What is the Best Treatment for Alcohol Addiction?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

The best treatment for alcohol addiction is the one that works. Exactly what that is depends on each individual, and there are several treatments that may help end physical and emotional addiction to this powerful drug. Just as important as a specific treatment may be the individual’s desire to quit drinking. Without strong motivation, many people return to drinking because they don’t have sufficient willpower, support, or the readiness to abstain. When an alcoholic has the motivation to succeed, there are a number of treatments that have all been shown to be useful.

Drinking becomes a problem as soon as it negatively affects a person's life and relationships.
Drinking becomes a problem as soon as it negatively affects a person's life and relationships.

Initial treatment for alcohol addiction means quitting drinking in some sort of protected environment. Especially when people have been using alcohol for a long time, the withdrawal process can be physically dangerous and is best not undertaken alone. People recovering can undergo delirium tremens (DTs), which can be life threatening. Thus beginning treatment of alcohol addiction should involve finding a safe place like an alcohol detox center or a hospital so people can be closely monitored the first few days after quitting.

An alcoholic must have the readiness to abstain.
An alcoholic must have the readiness to abstain.

Many people are most attracted to using a center for treatment of alcohol addiction, which can help treat initial withdrawal and then engage people in a program for several weeks to months. People usually live at the center and may have lesser or greater privileges to leave or have visitors, depending on the program. Drug and alcohol treatment facilities can be expensive, and an alternative many people use is to first get medical help for withdrawal and then use free programs like Alcoholics Anonymous to get the ongoing support they need to remain dry.

Most alcoholics won't admit they have a drinking problem.
Most alcoholics won't admit they have a drinking problem.

While Alcoholics Anonymous is peer-led, there are other support groups offering treatment for alcohol addiction, led by therapists or drug and alcohol counselors. Expert guidance in groups may be preferred. Such groups can be particularly helpful when alcoholics suffer from a dual diagnosis, such as a combination of alcohol addiction and mental illness.

A trained professional can help a person overcome alcohol addiction.
A trained professional can help a person overcome alcohol addiction.

When an expert-led group isn’t available, another treatment for alcohol addiction is mental health therapy, where any mental illness, neuroses, or personality disorders can be addressed along with issues of alcoholism. For certain mental illnesses, having a psychiatrist may be vital too, since many alcoholics have used alcohol to cover conditions like depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, and these are best treated with psychiatric medicines. A regular physician could also be of use because there are drugs available that cause illness if combined with alcohol, and some people find these helpful.

Counseling for alcohol addiction often focuses on the social, legal, and personal costs of excessive drinking.
Counseling for alcohol addiction often focuses on the social, legal, and personal costs of excessive drinking.

Generally, recovering alcoholics use more than a single treatment for alcohol addiction. They might attend Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and have a private therapist. Some alcoholics first stay at a center and then use meetings thereafter to support continued sobriety. A number of configurations are possible, but the most important goal is to find the combination that works. Most find they need ongoing support, in some form or another, to stay sober, because alcoholism is both physical and mental. Ending physical addiction generally doesn’t address the ongoing emotional need to drink.

People who frequently drink alcohol shots are susceptible to addiction.
People who frequently drink alcohol shots are susceptible to addiction.
An alcohol addiction may begin with someone who frequently over indulges in social settings.
An alcohol addiction may begin with someone who frequently over indulges in social settings.
Alcohol addiction usually occurs when someone is dealing with an underlying treatment, which requires counseling to treat.
Alcohol addiction usually occurs when someone is dealing with an underlying treatment, which requires counseling to treat.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: