Treatment for Alcoholism


Analogous to other diseases, alcohol dependency can be overcome with competent alcohol addiction treatment, increased research efforts, and prevention. That is to say, as menacing as alcoholism is, fortunately it can be treated.

Treatment for alcohol addiction, as a general rule, includes a mixture of doctor prescribed alcoholism medications (to deal with the person's alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a safe way), education, counseling, and support to help an individual stop drinking and start on the road to alcoholism recovery.


Treatment for Alcoholism: What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol addiction and alcohol dependence, is a progressive debilitating disease that can in characterized by the following four symptoms:

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

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

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

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

Treatment for Alcoholism: An Essential Outline

Similar to other illnesses and health problems, alcohol dependency can be overcome with increased research efforts, prevention, and proper alcohol addiction treatment.

By giving more people access to quality, competent alcoholic treatment, the emotional, financial, and the physical load that alcohol addiction places on families as well as the costly drain it places on society can be considerably reduced.

If truth be told, research studies display strong data that effectual alcohol dependency treatment programs and alcohol addiction prevention efforts lead to major reductions in HIV, child abuse, strokes, unwanted pregnancy, crime, cancer, hearth disease, and traffic fatalities.

Similarly, effective, top-shelf treatment for alcoholism and drug abuse improves an individual's quality of life, health, and job performance while at the same time minimizing drug use, involvement with the law, and dysfunctional relationships.

As perilous as alcohol addiction is, fortunately it can be treated. Treatment for alcoholism frequently involves a combination of intensive counseling and therapy and doctor-administered medications to help a person stop drinking.

Although most people who are dependent on alcohol need help to recover from their disease, substance abuse research has verified that with support and competent treatment for alcohol addiction, numerous individuals are able to abstain from drinking and re-establish their lives.

Treatment for Alcoholism: Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

When a chronic abuser of alcohol suddenly quits drinking, he or she typically experiences mild, to moderate, to severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms (also called alcoholism withdrawal symptoms).

Special techniques exist for treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms. While some of these therapies use medications, a number of alcoholism therapeutic methodologies do not.

In point of fact, according to the current alcohol dependency research literature, the safest way to treat mild alcoholism withdrawal symptoms is without drugs.

Such non-drug detox efforts make use of wide-extending social support and screening throughout the entire alcohol withdrawal procedure. Other non-drug detoxification methods, moreover, use vitamin therapy (particularly thiamin) and proper nutrition for treating mild withdrawal symptoms.

Mild to Moderate Alcoholism Withdrawal Symptoms

The following epitomizes mild to moderate physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms that often take place within 6 to 48 hours after the alcohol has consumed his or her last alcoholic drink:

  • Nausea

  • Pulsating headaches

  • Vomiting

  • Tremor of the hands

  • Loss of appetite

  • Rapid heart rate

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

  • Looking pale

  • Abnormal movements

  • Sleeping difficulties

  • Enlarged or dilated pupils

  • Clammy skin

  • Involuntary movements of the eyelids

Severe Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The following is a list of severe alcoholism withdrawal symptoms that regularly happen within 48 to 96 hours after the last alcoholic drink has been ingested:

  • Black outs

  • Fever

  • Seizures

  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

  • Visual hallucinations

  • Convulsions

  • Severe autonomic nervous system overactivity

  • Muscle tremors


Treatment for Alcoholism: Traditional Methods

There are numerous orthodox alcohol treatment options that are considered "conventional" alcoholism therapies.

The following alcohol addiction treatment methods and therapies are considered to be "mainstream" alcoholism approaches: Behavioral Treatment, Detoxification, Outpatient alcohol dependency Treatment and Counseling, Therapeutic Medications, and Family and Marital Counseling, and Residential Alcoholism Treatment and Inpatient Alcohol Rehab.

Due to the fact that the "Therapeutic Medications" approach has gained momentum and is fast becoming a "preferred" treatment methodology, it will be discussed in greater detail below.

Therapeutic Medications

In this treatment approach, the alcoholic takes doctor-prescribed medications to help him or her deal more effectively with alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Along these lines, alcoholism researchers have recently found that the benzodiazepines are the medications most likely to produce productive and beneficial outcomes when treating alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Examples include the longer-acting benzodiazepines such as Valium and Librium and the shorter-acting benzodiazepines such as Serax and Ativan.

Intermediate To Short Half-Life Benzodiazepines

From a historical standpoint, when medical doctors have used benzodiazepines for alcohol withdrawal treatment, they have employed a gradual dosage reduction during the overall withdrawal process.

Due to this ability to monitor the exact dosage that is given and also because the shorter-acting benzodiazepines do not stay in the addict's blood for an excessive amount of time, many alcohol addiction practitioners have determined that intermediate to short half-life benzodiazepines should be used when treating withdrawal symptoms, especially those that are severe.

Medications To Prevent Alcohol Relapse

Another aspect of alcohol addiction treatment with therapeutic medications focuses on different drugs such as disulfiram (Antabuse) or naltrexone (ReViaT that are prescribed by a healthcare professional to help prevent the person from returning to drinking after he or she has experienced a relapse.

For instance, antabuse produces negative effects such as vomiting, dizziness, flushing, and/or nausea if the alcoholic ingests alcohol. Without question, antabuse is "effective" to a great extent because it is such a strong deterrent.

Naltrexone (ReViaT), conversely, is effective because it targets the brain's reward circuits and reduces the craving the alcoholic has for alcohol.

Treatment for Alcoholism: Alternative Therapies

Even though the research findings are not final, there are numerous atypical treatment strategies for alcohol abuse and alcoholism that are becoming more researched, more accepted, and more available.

Examples include the following therapies that have been proposed as "natural" kinds of alcoholism treatment: the naturalistic and holistic techniques utilized by Traditional Chinese Medicine, various vitamin and supplement therapies, and "Drumming out Drugs" (a form of therapy that centers on the use of drumming by patients).

As encouraging as these nontraditional methods are, more research, nevertheless, is needed in order to evaluate their effectiveness and to come to a decision regarding their long-term success.

Conclusion: Treatment for Alcoholism

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

Getting rid of the person's alcohol that is still in his or her body is called alcohol detoxification. Once the person stops drinking, he or she will almost always experience mild to moderate to sever alcoholism withdrawal symptoms.

It is the existence of these alcoholism withdrawal symptoms that perhaps best differentiates alcohol abuse from alcoholism. Stated another way, because alcohol abusers are not alcohol dependent, they, unlike alcoholics, do not experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop drinking.

Due to the fact that there is so much alcoholism treatment information that is available, some individuals are bound to ask the following question about treating alcohol dependency: "What is the most effective type of treatment for alcoholism"?

Like any chronic sickness or illness, alcohol addiction treatment presents different levels and degrees of success.

For example, some alcoholics, after treatment, quit drinking and remain sober. Other alcohol dependent individuals, quite the contrary, experience comparatively long periods of sobriety after receiving treatment, and then suffer a drinking relapse.

And still other alcoholics cannot stay away from drinking for any sustainable period of time no matter what type of treatment they have undertaken.


It is, however, interesting to point out that all of these treatment outcomes happen with every known type of alcohol treatment methodology.

Be that as it may, regarding alcohol addiction treatment, however, one thing is undeniable: the longer an individual remains alcohol-free, the more likely he or she will be able to remain sober and avoid alcoholism treatment.