Understanding Alcoholism Treatment

Alcoholism treatment is rather simple, but the terms and levels of care and treatment options can become confusing.

This article will seek to explain the importance of alcoholism treatment as well as the types of care available.

Alcoholism: A Growing Problem

According to the National Institute of Health, more than 5% of all Americans have an alcohol use disorder (AUD). This means that more than 14 million adults had a problem with alcohol. Unfortunately, only a small percent of those 14 million people will receive treatment. Alcohol is also responsible for around 100,000 deaths each year.

These numbers paint a scarring image of how deadly and widespread alcoholism is. It also stresses the importance of understanding alcoholism, treatment options, and recovery.

Identifying the Problem

People always say that the first step is admitting you have a problem. This is true in most cases. If you are trying to identify a problem with alcohol in yourself or a loved one, see if any of these statements fit their profile:

  • They drink far more than they intend, or drink for a longer period of time
  • They have tried to cut back or stop drinking without success
  • They continue to drink despite negative side effects like depression, anxiety, or health concerns
  • They drink until they blackout or suffer temporary memory loss
  • They drink despite it causing problems with their family or friends
  • They behavior changes drastically while drinking, causing them to be reckless or violent

If you or someone you care about exhibits any of these characteristics, they are likely suffering from an AUD.

Those suffering from AUDs are likely unable to stop using on their own and will need professional help. Detoxing from alcohol can be extremely dangerous and even deadly in some cases. This calls for the need for medically supervised detoxification.

Even those who are able to overcome withdrawal without a medical detox are prone to relapse without structure, therapy and identification of thought processes and behaviors that led them to use.

If you are struggling with alcoholism, it is dangerous to try to stop cold turkey, and most cannot stop without professional help even if they try. Thankfully, treatment options are available to help overcome the barriers of addiction.

Alcoholism Treatment Explained

There are a multitude of different treatment programs and options. Some offer all levels of care, while others specialize in one level of care like detox.

Detox Programs 

If you have a problem with alcohol, stopping drinking abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are severe and dangerous in most cases, but depend on the individual and how long they have been drinking. Detox programs are the first step in treating alcoholism.

Doctors and medical professionals use medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and monitor symptoms of withdrawal. This ensures safety and comfort of those going through detox. Detox is a critical step towards recovery for alcoholics. Following detox, it is recommended to continue treatment in an inpatient program.

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab or treatment is the next step after detox. Some might argue that it is the most crucial part of overcoming alcoholism or addiction. During detox, most people do not feel well enough or mentally stable enough to tackle past issues and really engage in therapy.

After detox, inpatient treatment allows people to really dive deep into therapeutic modalities, individual and group therapy and more. This is where the underlying issues that lead to addiction begin to be addressed. It is through inpatient rehab that clients begin to achieve stability, structure, and overcome mental barriers.

Outpatient Alcoholism Treatment

Outpatient treatment is usually the best option following inpatient, but is sometimes utilized for mild cases of alcoholism that do not require detox or inpatient. Outpatient treatment is a critical part of the step-down process. It allows people to continue treatment and receive therapy while returning to normal life.

Some people attend outpatient treatment multiple times a week, then scale back to once a week after they have regained structure and stability in their life without drugs. The ability to continue meeting with a therapist and build relapse prevention plans and address issues is invaluable.

Alcohol Counseling

Counseling, or therapy, is a major part of the treatment process. It is through counseling that psychological issues, and underlying behavioral issues that led to addiction can be identified. Therapists frequently use cognitive behavioral therapy, and other techniques to identify behavior and thought patterns that result in drug use or alcoholism.


Medications are also a vital part of treatment. While in detox, patients often receive medications to aid in the withdrawal process and prevent discomfort. When people are stripped from alcohol and drugs, their underlying mental issues begin to emerge. These issues are sometimes treated with medications as well.

Medications can also be used to help prevent cravings and relapse for some time after detox. Medical staff work with therapists to identify the best course of actions and make medical recommendations.

Support Groups

12-step support groups are also a valuable part of recovery. The ability to work with others who have faced the same challenges and build a network of sober people in one’s life can be pivotal.

Finding the Best Alcoholism Treatment Option

This article is a basic summary about treatment and some options offered. There are more levels of care and steps to treatment programs that are successful. The most effective treatment programs offer multiple levels of care to provide a true step-down program. This ensures a scaling back into normal life after treatment and increases success rates.

Individualized programs are also beneficial as they are not a one-size-fits all. These programs tailor a treatment plan to each client based on their needs. This helps to provide the highest quality of care for the individual.

Finding the right treatment program can be difficult. At The Recovery Team, we have over two decades of experience treating alcoholism and addiction. Our staff understand alcoholics and their needs. We offer multiple levels of care and individualized programs with evidence based therapies.