Treatment of Alcoholism and Alcohol Dependence

The most important aspect of treatment of alcoholism is recognition of the problem and referral for treatment.The need to state medical concerns about the level of consumption and the presence of any signs of physical dependence on alcohol is a key component of the intervention. This step does not need to be carried out by a specialist in treatment of alcoholism, but can be done by any concerned health care provider. It is important that additional steps be taken to refer the individual for further treatment as soon as he or she is willing to accept the diagnosis. Patients who have developed physical complications of heavy alcohol consumption, such as cirrhosis, pancreatitis, or gastritis, are often more amenable to beginning treatment. The gastroenterologist has an advantage over other providers in being able to state authoritatively that a medical problem is the result of alcoholism. Using this window of opportunity often makes a difference in the likelihood of an individual beginning therapy for alcoholism. As long as appropriate steps are taken to refer the individual, it is not essential for the gastroenterologist to become personally expert in treating alcoholism.

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