Help for Alcoholism


Similar to other diseases, alcoholism can be overcome with competent treatment, increased research, relevant educational programs, and prevention.

That is to say, as crucial as alcoholism is, fortunately it can be treated in most instances.

In a word, help for alcoholism does exist and customarily consists of a mixture 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 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?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol addiction and alcohol dependence, is a progressive debilitating disease that entails the following four warning signs.

  • Craving: having a sound urge or need to drink.

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

  • Loss of control: an inability to stop drinking after the first drink.

  • Physical dependence: withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, "the shakes," anxiety, headaches, and perspiration when abstaining from alcohol.

Help for Alcoholism: A Basic and Essential Outline

Similar to other diseases, alcoholism can be overcome with increased research efforts, prevention, and proper alcohol addiction treatment.

By providing more individuals with access to quality alcoholic treatment, the costly drain on society and the physical, psychological, and financial burdens that alcohol dependency places on families can be drastically diminished.

Indeed, research studies display strong data that productive alcoholism treatment approaches and alcohol addiction prevention efforts result in demonstrative reductions in hearth disease, HIV, child abuse, traffic fatalities, unwanted pregnancy, strokes, crime, and cancer.

Furthermore, excellent treatment for alcoholism and drug abuse improves an individual's quality of life, health, and job performance while at the same time reducing drug use, family dysfunction, and entanglements with the criminal justice system.

As threatening as alcoholism is, fortunately it can be treated.

Treatment for alcoholism usually involves a combination of counseling and alcohol treatment medications to help alcoholics abstain from drinking alcohol.

While most people who are dependent on alcohol need assistance in order to recover from their sickness, scientific exploration has revealed that with support and skillful alcoholism treatment, many alcoholics are able to discontinue drinking and re-establish their lives.

Help for Alcoholism: Withdrawal Symptoms

There are several diverse techniques for treating alcohol dependency withdrawal. Insofar as some of these therapies use medications, several, on the contrary, do not.

It can be emphasized with fascination that according to current research findings, the most harm-free way to treat mild withdrawal symptoms is without drugs.

Such non-drug detoxification attempts use broad social support and screening all the way through the withdrawal process.

Other non-drug detoxification remedies, as well, use vitamin therapy (particularly thiamin) and proper nutrition for treating mild withdrawal symptoms.

Mild to Moderate Withdrawal Symptoms

The following list symbolizes mild to moderate physical withdrawal symptoms that ordinarily occur within 6 to 48 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Loss of appetite

  • Involuntary movements of the eyelids

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

  • Enlarged or dilated pupils

  • Nausea

  • Tremor of the hands Looking pale

  • Vomiting

  • Abnormal movements

  • Sleeping difficulties

  • Pulsating headaches

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Clammy skin

Severe Withdrawal Symptoms

The following is a list of severe symptoms that typically transpire within 48 to 96 hours after the last alcoholic drink:

  • Seizures

  • Fever

  • Visual hallucinations

  • Muscle tremors

  • Black outs

  • Severe autonomic nervous system overactivity

  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

  • Convulsions

Help for Alcoholism: Traditional Treatment Approaches

There is a large quantity of traditional alcoholism treatment methodologies that are considered "conventional" therapies.

The following alcoholism treatment programs and therapies will be mentioned:

  • Outpatient Treatment and Counseling

  • Detoxification

  • Behavioral Treatment

  • Therapeutic Medications

  • Residential Treatment

  • Inpatient Alcohol Rehab

  • Family and Marital Counseling

Outpatient alcoholism Treatment and Counseling. There are quite a few approaches to counseling that reeducate alcoholics how to become mindful of the circumstantial and psychological "hot buttons" that trigger their drinking.

Outfitted with this information, individuals can consequently learn about various ways in which they can grapple with situations that do not necessitate the use of alcohol.

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

Detoxification. Alcohol detoxification is the process of letting the body rid itself of alcohol while regulating the withdrawal symptoms in a harmless environment.

Alcohol Detox treatment is usually done under the administration of a doctor of medicine and is time and again the first step utilized in an alcoholic treatment program.

Detox methodologies, due to the fairly long time needed to complete the process, are frequently part of an inpatient alcohol rehabilitation program.

Behavioral Treatments. These treatment approaches, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivation Enhancement Therapy, and Alcoholics Anonymous, center on changing the problem drinker's behaviors.

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 therapies substantially reduced drinking in clients the year after treatment.

Even though all three of these programs were considered "successful," none of them, nevertheless, could be categorized as "the most effective" treatment for alcohol addiction by the NIAAA.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Alcoholics Anonymous is a mutual support program for recovering alcoholics that is centered on the 12-steps of recovery that are essential in order to stay sober.

Assistance and support are provided by the meetings that congregate on a regular basis. Is Alcoholics Anonymous the most efficient approach for the treatment of alcohol addiction?

While Alcoholics Anonymous has proven to be an successful alcoholism treatment methodology, quite a few practitioners outside of Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as various people within AA find that Alcoholics Anonymous works most effectively when combined with other modes of therapy such as psychotherapy and medical care.

Motivation Enhancement Therapy (MET). MET is a systematic therapeutic approach that is almost the total reverse of Alcoholics Anonymous in that it uses motivational strategies to activate the client's own change mechanisms.

Some of the key aspects of MET are the following:

  • Providing the client with a large quantity of unorthodox change options

  • Assisting the client in the achievement of self-efficacy or a sense of optimism

  • Emphasis on taking individual responsibility for constructive change

  • Receiving instantly recognizable advice to make healthy changes

  • Providing feedback in relation to the personal risks or damage related to the abuse

  • Therapist empathy

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

Most of them, nevertheless, have the following commonalties:

  • CBT is structured and directive.

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

  • CBT methodologies are rooted on the cognitive model of emotional response. That is, if people change the way they think, they can act and function better, even if the situation doesn't change.

  • Homework is a central feature of CBT.

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

  • CBT is centered on stoic philosophy. CBT does not tell clients how they should feel. Rather, this type of therapy focuses on helping clients learn how to think more sensibly and successfully.

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

  • In CBT, a solid therapeutic relationship is necessary but not the primary focal point for valuable therapy.

  • CBT uses the Socratic Method that is centered on the asking of questions for insight.

  • CBT habitually has therapeutic sessions that are briefer and fewer in large quantity than most other types of therapy.

Therapeutic Medications. More than a few medical practitioners and alcoholism research scientists think that chronic alcoholics who cannot sustain their sobriety and individuals who experience severe alcohol withdrawals are prime candidates to receive drug therapy to manage their withdrawal symptoms.

Not only this, but when a drug-oriented alcohol detox protocol is utilized, alcoholics are less likely to experience possible seizures and/or brain damage.

Recent research evidence strongly suggests that the drugs with the highest likelihood of producing effective outcomes when treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms are the benzodiazepines.

Examples include the shorter-acting benzodiazepines such as Ativan and Serax and the longer-acting benzodiazepines such as Librium and Valium.

Historically, when medical practitioners have used benzodiazepines, they have employed a progressive decrease in dosage over the time-frame of the entire withdrawal process.

Furthermore, since the shorter-acting benzodiazepines allow for measurable dose reductions and due to the fact that they do not remain in the person's body for an extreme amount of time, many researchers and practitioners have articulated that intermediate to short half-life benzodiazepines should be utilized in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

After a person overcomes his or her withdrawal symptoms, other doctor-prescribed medications such as disulfiram (Antabuse) or naltrexone (ReViaT) can be prescribed to help prevent the individual from returning to drinking after he or she has suffered a relapse.

For example, antabuse is a drug given to alcoholics that brings out negative effects such as nausea, dizziness, flushing, or vomiting if alcohol is consumed.

Obviously, antabuse is effective basically because it is a clear deterrent. Naltrexone (ReViaT), on the contrary, targets the brain's reward circuits and is helpful because it reduces the craving the alcoholic has for alcohol.

Residential Alcohol Treatment methodologies and Inpatient Alcohol Rehab. If a individual needs alcohol poisoning treatment, if the individual's withdrawal symptoms are excessive, if outpatient methodologies or support-oriented programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are not helpful, or if there's a need for alcohol AND drug abuse treatment, the individual typically has to register into a hospital or a residential alcohol treatment facility and receive inpatient alcohol rehab treatment.

Approaches such as these are earmarked for alcoholism clients and more often than not entail doctor-prescribed medications to help the person get through detoxification and the alcohol withdrawal treatment protocol in a protected manner.

Family and Marital Counseling. Due to the fact that the recovery procedure is so intimately tied to the support the client receives from his or her family, a number of alcohol dependency approaches require family therapy and marital counseling as key aspects in the treatment protocol.

Such therapeutic programs, in addition, also provide alcoholics with fundamental community resources, like financial management classes, childcare courses, job training, parenting courses of instruction, and legal assistance.

Help for Alcoholism: Unusual Therapies

Even though the research findings are not definitive, there is a range of alternative treatment methods for alcohol addiction that are becoming more typical, available, and more researched.

Illustrations include the following therapies that have been proposed as "natural" varieties of alcohol abuse treatment:

  • Various vitamin and supplement therapies

  • "Drumming out Drugs" (a form of therapy that employs the use of drumming by patients)

  • The holistic and naturalistic methodologies used by Traditional Chinese Medicine

As encouraging as these alternative approaches are, more research, on the other hand, is required to establish their effectiveness and to determine if these types of treatment for alcohol addiction offer continuing success.

Help for Alcoholism: Teenage Alcohol Dependency

Learning about alcohol treatment is particularly significant concerning teen alcoholism.

More specifically, if a teenager or a parent of a teenager can read about and grasp some of the facts and statistics about teenage alcohol abuse and teen alcohol addiction, they might be able to forestall the harmful outcomes that are correlated with teenage alcohol abuse and teen alcohol addiction in the workplace, school, or in college.

More exposure to relevant information also means that our youth may be able to steer clear of adolescent alcohol addiction treatment entirely.

Conclusion: Help for Alcoholism

Although a cure for alcoholism does not currently exist, quite a few drug and alcohol therapeutic methodologies and alcohol dependency treatment approaches, however, exist that help alcoholics recover from their alcohol dependency.

In brief, there is a lot of help for alcoholism that is available. Some individuals will surely ask the following question concerning treating alcohol addiction: "What is the most effective type of help for alcoholism"?

Like any chronic sickness, there are distinctive levels and degrees of success concerning alcoholism treatment.

For instance, some alcoholics, after treatment, refrain from drinking and sustain their sobriety.


Other alcoholics, quite the opposite, undergo relatively long periods of sobriety after receiving treatment, and then have a drinking relapse.

And still other alcoholics cannot abstain from drinking alcohol for any continual period of time, no matter what manner of treatment they have received.

It can be noted with fascination that all of these treatment outcomes happen with every known type of alcohol dependency treatment.

Whatever the case may be, when discussing the topic of alcohol addiction treatment, nevertheless, one thing is self-evident: the longer a problem drinker learns how to always drink in moderation or how to totally stay away from drinking alcohol, the more likely he or she will be able to avoid professional alcohol treatment.