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Seeking Help for Alcoholics

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), alcoholism is a chronic brain disease characterized by an inability to stop or control drinking even when the person is already experiencing the consequences.

Navigation: What is Alcohol Use Disorder?, What Help is Available for Alcoholics?, Support Groups for People with Alcohol Dependence, Therapy and Counseling for Alcohol Abuse, Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder, Medications Used for AUD Treatment, Helplines and Online Resources, The Importance of Family Support During Alcohol Addiction Treatment, How to Support Your Own Alcohol Recovery Journey, Rehab Is Your Best Chance


It’s not easy having a loved one who has a drinking problem. Convincing them to seek treatment and go to rehab can be a real challenge. Part of this is because some people with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) don’t even recognize that they have a problem.

If you or your loved one’s addiction is getting them in trouble, affecting their health, causing problems, and making them feel like they constantly need to drink, proper addiction medicine is necessary. Anyone who is dependent on alcohol will find it difficult to recover without the assistance of health professionals. In fact, quitting alcohol overnight can even be dangerous if you have been drinking for a long time.

Common withdrawal symptoms caused by alcohol dependence include: anxiety, sweating, tremors, nausea, vomiting, and more severe symptoms like hallucinations and seizures. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening in some cases, so you need to go through a detoxification process.

The good news is that help is available whether you have an alcohol addiction or you are alcohol dependent. Here we will take a closer look at the various ways to support someone with an alcohol use disorder. But first, let’s discuss what this condition is.


What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), alcoholism is a chronic brain disease characterized by an inability to stop or control drinking even when the person is already experiencing the consequences.

Substance abuse and addiction have adverse effects on a person’s physical and mental health. Despite this, an addicted person will still have difficulty limiting their alcohol consumption. Any effort to cut down or stop drinking will usually be unsuccessful.

The tendency is for alcohol to be their main priority. They will spend most of their time thinking about drinking, going to events where alcohol is present, spending time with people who are likely to drink, and recovering from the effects of alcohol.

Alcohol will cause them to neglect their responsibilities and lose interest in things they used to enjoy. Their addiction will also cause problems socially. They may alienate their old circles or start lying to their families about who they are spending time with. They may also adopt more secretive behaviors out of shame, fear, or regret.

Some people develop alcohol dependence, which is when the body adjusts to the constant presence of alcohol. When the person stops drinking or reduces their intake, they will struggle to function normally and they will suffer from withdrawal symptoms as well as intense cravings.

Addicted individuals are also likely to engage in risky behavior especially while under the influence, such as driving or operating machinery.

The severity of alcohol use disorder can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe, based on the number of symptoms present, the frequency of alcohol misuse, the existence of a mental illness, and whether or not the person also participates in drug abuse.

It’s important to note that alcohol use disorders are treatable. Now let’s talk about the different ways to assist someone with an AUD.


What Help is Available for Alcoholics?

Whether you want to stop drinking alcohol or you want to treat alcohol dependence, a treatment provider can determine what kind of approach is best for you. There is no single right answer when it comes to alcohol abuse treatment. It usually involves a combination of treatments.

The best treatment programs use a personalized approach when treating people with addiction. This also goes for people struggling with alcoholism as everyone is affected by this condition differently.

People with alcoholism can greatly benefit from a comprehensive treatment program in an inpatient or outpatient rehab facility. There they can receive medication-assisted treatment (MAT), proper medical detox, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and other treatment modalities.

Addiction also has a social aspect, which is why support groups can play an important role in the addiction treatment process.

Recovery from alcoholism is a journey, and it’s essential to find the approach that works best for you or your loved one.

Support Groups for People with Alcohol Dependence

Support groups play a crucial role in the recovery and rehabilitation process for alcoholics. These groups are designed to provide a safe and non-judgmental environment where patients struggling with alcohol addiction can share their experiences, receive encouragement, and offer mutual support to one another.

One of the greatest benefits of participating in support groups is the fact that they can provide emotional support. People with AUD often feel isolated and overwhelmed by their addiction. Support groups provide a sense of belonging and understanding as members can relate to each other’s experiences, struggles, and even their successes.

Sharing emotions and experiences can help recovering individuals cope with the challenges of recovery.

Support groups offer the opportunity to learn and grow from your peers. Members can share information, resources, and coping skills. It’s better to learn from other people who have faced similar struggles because you get to understand the nature of addiction a bit better.

Not only do support groups provide emotional support but also accountability. Members are encouraged to set personal goals, and the group helps them stay on track and committed to their sobriety.

In the long term, this can build their confidence and prevent relapse. Members can reach out for help whenever they feel vulnerable, stressed, or tempted to use alcohol again.

The “long term” is an important thing to think about because the recovery process is ongoing. Support groups provide a long-term network of care. Even after completing a formal treatment program, individuals can continue attending support group meetings for ongoing encouragement and assistance.

Popular support groups for alcoholics include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and SMART Recovery. These groups, along with others, have helped countless individuals achieve and maintain sobriety by providing a supportive and understanding community.

Therapy and Counseling for Alcohol Abuse

Although alcoholism tends to cause several severe health effects, the mental and behavioral effects must be addressed as well. The person going through treatment will not just be treated so that their body can get healthy again, they will receive proper guidance so that they can understand the root causes of their addiction as well as their triggers.

Therefore, counseling and therapy play essential roles in the treatment of alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD). They are an integral part of the recovery process and can significantly improve the chances of successful, long-term sobriety.

For starters, a licensed therapist or counselor can properly assess a person’s alcohol use and determine the severity of their alcohol use disorder. This assessment helps create an individualized treatment plan tailored to the person’s specific needs.

They can then help the person identify various triggers and issues that are contributing to their addiction. Often, alcoholism is connected to underlying emotional, psychological, or behavioral issues. Therapy provides a safe space for individuals to explore and address these root causes, such as trauma, anxiety, depression, or stress.

One of the primary goals of counseling is to equip people with healthy coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with stress, triggers, and cravings that could lead to relapse. The therapist will help develop a relapse prevention plan to minimize the risk of returning to harmful behaviors. This will help them later on when they are out of rehab and maintaining their sobriety on their own.

Counseling and therapy can also help individuals find motivation to change their behavior and maintain sobriety. Therapists can provide encouragement and emotional support during the difficult stages of recovery.

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Going to rehab can be beneficial for someone who is recovering from an alcohol use disorder. The structured and focused environment in an inpatient rehab facility can keep patients away from their usual stressors and triggers, meaning they can keep working on their recovery without distractions.

However, there are also some patients who may benefit more from outpatient treatment. This is a completely different approach. So what is the difference between the two?

While both options aim to help individuals recover from their addiction, they differ in their intensity, setting, and level of support.

Inpatient treatment, also known as residential treatment, involves staying at a specialized facility for a specified period, typically ranging from a few weeks to several months.

Inpatient rehab facilities provide a highly structured and controlled environment, where individuals can focus solely on their recovery without distractions or temptations from the outside world. The treatment is intensive and involves a combination of individual counseling, group therapy, support groups, educational sessions, and various evidence-based therapies.

Medical professionals and addiction specialists closely monitor patients’ progress and administer any necessary medical or psychological interventions.

Inpatient treatment is generally recommended for individuals with severe alcohol addiction, co-occurring mental health issues, or those who have not found success with outpatient treatment in the past.

On the other hand, outpatient treatment allows individuals to receive addiction treatment while continuing to live at home and maintain their daily routines. Also known as partial hospitalization, this option provides more flexibility in terms of scheduling and allows individuals to apply the skills they learn in treatment to real-life situations immediately.

While they are less structured and less intensive, outpatient programs provide the same types of treatments like group therapy, individual counseling, addiction education, and relapse prevention. Some outpatient programs also include family therapy.

The intensity of outpatient treatment can vary, with some programs requiring daily attendance while others may meet a few times a week, depending on the patient’s needs and the program’s structure.

Outpatient treatment is often suitable for individuals with milder forms of alcohol addiction or those who have completed inpatient treatment and need ongoing support as they transition back to their regular lives.

When it comes to choosing between inpatient and outpatient treatment, one isn’t necessarily better than the other. It all depends on what is more suitable for the patient and what would help them achieve sobriety for the long term.

Factors such as the severity of alcohol addiction, the presence of co-occurring disorders, and the patient’s commitment to recovery may influence the decision between inpatient and outpatient treatment.

It’s best to seek professional help and get proper medical advice on the type of treatment program that is appropriate for your condition based on your specific needs.

Medications Used for AUD Treatment

There are several medications that can be used in the treatment of alcoholism. These medications can help individuals reduce their alcohol cravings, manage withdrawal symptoms, and support them in maintaining sobriety.

Here are some of the commonly used medications for alcoholism treatment:

Disulfiram: This medication creates an unpleasant reaction if alcohol is consumed. It works as a deterrent to drinking by causing symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and flushing when alcohol is ingested.

Naltrexone: Naltrexone is available in both oral and extended-release injectable forms. It helps by reducing alcohol cravings and the pleasurable effects of alcohol. It is often used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies.

Acamprosate: Acamprosate helps people who have already stopped drinking to maintain abstinence by reducing withdrawal symptoms and alcohol cravings.

Topiramate: Originally developed as an anticonvulsant, topiramate has shown promise in reducing alcohol cravings and promoting abstinence in some individuals with alcohol use disorder.

Baclofen: Baclofen is a muscle relaxant that has been investigated for its potential use in reducing alcohol cravings and promoting abstinence.

Gabapentin: Primarily used for epilepsy and neuropathic pain, gabapentin has also been studied for its effectiveness in reducing alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Nalmefene: Similar to naltrexone, nalmefene can help reduce alcohol cravings and is often used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies.

We need to emphasize that medication alone may not be sufficient for treating alcoholism effectively. Combining medication with other treatment methods mentioned here can significantly improve treatment outcomes.

Helplines and Online Resources

Helplines and online resources can support people with AUD before they even get into an addiction treatment program. They can offer information and treatment options for those who are in need of proper treatment for their alcoholism. They serve as accessible and convenient channels for those seeking help and support in their journey towards recovery.

Helplines offer immediate assistance to individuals in crisis or distress. When someone feels overwhelmed by their alcohol use or is seeking help for a loved one, helplines provide a confidential and non-judgmental space to talk to a trained counselor or professional who can offer support, guidance, and encouragement.

Helplines are typically available 24/7, ensuring that support is accessible whenever someone needs it. This is crucial because alcoholism is a chronic condition that may require immediate intervention or ongoing support.

Additionally, many people with AUD may be hesitant to seek help due to the fear of stigma or shame associated with alcoholism. Helplines and online resources offer anonymity and confidentiality, allowing them to reach out for help without revealing their identity.

Meanwhile, online resources provide a wealth of information about alcoholism, its effects on health, and potential treatment options.

These resources help individuals better understand their condition and the steps they can take to overcome it. Online resources may include forums, chat rooms, or online support groups.

Online resources offer convenience, allowing individuals to access information and support from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. This can be particularly beneficial for those who may have mobility issues or live in remote areas with limited access to in-person support.

Overall, helplines and online resources serve as a vital complement to traditional treatment approaches for alcoholism. They provide an essential lifeline to those in need, empowering them to take the first steps towards recovery and offering ongoing support throughout their journey.

The Importance of Family Support During Alcohol Addiction Treatment

In many cases, family members contribute to the development of alcoholism. Therefore, family support is crucial in the recovery process.

Family involvement in the addiction treatment process is important because alcoholism doesn’t just affect the addicted individual but also the people around them. It’s possible that the complex family dynamics have either contributed to the development of AUD or been affected by it.

In any case, family support can go a long way for someone who is trying to get their sobriety back. Facing alcoholism and the journey to recovery can be emotionally draining and overwhelming for the individual. Family members can provide emotional support, understanding, and encouragement throughout the process, which can significantly reduce feelings of isolation and shame.

Recovery from alcoholism often involves multiple challenges, including relapse risks and setbacks. Family support can serve as a constant source of motivation and encouragement, reinforcing the individual’s commitment to treatment and sobriety.

Studies have shown that individuals are more likely to adhere to their treatment plans when they have strong family support. Family members can help ensure that the person attends therapy sessions, takes their medications (if prescribed), and engages in healthy behaviors that promote recovery.

Even involving the family in therapy sessions can be immensely beneficial. It allows open communication, meaning each member can address family dynamics that are contributing to the person’s addiction. it fosters a supportive and understanding environment that promotes recovery for everyone involved.

Family involvement can also reduce codependency. Sometimes a family member may enable their loved one’s addictive habits through codependent behaviors. But they can’t address this if they are not even aware of their codependency. Treatment involving the whole family can help break these patterns and establish healthier boundaries, promoting a more balanced and sustainable recovery process.

Family members may not fully understand the complexities of alcoholism or the challenges of recovery. By becoming educated about the condition and treatment, they can better empathize with their loved one’s struggles and provide appropriate support.

For someone trying to overcome alcoholism, being in an environment that supports sobriety is crucial. Family members can actively participate in creating an alcohol-free home and avoid situations that may trigger cravings or relapse.

In conclusion, family support is a powerful resource during alcoholism treatment. It creates a nurturing and understanding environment that significantly enhances the individual’s chances of successful recovery while also promoting healing and growth within the family unit. Ultimately, this can strengthen the relationships between each of the members by rebuilding trust and fostering a stronger, healthier family unit.

How to Support Your Own Alcohol Recovery Journey

Although there are plenty of ways to support someone who is in recovery from alcoholism, it is also important for them to know how to support themselves during this difficult period. Here are some self-help strategies that can complement formal addiction treatment:

Educate Yourself: Learn about alcoholism, its effects on physical and mental health, and the consequences it can have on relationships and daily life. Understanding the nature of the problem is an essential starting point.

Set Goals: Define clear and achievable goals for reducing or quitting alcohol consumption. Start with small steps and gradually increase the level of commitment.

Identify Triggers: Identify the situations, emotions, or stressors that trigger the desire to drink. By recognizing these triggers, you can develop strategies to cope with them effectively.

Build a Support Network: Surround yourself with supportive and understanding friends, family members, or support groups. Having a strong support network can help you stay motivated and accountable.

Coping Strategies: Develop healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, anxiety, and negative emotions. Exercise, meditation, hobbies, or counseling can be helpful.

Create a Routine: Establish a structured daily routine to minimize idle time, boredom, or situations that may lead to drinking.

Avoid Temptations: Stay away from places or people that encourage excessive drinking. Instead, engage in activities that do not involve alcohol.

Keep a Journal: Record your thoughts, feelings, and progress regularly. Journaling can help you gain insights into your behavior and identify patterns.

Celebrate Your Milestones: Acknowledge and reward yourself for achieving small milestones on your journey to recovery.

Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques can help you stay present and avoid dwelling on past mistakes or worries about the future.

Professional Help: Consider seeking professional assistance through therapy, counseling, or support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or SMART Recovery.

Healthier Lifestyle: Focus on improving your overall health through regular exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep. A healthy lifestyle can positively impact your recovery journey.

While self-help can be a powerful tool, it is also important to seek professional help so that they can offer proper assistance, medical detox, and therapy.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism, look for a rehab near you today and learn more about the available treatment options. Get started on the road to recovery today.

Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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