Alcohol Addiction Treatment: How to Stop Drinking

Alcohol addiction is a chronic condition characterized by uncontrollable drinking, regardless of negative life consequences. Fortunately, alcohol addiction treatment can help. There are many types of alcohol rehab programs available, on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. The right program for you depends on your unique needs and preferences.

Signs You May Need Alcohol Addiction Treatment

It can be challenging to know when your drinking has become problematic, which is why it’s helpful to know the signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder so you can seek the appropriate care. Signs you may need alcohol addiction treatment include:1

  • Drinking larger amounts or for longer than planned
  • Continuing alcohol use despite drinking causing or exacerbating physical or psychological problems
  • Using alcohol in hazardous situations, such as while driving
  • Giving up recreational, social, or occupational activities in favor of drinking
  • Continuing alcohol use despite experiencing interpersonal problems caused or worsened by drinking
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at home, school, or work due to alcohol use
  • Experiencing a strong urge to drink alcohol
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining alcohol, drinking, and recovering from its effects
  • Failing to cut down or control drinking despite efforts to do so
  • Needing more and more alcohol to get drunk (tolerance)
  • Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you suddenly stop or reduce drinking (dependence)

If you have exhibited at least two of these signs in the past year, you may be struggling with a mild alcohol addiction. A moderate addiction is characterized by four or five symptoms, and if you have six or more, your alcohol addiction is likely to be severe.1

There is a common misconception that people have to hit “rock bottom” before turning to treatment and support for alcoholism, but that’s far from the truth. In fact, it’s never too early to seek alcohol addiction treatment. Even if you only demonstrate one sign of alcohol use disorder, rehab can help you get on the right path and rectify the issues that were motivating your drinking so that your alcohol use doesn’t progress.

For help finding an alcohol rehab program, call our confidential helpline at 800-926-8143Who Answers?. One of our trained treatment support specialists can assist you.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Options

When comparing alcohol addiction treatment programs, you’ll find that there are two main treatment settings: inpatient and outpatient. They both have their advantages and disadvantages, and the right one for you will depend on many factors, such as cost, structure, insurance coverage, severity of your condition, and more.

Inpatient Rehab

The most intensive treatment setting for alcohol addiction care is inpatient rehab, which involves residing at the facility for the duration of your program. Inpatient programs tend to last anywhere from 30 to 90 days, though treatment stays vary. Throughout your stay, you’ll follow a strict daily routine created by your treatment team, which may involve services and therapies, such as:

  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group counseling and interpersonal process groups
  • Support group meetings
  • Drug education and relapse prevention classes
  • Alternative therapies like art or music therapy
  • Medication management

One of the most significant benefits of inpatient alcohol addiction treatment is that you are able to separate yourself from your drinking environment while you focus on the early stages of your recovery. You won’t be able to give in to temptations to go to the bar or have friends over to drink, and you will be exposed to minimal stressors or triggers.

Although inpatient rehab is a great choice for anyone looking to get sober, it may be particularly beneficial for those who:

  • Have a severe alcohol addiction
  • Have a co-occurring disorder, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Have a medical condition
  • Have a polysubstance addiction
  • have previously dropped out of outpatient care
  • Don’t have a stable support system
  • Don’t have reliable transportation

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Types of Inpatient Programs

Every alcohol addiction treatment program utilizes their own approach when it comes to recovery. Any reputable one is going to use evidence-based practices, therapies, and treatment modalities, but in addition to these evidence-based practices, they may integrate other philosophies or they may specialize in treating a particular demographic. Below are some common types of inpatient alcohol rehabs:

  • Holistic rehab: These programs combine the use of psychotherapy and behavioral therapies with alternative and complementary approaches, such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, Tai chi, and equine therapy. They aim at healing the whole person.
  • Luxury treatment: These programs offer upscale features and amenities for someone who would prefer a resort-like feel to their treatment. This may have features like gourmet meals, Olympic-sized swimming pools, and private rooms.
  • Executive rehab: These programs offer the upscale features of luxury treatment while also offering amenities for executives to continue working, such as private workrooms and high-speed internet.
  • Faith-based care: Some programs integrate religious studies and prayer groups into treatment for those looking for a spiritual component.
  • Demographic-specific rehabs: These programs cater to specific demographics, such as LGBTQIA+ and veterans, who may require a safe and inclusive space to recover.
  • Dual Diagnosis rehab: These programs specialize in treating both alcohol addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or borderline personality disorder.

Outpatient Rehab

When you opt for outpatient alcohol addiction treatment, you attend therapy during the day and return home during non-treatment hours, typically the evening. This option is more flexible than inpatient, giving people the freedom to continue fulfilling everyday obligations while they recover from alcoholism. There are three types of outpatient programs, each varying in intensity and structure. These include:

  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs): The most intensive option, PHPs offer treatment for several hours each day, for between five and seven days per week. This is a good option for someone who wants the structure of inpatient care but while living at home.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs): A step down from PHPs, IOPs offer a few hours of care for about three to five days per week. Many people transition into an IOP after first completing an inpatient program so they can continue getting structured care once they return to their home.
  • Standard outpatient care: The least intensive option, this involves attending counseling one or two times per week. It may be helpful for someone with a milder alcohol addiction.

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Medications Used in Alcohol Addiction Treatment

While attending alcohol addiction treatment, you may be prescribed medication to help you stop drinking and maintain abstinence. These alcohol addiction medications include:2

  • Naltrexone: Binds to and blocks the receptors in the brain responsible for the rewarding effects of alcohol as well as cravings.
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse): Causes unpleasant effects like flushing and irregular heartbeat when you drink alcohol while taking this medication. It requires a patient to be highly motivated, especially in order to comply with taking the medication each day.
  • Acamprosate (Campral): Decreases protracted withdrawal symptoms, such as restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

Therapies for Alcohol Addiction

At an alcohol addiction treatment program, you may receive a combination of evidence-based therapies to help you quit drinking, address underlying issues, improve emotional regulation, cope with stressors, and beyond. Common therapies for alcohol addiction include:2,3

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Explores the link between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so that you can cope with negative emotions and cognitions to avoid alcohol use
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): Improves patient motivation to quit drinking and enter professional treatment by forming a plan, establishing steps to follow that plan, and building confidence
  • Contingency management: Rewards patients for abstinent behaviors like substance-free urine samples by providing them with vouchers or cash
  • Family therapy: Improves family communication and conflict resolution and heals bonds damaged by alcohol use

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How to Choose the Right Alcohol Addiction Treatment Program

Ultimately, your decision is a very personal choice and depends on many factors. But some things you’ll want to take into consideration when choosing the right alcohol addiction treatment program include:

  • Whether you want inpatient or outpatient
  • Whether you require specialized care
  • Whether you want to travel or stay close to home
  • What sort of features and amenities you prefer
  • What the program’s accreditations are
  • What the staff’s credentials are
  • What sort of setting you’d prefer (beach vs. countryside)
  • Whether you need medical detox services
  • Cost of the program
  • Which rehabs accept your insurance
  • The rehab’s visitor policy
  • For help finding an alcohol rehab program for you or someone else, give us a call at 800-926-8143Who Answers?. Change is just a phone call away.

Resources

1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts.
3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2021). Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help.

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