Alcohol Treatment: A Comprehensive Guide to Recovery and Healing

Did you know that a room containing 20 Americans is highly likely to include one person struggling with alcohol? That means you are not alone. Still, fewer than 10% of those struggling seek treatment.

Meanwhile, misuse of alcohol significantly damages individuals, families, communities and our society. Alcohol charges a tax. It devalues your contribution to everyday life, but you can cancel alcohol’s tax by pursuing your treatment options. This guide will help you begin your journey toward recovery and healing.

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder

On the path toward understanding AUD, let’s define it. You know you’re challenged by this disorder when you repeatedly use alcohol regardless of its negative impact on your life.

What Are AUD’s Signs and Symptoms?

If you believe AUD may be impacting your life, this list can help you assess whether this powerful disorder has taken charge:

  • An inability to limit your drinking’s frequency or amount
  • The intense urge to drink most of the time
  • Spending most of your time acquiring alcohol, drinking it or managing hangovers
  • Repeatedly dropping the ball on your obligations due to alcohol use
  • Mixing drinking with driving, operating heavy machinery or any other activity that demands alertness
  • Noticing nausea and other withdrawal symptoms when you abstain from alcohol
  • Drinking to mitigate symptoms of withdrawal
  • Intentionally pushing well beyond your tolerance, so you can become heavily intoxicated
  • Choosing alcohol over activities, gatherings and hobbies that don’t involve drinking
  • Continuing your alcohol use despite the tremendous harm it is causing in multiple areas of your life

What Factors Contribute to the Development of AUD?

Experienced treatment professionals encounter alcohol use disorder across most age groups. Still, it typically develops in a person’s 20s or 30s. Those are the years when we’re all first learning to truly navigate life, after all. Some develop AUD as experimental teens. Other people are impacted by midlife stress.

These factors commonly contribute to AUD’s development:

  • Binge drinking at a young age
  • A family history of alcohol problems
  • A personal history of regularly drinking too much
  • Trauma, especially emotional
  • Persistent depression
  • A broad range of mental health challenges
  • Pressure from peers, friends, culture and other influences

This list may not include the main factor that triggered AUD in your life. Hopefully, it can help you reflect on the reasons you habitually pick a glass of alcohol over healthy choices.

The Importance of Early Intervention and Treatment

Evidence from studies and our professional experience is overwhelming. Intervening early against alcohol use disorder significantly increases the potential for success. If AUD is allowed to persist, solving it can be a greater challenge.

No matter how long AUD has been part of your life, there’s an appropriate solution for you.

Types of Alcohol Treatment Programs

Understanding the available treatment options can help you discover the right scenario. We urge you to honestly evaluate your potential for success in your preferred program.

Inpatient Treatment

In an inpatient setting, you maximize your safety, and you commit to your success by checking yourself into a treatment facility. You have options when considering inpatient treatment.


This is a typical step in overcoming AUD, so expect detox with the understanding that it’s a normal phase of your wellness journey. Detox involves removing alcohol’s toxic grip on your body’s chemistry. Intense withdrawal symptoms often occur during the first few days of detox. Subsequently, for your safety, detox can only occur in a healthcare facility. For most patients, detox lasts between seven and 10 days.

Residential Rehabilitation

When you check into a residential rehabilitation facility, you disconnect from your life’s distractions. Taking this crucial step lets you focus on your recovery. For a period of time sufficient to reset your overall wellness, you will live and sleep in a rehab facility under a physician’s care.

Your recovery program will likely include psychiatric services, group counseling, education on coping skills and other tools to help you navigate life after you leave the facility.

Rehab stays vary in length:

  • 30 days
  • 60 days
  • 90 days

A longer stay creates a higher chance of success. Of course, you can begin with 30 days and extend your stay.

Partial Hospitalization Program

Partial hospitalization programs allow a little more flexibility. The typical PHP is a modification of residential rehab that lets you come home at night. You receive more structure than you would in an outpatient environment, and you have access to the same range of therapies as you would in a residential facility.

A PHP is appropriate when you have a good support system at home.

Outpatient Treatment

Facilities offer outpatient options because each patient is an individual on a unique recovery journey.

Intensive Outpatient Program

You might think of this type of program as a lighter version of a PHP. Intensive outpatient programs let you pursue recovery while maintaining positive aspects of your regular life. If you have a safe, supportive home, an IOP may be appropriate.

Standard Outpatient Program

A good outpatient program comes after an inpatient scenario. It lets you return to your regular life with skills that can help you walk the path of recovery.

Sober Living Facilities

Typically, a sober living facility features several residents. Everyone shares the home’s errands and chores. To live there, you must maintain a job or participate in an outpatient program. This option lets you ease back into regular life after beginning your recovery journey.

Online and Telehealth Treatment Options

Modern technology lets you seek counseling for alcohol recovery through your computer or mobile device. Treatment professionals have begun offering outpatient therapy via Zoom that complies with HIPAA. In some cases, access to treatment through Zoom is beneficial.

Components of Effective Alcohol Treatment Programs

Assessment and Diagnosis

This part of your journey might begin at your primary healthcare provider’s practice. To fully evaluate your situation, your primary provider may refer you to a mental health professional. Assessing whether you have AUD may include

  • Questions about your drinking habits
  • Lab tests
  • A physical examination
  • A psychological evaluation

Individualized Treatment Plans

As your recovery journey begins, your primary therapist will help you individualize your treatment plan. During one-on-one sessions, individualized treatment focuses on your experiences and helps you reflect on the factors that may have generated your alcohol use disorder.

Evidenced-Based Therapies

These therapies commonly yield results for people seeking recovery, and they are backed by peer-reviewed research.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

If you regularly experience negative thoughts that harm your psyche, cognitive behavioral therapy could play a critical role in your recovery story. Treatment professionals use CBT to help you identify disruptive internal commentary and build a positive dialog within yourself.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

This is the opposite side of the coin from CBT. In DBT, we understand that negative thoughts and feelings exist, and we learn to manage them without the help of alcohol or other substances. Your therapist can help you reach a point where you’re okay with feeling uncomfortable sometimes.

Motivational Interviewing

In motivational interview sessions, your MI therapist will help you understand that you already possess the skills you need to release alcohol’s grip on your well-being. After all, you took the first step. You began your recovery process.

Aftercare and Relapse Prevention

An aftercare program can help you adjust to your sober life once you have completed your treatment schedule. Aftercare offers you support that can help you avoid situations that might cause a relapse. Components of aftercare programs vary. A good one can be individualized to help you succeed.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Alcohol Treatment Program

Your Personal Needs and Preferences

Take some time to envision your ideal treatment scenario. Success is more likely in a setting that you find agreeable.

The Addiction’s Severity

If alcohol’s grip on you is especially strong, residential rehab may be recommended.

Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

When AUD is accompanied by mental health challenges, inpatient care may prove more successful.

Insurance Coverage and Financial Considerations

If you have healthcare insurance, you should check how much coverage your policy offers for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Without insurance, you may need to access public treatment programs.

Location and Accessibility

Naturally, a treatment center that is convenient and accessible boosts your ability to succeed on this journey.

Program Reputation and Success Rates

Choosing a treatment facility with a proven track record will give you confidence and increase your chances for success.

The Role of Family and Friends in Alcohol Treatment

The Importance of a Strong Support Network

Your long-term recovery needs a support system. Look to your family, friends and trusted coworkers. Lean on those who can help you enjoy a full life without alcohol.

How to Effectively Support a Loved One During Treatment

If someone you love is in treatment for alcohol use disorder, try to give them as much empathy and grace as you can. At times, doing that may be hard. You may have been harmed by your loved one’s behavior related to alcohol. Please remember that recovery is a process, and supporting them during this journey will benefit you, too.

Involvement in Family Therapy and Support Groups

Attending family therapy can help a family that has been negatively impacted by alcohol addiction talk about trauma and resolve issues. You can learn to encourage and support each other, too.

If you need a support group for people with family members in recovery, trust Al-Anon, the well-established fellowship group.

Maintaining Long-Term Recovery

Often, you hear people talk about getting sober. Focusing on long-term recovery can help you stay sober.

Developing Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Addiction thrives on impulses. By developing healthy coping skills that help you negate impulses, you can maintain your lifelong recovery.

Building a Sober Social Network

You may need to revamp your social network if it mostly featured your drinking buddies. Tell them you love them, and seek new pals who have common interests that don’t involve alcohol.

Identifying and Managing Triggers

Earlier, we mentioned CBT and DBT. Those are techniques for identifying and managing thoughts and behaviors. In a sense, you can live a sober life by similarly approaching your AUD triggers. Identify them, and manage them effectively.

Staying Committed to Aftercare and Support Groups

Life will happen. Something will get in the way. Make yourself a promise to stay committed to your aftercare plan. Whether you’re in a formal aftercare program or attending a support group, aftercare plays a crucial role in long-term success.

Recognizing the Signs of Potential Relapse and Seeking Help

A potential relapse can arise from doubt, negative emotions and a spectrum of other factors. Important signs include lying, detachment, skipping meetings, poor diet, bad hygiene and alcohol cravings. If you become aware that you may relapse, ask for help from anyone you trust. It’s better to seek help than take a drink.


Now that you have read this comprehensive guide, you possess greater insight into your current situation. Friend, the position you’re in is not permanent. The possibility of a fulfilling, alcohol-free life is real and attainable. With ongoing support and treatment, you can achieve long-term success.

Questions and doubts are normal, so we encourage you to contact us at Long Island Treatment Center today. Feel free to ask us anything.

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Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Long Island Treatment Center