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The Ridge Offers Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment for Mind and Body

April 17, 2024

Drinking alcohol is typically viewed as a social activity, revolving around holidays, parties, sporting events, and even just a night out after work with colleagues.

But often those friendly drinks can turn into an addiction, and alcohol use disorder (AUD) is associated with more than 200 diseases and injury-related conditions. It is estimated there are more than 140,000 alcohol-related deaths annually, with more than $249 billion in economic costs, making alcohol a leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about alcohol use and misuse.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, excessive alcohol use includes:

  • Binge drinking, defined as consuming four or more drinks on an occasion for a woman or five or more drinks on an occasion for a man.
  • Heavy drinking, defined as eight or more drinks per week for a woman or 15 or more drinks per week for a man.

At The Ridge, Hartford HealthCare’s newest inpatient rehabilitation facility, patients are provided with a medically supervised withdrawal process upon check-in, says Martin Bloch, MD, assistant medical director of the Windham facility.

“Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening,” Bloch explains. The brain receptors are depressed by alcohol, and when the alcohol is suddenly removed, it can cause dangerous hyperactivity of the brain. This can lead to seizures or delirium tremens, which can include hallucinations, full body tremors, vomiting, fever, and even seizures.

At The Ridge, new patients first stay on a medical floor, where they are closely monitored and provided with medication to reduce the physical ramifications of withdrawal. If a patient requires more intensive care, such as IVs or cardiac monitoring, they are transferred to an acute care facility like nearby Windham Hospital.

Dr. Bloch notes that withdrawal can seem manageable to someone in the first day or two, but typically symptoms of withdrawal worsen after that initial period. The average stay in the medical wing of The Ridge is four to six days.

Multi-pronged approach

Counseling and other therapies begin upon admission, even during withdrawal management, Dr. Bloch says. It is a less intensive schedule than the rest of the program, but “the more reinforcement patients get from the beginning that they made the right decision the better they do.” Sometimes a patient will get through withdrawal, feel physically better, and think they are all set to return to their life.

“But those triggers are still there,” Bloch says. “Here, we provide the support they need, the nursing, the counseling.”

Dr. Bloch notes that there are two psychiatric nurse practitioners on staff at The Ridge because “half the people in alcohol rehabilitation have a co-occurring psychiatric disorder, including depression, anxiety or PTSD. So, we treat those and whatever medical needs they have, like high blood pressure or diabetes, as well.”

An important part of treatment at The Ridge is the Recovery Support Specialists, Dr. Bloch says. These are trained individuals who are in recovery themselves. By sharing their lived experience, they can help new patients better understand the journey they have begun.

“We are redefining addiction care for people in Connecticut,” Dr. Bloch says of The Ridge. “We offer patient-centered care and a humanistic approach. People come to us when they are in crisis, and we meet them where they are.”

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