Trusted Content

How To Recover From Alcohol Abuse

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

February 26, 2019

Alcohol abuse is a serious issue that affects millions of Americans. Individuals struggling to control their drinking can enter recovery through the help of detox programs, alcohol rehab centers, community support groups, and medication-assisted treatment.

Drinking alcohol is a popular pastime for people all over the world, and alcohol is often used to toast the most important moments in life.

But for every event we see celebrated with alcohol, there are millions of people behind the scenes, struggling to control their drinking.

Research proves that it is possible to recover from alcohol abuse. Alcohol rehab centers are excellent places to begin recovery but should be viewed as the first step of a lifelong journey.

Individuals will also need a strong support system after treatment, which could include sober housing, counseling, 12-step meetings, and recovery support groups.

What Is Alcohol Recovery?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, recovery is “a process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.”

Some of the trademarks of recovery include abstinence from substance use, learning to deal with a range of emotions, and being a productive member of the community.

For a person looking to enter recovery, alcohol rehab centers are usually the first step. Treatment at an alcohol rehab center will include medical detox, medication-assisted treatment, and individual and group therapy sessions.

Support groups that include 12-step programs or SMART Recovery meetings may be offered at the treatment center, to familiarize clients with like-minded individuals.

Successful completion of an alcohol rehab program will usually involve a detailed aftercare plan. This may require continued attendance at support groups, sober living options, and continued counseling.

Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance among people entering recovery. But with treatment centers and engaging aftercare support, recovery is possible — even for those that struggle with severe alcohol abuse.

Alcohol Detox Programs

When a person is physically dependent on alcohol, it means their body now needs that substance in order to function normally. If a person stops drinking abruptly, it can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Many people are unable to quit drinking on their own, due to this difficult withdrawal period. Fortunately, alcohol detox programs exist to support individuals through this initial recovery phase.

Alcohol detox programs are offered in most inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, and medical staff members help individuals through the withdrawal stage as safely and comfortably as possible.

Medical team members may also administer medication that helps to relieve withdrawal symptoms and reduce the chance of relapse.

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Inpatient Treatment For Alcoholism

Once an individual successfully completes detox, they will be given a “next steps” treatment plan, which will likely include a referral to an inpatient treatment program.

Inpatient treatment programs are residential, and clients temporarily live on-site in order to immerse themselves in a recovery mindset.

Attending an inpatient alcohol rehab center sets a person up for utmost success, as this type of treatment is the most secure and stabilizing environment.

At an inpatient rehab center, clients have access to medical care, individual and group therapy, and medication-assisted treatment. Many programs offer creative arts therapy and wellness groups, including yoga and meditation.

Twelve-step meetings may be held on-site, which encourages those new in recovery to begin building a support network.
Inpatient treatment programs can last anywhere from one week to one year, and a longer stay is associated with more positive recovery outcomes.

Relapse Prevention And Continued Care

Relapse prevention is a key element of alcohol abuse recovery. Treatment teams will work with the recovering individual to create a relapse prevention plan, which includes tools and suggestions for protecting their newfound sobriety.

Treatment teams may also suggest continued care options, which help individuals continue building support after they complete an inpatient program.

Continued care options include:

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Individuals suffering from alcohol abuse may battle continued withdrawal symptoms, including strong cravings.

Medication is available to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings, in order to provide individuals a solid chance at staying sober.

Outpatient Programs

Stepping down to an outpatient level of treatment could greatly benefit those new in recovery.

Options include partial hospitalization programs, which provide treatment sessions for six hours per day, five days per week — and intensive outpatient programs, that offer half-day treatment sessions, three days per week.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that people who spend at least three months in treatment have better recovery outcomes. Stepping down to another level of treatment could be a helpful way to continue building a recovery support system.

Sober Living Options

Having a supportive, substance-free environment is essential for a person who recently stopped drinking. After successfully completing treatment, some individuals find it difficult to return to their previous residence, especially if it’s not an environment that supports recovery.

Sober living options exist to provide stable, substance-free housing for recovering individuals. Sober living homes could be apartments, houses, or condos, and are available in both urban and rural areas.

Some homes are specifically for those new in recovery, while others house individuals with varying lengths of sober time.

Community Support

Once a person has completed an inpatient or outpatient rehab program, it’s vital to get connected to outside support sources right away.

This could include finding a sponsor or sobriety mentor, living in a sober house, attending regular 12-step meetings, or asking your treatment center for a list of community resources for those new in recovery.

Recovery Programs For Alcohol Abuse And Alcoholism

Of the millions of Americans struggling with substance abuse, only a small percentage choose to seek treatment.
Whether people believe alcohol rehab treatment is ineffective or simply out of their price range, it’s important to realize there are innovative and affordable treatment options all over the U.S.

Many alcohol rehab programs take private and public insurance, as well as scholarships and sliding scale payment plans. Your state may also offer insurance vouchers, redeemable for various types of alcohol addiction treatment.

To learn more about how to recover from alcohol abuse, or to find a nearby alcohol rehab center, reach out to one of our specialists today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Treatment

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Recovery

National Institutes of Health: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Alcohol Facts and Statistics

National Institutes of Health: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Drinking Levels Defined

National Institutes of Health: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - What Is A Standard Drink?

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