Treatment For Alcohol Addiction


Even though a cure for alcohol addiction does not currently exist, many top quality alcohol treatment programs exist that can help people who are alcohol dependent recover from their alcoholism.

The bottom line from many perspectives: a cure for alcohol addiction would be a wonderful medical achievement.

If most people who are alcohol dependent would get professional alcohol treatment early enough in the disease, however, they can attain sobriety and start the alcohol recovery process.

Treating alcohol addiction typically includes a combination of counseling, education, support, prescribed medications, and follow-up rehab to help an individual quit drinking.

In fact, this combination may be the current best alcohol treatment scenario.

Stated differently, after treating people and helping them overcome their addiction via medications, education, and support, counseling and follow-up rehab can then teach them how to make the necessary lifestyle changes that will help them avoid an alcohol relapse and remain sober.


What is Alcoholism?

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism and alcohol dependency, is a progressive debilitating disease that involves the following four characteristics:

  • Loss of control: an incapacity to stop drinking alcoholic beverages after the first drink.

  • A strong desire: having a compelling want or urge to drink.

  • Tolerance: the need to drink increasingly more amounts of alcohol in order to get a "buzz" or to get "high."

  • Physical dependence: withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, a headache, "the shakes," nausea, and perspiration when refraining from alcohol.

Treatment for Alcoholism: A Basic Overview

Analogous to other diseases, alcoholism can be overcome with greater scientific exploration efforts, prevention, educational programs, and competent alcohol dependency treatment.

What is the societal benefit of alcoholism treatment? By providing more individuals with access to quality alcoholism treatment, the costly load on society and the financial, psychological, and the physical burden that alcohol addiction places on families can be appreciably reduced.

To be sure, research studies show compelling evidence that effective alcohol addiction counseling methods and alcohol addiction avoidance efforts result in considerable reductions in child abuse, traffic fatalities, cancer, HIV, child abuse, unwanted pregnancy, strokes, crime, and heart disease.

Additionally, efficient rehabilitation for alcoholism and drug abuse improves an individual's mental and physical wellbeing, quality of life, and job performance whereas at the same time reducing involvement with the criminal justice system, drug abuse, and family dysfunction.

As critical as alcohol addiction is, it is fortunate that it can be treated.

Treatment for alcohol addiction normally involves a blending of counseling, doctor-prescribed drugs, and support to help a person abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages.

While most individuals who are alcohol dependent require assistance to recover from their sickness, scientific inquiry has shown that with support and first-rate rehabilitation for alcoholism, many individuals are able to stop drinking alcoholic beverages and salvage their lives.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction: Withdrawal Symptoms

A number of traditional methods exist for treating alcohol addiction withdrawal.

Inasmuch as some of these methodologies use doctor-prescribed drugs, several, quite the reverse, do not.

Interestingly, according to various scientific examination findings, the safest way to treat mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms is without doctor prescribed medications.

Such non-drug detoxification approaches use extended social support and screening throughout the complete withdrawal protocol.

Other non-drug detoxification therapies, as well, utilize vitamin therapy (especially thiamin) and comprehensive nutritional enhancement for treating mild withdrawal indications.

Mild to Moderate Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The following epitomizes mild to moderate physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms that as a rule take place within 6 to 48 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Vomiting

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sleeping obstructions

  • Enlarged or dilated pupils

  • Nausea

  • Clammy skin

  • Sweating (especially on the palms of the hands or on the face)

  • Tremor of the hands

  • Looking pale

  • Abnormal movements

  • Involuntary movements of the eyelids

  • Pulsating headaches

  • Rapid heart rate

Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The following is a list of dangerous, more severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms that normally occur within 48 to 96 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Convulsions

  • Visual hallucinations

  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

  • Fever

  • Seizures

  • Convulsions

  • Muscle tremors

  • Black outs

  • Severe autonomic nervous system overactivity

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction: Well-Known Methodologies

There are many widely used alcohol addiction treatment approaches that are viewed as "mainstream" methods.

The following alcoholism treatment programs and remedies will be discussed: outpatient alcohol addiction treatment and counseling, detoxification, behavioral rehabilitation, therapeutic drugs, residential, inpatient alcohol addiction rehabilitation methods, and family and marital counseling.

Outpatient Alcohol Addiction Counseling

There are multiple counseling methods that teach individuals who are addicted to alcohol how to become sensitive to the situational and psychological "hot buttons" that result in their drinking alcoholic beverages.

Armed with this information, individuals can accordingly learn about the unique ways in which they can manage situations that do not entail the utilization of alcohol.

Not surprisingly, remedies like these are normally offered on an outpatient basis.


Alcohol detoxification is the procedure of letting the body rid itself of alcohol while at the same time controlling the alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a protected environment.

Alcohol detoxification treatment is commonly done under the leadership of a physician and is characteristically the first step used in an alcoholic rehabilitation program.

Detoxification programs are more often than not part of an inpatient alcohol rehabilitation program.

Behavioral Treatments for Alcohol Addiction

Behavioral alcohol addiction treatments usually include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivation Enhancement Therapy, and Alcoholics Anonymous.

It is interesting to note that according to a study administered by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), each of these three behavioral treatment methodologies greatly diminished drinking alcohol in clients the year after treatment.

Despite the fact that all three of these approaches were considered "successful" by the NIAAA, none of them, nevertheless, could be categorized as "the most productive" treatment for alcohol addiction.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)

Alcoholics Anonymous is a mutual support program for recovering alcoholics that is rooted in the 12-steps of recovery that are necessary in order to stay sober.

Assistance and support are provided by the meetings that convene on a regular basis.

Is Alcoholics Anonymous the preeminent stratagem for the rehabilitation of alcohol addiction?

While Alcoholics Anonymous has established itself as an effective alcohol addiction therapeutic tactic, numerous practitioners outside of Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as scores of people within the AA organization, find that Alcoholics Anonymous works best when it is utilized with other types of therapy such as psychotherapy and/or medical care.

Motivation Enhancement Therapy

Motivation Enhancement Therapy (MET) is a systematic therapeutic method that is almost the complete converse of Alcoholics Anonymous in that it uses motivational strategies to produce the client's own change mechanisms.

Some of the fundamental aspects of MET are the following:

  • Providing the client with a range of nontraditional change choices

  • Therapist empathy

  • Helping the client achieve self-efficacy or a sense of optimism

  • Providing feedback on the subject of the individual risks or damage interrelated with the abuse

  • Receiving common sense advice to make healthy life modifications

  • Emphasis on taking personal responsibility for beneficial change

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). There are several variations of cognitive behavior therapy.

Most of them, though, have the following commonalties:

  • CBT is established on stoic philosophy.

  • In CBT, a solid therapeutic relationship is requisite but not the essential focal point for effective therapy.

  • CBT is structured and directive.

  • CBT does not tell patients how they should experience things. More accurately, this style of therapy focuses on helping patients learn how to think more sensibly and effectively.

  • CBT is a mutually shared attempt between the therapist and the client.

  • Homework is a central feature of CBT.

  • CBT uses the Socratic Method. That is, it is rooted on the asking of questions for greater insight.

  • CBT theory and approaches rely on the Inductive Method. This methodology has clients look at their thoughts as hypotheses (or suggested explanations) that can be tested and questioned. If patients discover that their hypotheses are wrong, they can then change their thoughts and feelings to be more in line with reality.

  • CBT is centered on an educational model that views most emotions and behavioral reactions as learned responses. Thus, the therapeutic goal in to help the client unlearn undesirable reactions and emotions and replace them with new and more beneficial ways of reacting and feeling.

  • CBT habitually has therapeutic sessions that are briefer and fewer in number than most other modes of therapy.

  • CBT methodologies are centered on the cognitive model of emotional response. More specifically, if we change the way we feel, we can act and feel better, even if the circumstances do not change.

Therapeutic Drugs

When using therapeutic drugs as an alcohol addiction treatment method, the alcoholic takes doctor-prescribed drugs such as disulfiram (Antabuse) or naltrexone (ReViaT) in an attempt to prevent him or her from returning to drinking alcoholic beverages after he or she has relapsed.

Stated differently, with this method, physicians prescribe drugs to treat alcohol addiction.

For instance, antabuse is a drug given to people who are alcohol dependent that elicits negative outcomes like vomiting, flushing, nausea, or dizziness if alcohol is ingested.

Clearly, antabuse is effectual essentially because it is a realistic deterrent.

Naltrexone (ReViaT), in contrast, targets the brain's reward circuits and is effective because it reduces the strong desire the alcoholic has for alcohol.

Residential Alcohol Treatment methods and Inpatient Alcohol Rehab

The individual normally has to go into a hospital or into a residential alcohol rehabilitation facility and receive inpatient alcohol rehab therapy under the following circumstances:

  • If an individual needs alcohol poisoning counseling.

  • If the individual's withdrawal indicators are severe.

  • If outpatient methods or support-oriented methodologies such as Alcoholics Anonymous are not effective.

  • If there's a requirement for alcoholism AND drug abuse treatment.

Methodologies such as these are earmarked for alcohol addiction inpatients and typically involve doctor-prescribed medications to help the individual get through detox and through the alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a harmless atmosphere.

Family and Marital Counseling

Since the recovery protocol is so uniquely tied to the support the client receives from his or her family, a variety of alcohol addiction programs require family therapy and marital counseling as major components in the alcohol rehabilitation process.

Such therapeutic approaches, what is more, also provide alcohol dependent people with basic community resources, like financial management programs, childcare courses, job training, parenting programs, and legal help.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction: Unconventional Methodologies

While the scientific findings are not definitive, there is a range of uncommon counseling methods for abusive drinking and alcohol addiction that are becoming more conventional, widely used, and more researched.

Examples include the following remedies that have been proposed as "natural" types of alcohol abuse treatment: "Drumming out Drugs," a form of therapy that uses the employment of drumming by patients, the holistic and naturalistic approaches used by time-honored Chinese Medicine, and numerous vitamin and supplement approaches.

As promising as these nontraditional methods are, more research, nonetheless, is mandatory to confirm their effectiveness and to determine if these modes of treatment for alcohol addiction deliver lasting success.

A Cure for Alcohol Addiction?

So far the medical community has not developed a cure for alcohol addiction.

Let's play devil's advocate for a moment. Let us assume that there is in fact a cure for alcohol addiction.

Let us also assume that this cure is a vaccine that can be administered as a shot. What is the likelihood that EVERY alcoholic would take the time and get this vaccine?

From a different perspective, if alcoholism is treated early enough in the disease, alcohol recovery is entirely possible.

If this is the case, this somewhat lessens the urgency for a cure for alcohol addiction.

Conclusion: Treatment For Alcohol Addiction

Is There A Cure For Alcohol Addiction? Even though a cure for alcohol addiction does not currently exist, many alcohol therapeutic approaches and alcoholism rehabilitation and treatment programs, nonetheless, exist that help people who are dependent on alcohol recover from their alcohol addiction.

In short, there is a lot of alcohol addiction treatment information, both online and offline, that is accessible.

Some individuals may ask the following question concerning treating alcohol addiction: "What is the most effective manner of treatment for alcohol addiction?"

Like any chronic affliction, there are different levels and degrees of success regarding the subject of alcohol addiction treatment.

For example, some alcoholics, after therapy, abstain from drinking alcohol and stay sober.

Other individuals who are dependent on alcohol, quite the reverse, experience more or less long periods of sobriety after receiving treatment, and then have an alcoholic relapse.

And still other alcoholics cannot refrain from drinking alcohol for any maintainable period of time, regardless of the type of treatment they have received.

Interestingly, all of these therapeutic outcomes occur with every known type of alcohol addiction rehabilitation.

In any event, concerning alcohol addiction therapy, one thing is apparent: the longer a person refrains from drinking alcohol or always drinks in moderation, the more likely he or she will be able to avoid treatment for alcohol addiction.


The Bottom Line

The bottom line regarding drinking alcohol is this: the more that alcohol is consumed in an abusive manner, the more likely it is that the drinker will become an alcoholic.

If this describes you, be honest with yourself and admit that you have a drinking problem.

Once you have taken this step, consider making it a priority to talk with an alcohol abuse and alcoholism professional about getting alcohol treatment as soon as possible.