Alcoholism Treatment Methods

Depression and AlcoholAlcoholism is an ancient disease, but modern treatments make it more manageable than ever.

There are several types of alcohol addiction treatments, and in most cases, a combination of therapies works best. People who experience withdrawal symptoms need alcohol detoxification and medical care. After detox it’s important that treatment addresses the psychological issues behind alcoholic behaviors. Talk therapy makes up the bulk of treatment. When alcohol rehab is complete, sober living is an option to help alcoholics practice what they’ve learned during treatment and still remain in a protected environment.

Alcohol Detox and Treatment

Alcohol detox is a crucial first step for treating severe alcoholism. Without medical care to address withdrawal symptoms, the need to self-medicate to manage withdrawal symptoms may override any real attempts at abstinence. Few alcoholics stop drinking on their own – and it isn’t safe to try. Too often, underlying medical issues cause complications; plus patients may deal with severe symptoms. It is far safer and more effective to wait to stop drinking until under the medical care and supervision of addiction treatment professionals. Withdrawal symptoms often include mild anxiety, shakiness and even seizures. There is a small risk of death from the more severe complication known as delirium tremens, which includes confusion, rapid heartbeat and fever.[1]

Currently there are three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating alcohol use:

  • Acamprosate (Campral®) – reduces withdrawal symptoms; normalizes brain systems disturbed by ongoing alcohol use
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse®) – produces an unpleasant reaction if a person drinks alcohol while taking it
  • Naltrexone – lowers the feelings of euphoria when a person drinks alcohol; also used to treat opiate addiction

Patients who need help with withdrawal symptoms find significant relief with current medications.[2]

Psychological Treatment

Often, alcoholism begins as an attempt to deal with trauma and co-occurring mental health conditions that come with psychological symptoms. Psychological treatments give patients the tools to manage cravings to drink and understand how negative thoughts lead to cravings.

For example, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment that allows a therapist and patient to set goals. Through the therapy patients learn how to identify when their attitude might lead to drinking even before thoughts of taking a drink emerge.

Other therapies include group therapy and sharing, experiential therapy and alternative treatments. These various options allow patients to discuss what happened before and during active addiction and process the emotions. If a co-occurring mental health disorder is present, patients also get help for issues with depression, anxiety, hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, fear and other symptoms without turning to alcohol. The gold standard of addiction treatment is to treat both alcoholism and mental health disorders at the same time to make sure patients have the ability to manage all their symptoms.[3]
Woman in recovery group

Sober Living After Treatment

Many alcoholics need more than a seven-day detox or a 30-day alcohol rehab program to heal before heading home. Sober living homes offer a safe place to begin the transition process, offering the same drug-free environment and accountability found at alcohol rehab but with a little more freedom to create a new life in the community. Accompanied by sober companions, residents leave the sober living estate to look for and/or go to a job, attend school or go to 12-Step meetings in the community. Creating a support system out in the real world while still living safely in the alcohol-free world of recovery provides the extra support necessary to make the transition into sober life and decrease the risk of relapse.[4]

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Michael’s House

Are you interested in learning more about alcohol detox, addiction treatment or sober living options in Southern California? Here at Michael’s House, we offer a Palm Springs alcohol rehab that offers evidence-based addiction treatments for alcohol and drug addiction. Call now.


[1] WebMD Medical Reference. (2017). Alcohol Withdrawal. Retrieved May 8, 2017 from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-withdrawal-symptoms-treatments#1.

[2] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Retrieved May 8, 2017 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition.

[3] National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2014). Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help. Retrieved May 8, 2017 from https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/treatment/treatment.htm#chapter02.

[4] Polcin, D. L., Korcha, R., Bond, J., & Galloway, G. (2010). What Did We Learn from Our Study on Sober Living Houses and Where Do We Go from Here? Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. Retrieved May 8, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057870/.

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