Updated: 30 May 2023 & medically reviewed by Dr. Samantha Miller
Detox from alcohol should never be attempted alone. Dedicated alcohol rehab or alcohol treatment centers can provide the support and medical attention needed to stop drinking successfully.
- The reason inpatient alcohol treatment centers are so successful at aiding recovery is that they offer a combination of behavioral treatment and medical management through carefully administered prescription drugs. This pairing is proven to increase recovery rates by up to 50%
- Due to the prevalence of alcohol in western society, recovering addicts need constant help and support with managing triggers. These triggers vary from person to person and also may incorporate co-occurring addictions to other substances
- Whether a person receives inpatient or outpatient care, they will always have access to some form of behavioral therapy. These therapies are designed to help patients manage alcohol addiction, identify root causes of addiction, deal with psychological stress from detox and other effects on mental health, and aid long-term recovery
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Treatment for alcoholism
Alcoholism is the most common form of addiction in America, and as such, there are wide and varied forms of treatment available. An alcohol addiction treatment center is designed to guide people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) through medical detox with fully trained medical professionals on hand to ensure the process is safe and effective. Following this, aftercare treatment includes therapy and counseling to help with ongoing cravings and identify the underlying cause of the addiction.
Due to the prevalence of alcohol in Western society, recovering addicts need constant help and support with managing triggers. These triggers vary from person to person and also may incorporate co-occurring addictions to other substances. Helping addicts manage and control these triggers is a vital part of a treatment center's mission and a measure of their success.
The first step to alcohol recovery
The first part of the recovery process for alcohol addiction is to remove all traces of the substance from the person's system. This is achieved through a process known as detox, whereby the user abstains from the substance until it is completely removed from their body. This often leads to withdrawal, which can be severe for alcoholics. That is why a medically assisted alcohol detox in a dedicated treatment center is always recommended to ensure the user’s withdrawal journey is as safe as possible.
Inpatient alcohol rehab services
As the name suggests, AUD sufferers opting for inpatient treatment will stay in a rehabilitation center full-time throughout their recovery.
The duration of a person's stay at an inpatient facility varies depending on the severity of their addiction. Some inpatient treatments last as little as three to six days and can often run in conjunction with an outpatient program afterward. Other patients require long-term treatment, anywhere between six and twelve months, often at treatment facilities known as therapeutic communities (TCs). TCs are designed to offer highly structured programs that allow the patient to reintegrate into society successfully.
The most beneficial aspect of inpatient and residential treatments is that they remove the addict from triggers and remove the ability to abuse alcohol entirely. If someone is prone to relapse or finds it hard to manage triggers or withdrawal, inpatient facilities provide a safe space free of distractions where they can get the help they need to detox effectively and gain the necessary skills to continue sobriety in the real world. There are medical professionals on hand to monitor health and help with any acute withdrawal symptoms, as well as therapists to assist with identifying the cause of addiction and manage any emotional distress.
Outpatient alcohol rehab services
Outpatient alcohol rehab programs and services come in a range of options depending on patient needs and availability. Some inpatient attendees will transition to outpatient rehab facilities as part of their treatment program.
Partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
Often classed as the most intense form of outpatient care, PHP requires patients to attend a treatment center for up to ten hours a day, most if not all days of the week while living at home. This treatment is beneficial for those who cannot commit to inpatient care, like those with young children, but still require a high level of care and support with their recovery.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
The step down from partial hospitalization programs (often used by PHP patients as the next step) IOP requires patients to attend treatment for up to three hours a day, often for five days a week, with a gradual reduction in attendance as recovery improves.
Standard outpatient treatment (OP)
Standard outpatient treatment usually only requires attendance one to three times a week and can often run in conjunction with support groups. This treatment can vary in intensity and duration but is often used for those who need less support with addiction.
Alcohol addiction medications
The reason inpatient alcohol treatment centers are so successful at aiding recovery is that they offer a combination of behavioral treatment and medical management through carefully administered prescription drugs. This pairing is proven to increase recovery rates by up to 50%.
Different medications are used to manage detoxification and recovery. Some ease the symptoms of acute alcohol withdrawal, others create an adverse physical reaction to alcohol, and some are used to help with the psychological elements of recovery. The most common medication used in alcohol use disorder treatment are:
Naltrexone - used to reduce cravings for alcohol and subdue its pleasurable effects.
Librium - Used to manage seizures and delirium tremens experienced during withdrawal
Vivitrol - an extended-release form of Naltrexone.
Disulfiram - causes severe unpleasant effects such as nausea and vomiting when alcohol is consumed.
Acamprosate - used to reduce alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Behavioral therapies for alcohol abuse
Whether a person receives inpatient or outpatient care, they will always have access to some form of behavioral therapy. These therapies are designed to help patients manage alcohol addiction, identify the root causes of addiction, deal with psychological stress from detox and other effects on mental health, and aid long-term recovery.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
An evidence-based therapy, CBT helps people with alcohol use disorder identify the negative behaviors, thoughts, and habits that led them to addiction. Once these areas are identified, systems for dealing with stresses and triggers are developed, helping the patient cope with cravings and avoiding relapse.
Motivational enhancement therapy
Motivational enhancement therapy helps patients identify the strengths and weaknesses of treatment, make action plans for changing behaviors, increase confidence, and instill skills needed to achieve recovery. This is often a short-term treatment for alcohol abusers who are already on their way to recovery.
Related: Motivational interviewing
Marital and family counseling
Like most forms of substance abuse, alcohol abuse often has a negative impact on the user’s family and loved ones. This form of treatment invites those loved ones to become part of the therapy where appropriate and allows the addict to rebuild damaged relationships, while also tackling other issues that have arisen as a result of alcohol abuse.
These are intermittent counseling sessions that help the patient with their ongoing recovery by providing specific feedback and advice on progress. Read here for more on interventions.
Ongoing recovery from alcohol addiction
Recovery from alcohol addiction does not end after rehab. It is a lifelong pursuit and can be challenging even for those who have been sober for years. The best way to combat ongoing cravings and triggers is to attend a form of aftercare service. Many types of aftercare available for alcohol addiction recovery are extensions of treatments found in inpatient and outpatient facilities. They can often be accessed in conjunction with one another, as long as the care type does not conflict. Aftercare is a crucial part of recovery and is necessary to provide support and prevent relapse. Some of the most common forms of aftercare are as follows:
A stay at a therapeutic community (TC) - a short-term stay at a TC can help recovering addicts support each other and prepare to reenter society.
Individual counseling - can help the patient explore the cause and trigger of their alcohol addiction and provide ongoing coping mechanisms to avoid relapse.
Group therapy - counselor-led treatment that helps small groups of recovering alcoholics collectively with their ongoing recovery.
Mutual support groups - such as 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or non-12 step groups like SMART Recovery.
Complementary or alternative treatments - therapeutic activities such as art or music therapy that offer additional outlets on top of other treatments.
Couples or family counseling - helps rebuild relationships that have been damaged by alcohol abuse and provides safety nets at home for recovering alcoholics.
Finding alcohol addiction treatment near me
While the numbers of Americans struggling with alcohol are still high, more people are seeking help with their addiction every year. As there are so many options for recovery, from residential treatment in a dedicated rehab facility to behavioral therapy, there is no excuse not to seek help with an alcohol use disorder.
If you are ready to take the leap and reclaim your life from alcohol addiction then visit our rehab directory today.