereotype of an “alcoholic.”
According to the National Institute of Health definition, Alcohol Use Disorder is “a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”
Patients with Alcohol Use Disorder often want to stop drinking (due to the negative effects alcohol is having on their life) but are unable to stop or control their drinking. He/she may say “I can’t have just one drink.”
Problems with alcohol use include Alcohol Use Disorder (Alcoholism), binge alcohol use, “heavy” alcohol use, and even sometimes ANY alcohol use such as for patients with health conditions or who take certain medications or have a job that may require total alcohol abstinence.
What is considered problem or binge drinking?
Binge alcohol use involves drinking more than is healthy in a brief period of time. Binge use may or may not indicate a diagnosis of Alcohol Use Disorder. A binge is defined as 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men on one occasion.
“Heavy” alcohol use is defined as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month.
Chronic alcohol use may also result in physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal can be a serious or even life-threatening medical problem, including seizures or delirium tremens, and patients may require medical treatment and supervision to stop alcohol use safely including possible inpatient detoxification.
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment
The Addiction Medicine Services at the Pacific Neuroscience Institute in Santa Monica California is dedicated to the assessment, treatment, and prevention of addiction and substance use issues including problems with drugs, alcohol, and/or prescription medications.
In addition to treating known alcohol addictions, our doctors and clinicians also see many patients who do not have an addiction but need assistance in tapering off prescription medications or have concerns that they may be at risk for addiction in the future.
We can provide consultation in a discrete and non-judgmental setting to help you find out if you do or do not have a problem with alcohol. Whether your problem is addiction or some other issue with a substance, our doctors and clinicians would like to help you be as safe and healthy as possible which may include stopping the substance completely, taking a temporary break from the substance, or changing or reducing your substance use.
Our services include office-based treatment and assessment of addiction and substance use issues.
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment May Include:
- Outpatient visits with our doctor and/or therapist
- Counseling and psychosocial support
- Referrals to additional services and resources in the community.
FDA-approved anti-addiction medications:
- Naltrexone for alcohol use disorder
- Long-acting depot naltrexone (Vivitrol®) for alcohol use disorder.
Clinical Trial using Psychedelic-Assisted Therapy
Dr. Keith Heinzerling and researchers at the Pacific Treatment & Research in Psychedelics (TRIP) Program will be conducting a clinical trial for individuals who want to stop/reduce alcohol intake. This research study is aimed at identifying ways to optimize the counseling and support program for psilocybin-assisted therapy for alcohol use disorder.
Our doctors can help you to decide if a medication is right for treating your problem.
Some patients may be able to complete outpatient detoxification (at home) under our doctor’s supervision, but patients requiring more intensive inpatient detoxification or residential drug/alcohol rehabilitation services will be referred to outside community resources.
Alcohol Screening Tool
If you think you may have a problem with drugs, alcohol, and/or prescription medications, take the following quiz, print out the last page, and bring it in to review with one of our clinicians.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741). Both services are free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency. Learn more on the Lifeline’s website or the Crisis Text Line’s website.