Alcohol Abuse Treatment

Alcohol consumption is very common in the United States and world-wide. It is a staple in many celebratory settings and can be found in the average household. Nearly 86% of Americans ages 18 and older have reported that at some point in their life-time they have consumed alcohol. More than 55% of which have reported that they have consumed alcohol recently, with more than 6% of those reported suffering from alcohol abuse disorder. In addition to this, over 400,000 people, age 12 to 17, were found to suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD). More than 14 million adults in the US struggle with alcohol addiction. Alcohol use disorders have become one of the most serious public health issues in America.

In this article we will address what treatment for alcohol abuse disorders looks like and how you can receive help for your addiction today.

What is Alcoholism?

Alcohol abuse (alcoholism) or alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic illness characterized by compulsive behaviors that leave people incapable of functioning without constant drinking, inability to control their urge to drink, and the lack of control over emotions, acts, and feelings when alcohol is no longer available. In this article, we may use AUD and alcoholism interchangeably.

When diagnosing AUD, there are a few common characteristics that our team will look for during your evaluation. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Incessant cravings or urges to consume alcohol
  • A desire to quit drinking but unable to stop
  • Recurring dangerous activities involving alcohol such as drunk driving
  • Loss of close relationships or lack of desire for social settings due to drinking
  • Increased consumption of alcohol in order to overcome a built up tolerance
  • Experiencing symptoms of alcoholism withdrawal such as: nausea, tremors, or seizures

How to Treat Alcoholism

Once a proper diagnosis has been given, the first step is developing the right addiction treatment program for you. Substance use treatment programs are able to give clients the proper care needed for their recovery, no matter how severe the addiction may be. In some cases, treatment can help relieve you of your addiction 1 year after treatment begins. In others, treatment has been able to help people significantly reduce their drinking with reportedly fewer issues. Below we will address how someone is diagnosed with AUD and what treatment options are available for alcohol addiction.

Diagnosing Symptoms of Alcoholism

Diagnosing AUD typically helps address and identify pertinent symptoms, habits, and issues that are impacting the daily life of the patient. A diagnosis is only given by a trained professional (physician, psychologist, or a behavioral health specialist) who can help guide the patient toward a sustained recovery. In many cases, the criteria for diagnosing AUD are as follows:

  • Increased drinking habits despite the desire to stop, increased occurrences of drinking more than planned
  • Cravings for drinking throughout the day
  • Alcoholism withdrawal symptoms when alcohol is no longer present.
  • Loss of desire for things you once loved to drink
  • Loss of financial stability in order to acquire, drink, and recover from abuse
  • Inability to do well at work, school, or manage your home because of alcohol use.
  • Increased levels of consumption in order to feel the effects of alcohol
  • Inability to stop drinking on your own, despite numerous attempts
  • Using alcohol to help cope with mental health issues, despite making them worse
  • Continued use of alcohol despite it causing conflict in relationships
  • Drinking in situations where being under the influence is dangerous, especially while driving

If a person being evaluated meets two or more of the above criteria, it is possible they have AUD.

Treating Alcoholism

Treating alcoholism varies depending on the manifestation of the disorder in each person. In some cases short-term intervention may be pursued in order to protect the patient from harm (inpatient hospitalization) or a form of outpatient care involving medication-assisted treatment, individual or group therapy, support groups, and further care may be more effective. The main goal in addiction treatment is to improve the quality of life for each patient in order to reduce the need for substances to cope.

Alcohol addiction treatment will typically involve:

  • Detox and withdrawal. The first step in treating many addictions begins with detoxing. A detoxification program is typically an inpatient program that helps people safely cleanse their system while under medical guidance and care. This may include medications to prevent withdrawal from alcoholism symptoms.
  • Establishing an effective intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) plan. This is the first step in treating alcohol addiction. A specialist will begin with goal setting, behavioral therapy scheduling, and offer encouragement and guidance in how to best pursue treatment for AUD.
  • Psychological counseling. Psychological counseling is a form of treatment that can be done in either an individual or group setting. Counseling can help educate you on alcohol abuse, your particular struggle with addiction, and how you can personally pursue your own recovery. Family and spouse counseling are also a beneficial aspect of treatment
  • Oral medications. A drug called disulfiram (Antabuse) may assist prevent you from drinking, although it will not cure alcohol abuse or get rid of the compulsion to drink. If you drink alcohol, the drug produces a physical reaction that may include flushing, queasiness, throwing up and headaches. Naltrexone, a drug that obstructs the brain’s ability to feel the euphoric effects of alcohol abuse, may help reduce heavy drinking and decrease the urge to drink. As soon as you stop drinking, Acamprosate may assist withdrawal symptoms like cravings. Unlike acamprosate, naltrexone and disulfiram don’t make you feel sick after taking a drink.
  • Injected medication. Vivitrol is an injected medication that contains naltrexone. Injected medications are usually only administered on a monthly basis and is typically more helpful than similar pill-medications
  • Continued support. Continued treatment options can be extremely beneficial for a sustained recovery from alcohol use disorder usually comes in the form of support groups and therapy options as well as aid in preventing relapse.
  • Mental Illness Treatment. Alcohol use disorder commonly occurs along with other mental health disorders. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health related issues can increase the effects of alcohol use disorder and can prevent people from getting the treatment they need. Alcohol abuse treatment does not only seek to treat the substance use disorder, but help treat the person as a whole.
  • Medical treatment for health conditions. In many cases, alcohol abuse related health conditions clear up once people stop drinking. However, there are times when the underlying health conditions do not heal. Addiction facilities can help you receive the needed care for your health conditions.

Treatment Options for Alcoholics

The following options are available at most addiction treatment facilities. If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol addiction, know that treatment for your condition is available and have helped many people throughout the nation recover successfully and live addiction free.


Some people may be surprised when they discover there are medications that help treat alcohol abuse. The FDA has approved several medications to be used to treat alcohol dependence. Many of these drugs help reduce the effects of alcohol on the brain and prevent dangerous withdrawal symptoms. All medications used in alcohol use treatment are non-addictive and are either used in inpatient treatment or are administered alongside counseling and therapeutic treatments.

The following medications have been approved by the FDA to treat people with AUD:

  • Acamprosate (Campral)
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Naltrexone (Revia)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)
  • Ondansetron (Zofran)
Behavioral Treatments

Also known as alcohol counseling, behavioral treatments involve working with a health professional to identify and help change the behaviors that lead to heavy drinking. Behavioral treatments share certain features, which can include:

Behavioral treatments and alcohol counseling are therapeutic treatment options for those suffering from AUD. They are organized and performed by health professionals who can help you identify and change dangerous behaviors or habits that may have led to your struggle with drinking. Counseling and behavioral therapies can help you:

  • Develop the skills to significantly reduce the need or desire to drink
  • Help you become a part of a support group that will aid in your healing
  • Set attainable goals for your progress in treatment
  • Build helpful coping techniques that avoid substance abuse

Rehabilitation for Alcoholism

Below is a list of the behavioral therapies and counseling programs that are available in alcohol use treatment programs.

Behavioral Therapies and Counseling to Treat Alcohol Use Disorder
  • Brief Interventions are short, individually or small-group counseling sessions that are time limited. The therapist offers information about the individual’s drinking pattern and prospective dangers. After getting personalized feedback, the counselor will work with the customer to set goals and provide ideas for assisting to make a modification.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy is performed over a short amount of time to construct and reinforce motivation to alter drinking habits. The therapy concentrates on identifying the advantages and disadvantages of looking for treatment, forming a plan for making changes in one’s drinking, building self-confidence, and developing the abilities needed to adhere to the plan.
  • Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy can happen individually with a therapist or in little groups. This kind of treatment is focused on recognizing the circumstances and feelings  that cause heavy drinking and handling stress that can result in regression. The objective is to alter the thought processes that lead to extreme drinking and to establish the skills necessary to cope with daily scenarios that might activate alcoholism.
  • Marital and Family Counseling incorporates partners and other relatives in the treatment procedure and can play an important role in enhancing and repairing family relationships. Research studies show that strong family support through household treatment increases the possibilities of preserving abstaining (stopping drinking), compared with patients undergoing specific therapy.

Ultimately, understanding your individual need for treatment is more important for your recovery than whatever treatment process may be recommended for you.  Effective treatment programs prevent conflict and incorporate empathy, motivational support, and a concentrate on changing your drinking habits in order for you or your loved one to experience a sustained recovery.

How to Help an Alcoholic – Post Treatment

After you have completed alcohol dependence rehab, there is still the need for continued support. Oftentimes, treatment programs have support groups and therapy options available even after medical treatment has ended. These programs can provide extended care and mutual support as you continue to seek sobriety.

Freedom Now offers a vast variety of counseling and group therapy options for our patients’ continued care. Our staff is trained and prepared to offer continued support, telehealth options for patients, and other ongoing support groups for those recovering from alcohol addiction.

In many cases, aftercare plans and regular counseling meetings can further encourage you in your recovery and give you further support and encouragement as you meet with likeminded people who desire you to live a life addiction free. These groups are available in our facility as well as part of organizations (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous) all over the nation.

Millions of people throughout the United States and in South Florida have achieved a long-lasting recovery from alcoholism. Regardless of how severe your disorder may be, how many times you have attempted sobriety, or if you have experienced a recent relapse, it is possible to recover. Help is available to you today. Contact us to learn more about our substance abuse treatment and our AUD treatment programs.

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