How is Alcohol Addiction Treated?
An addiction to alcohol is treated through a combination of behavioral therapy, counseling, group therapy, and stress management. In some cases, you will also receive medication which will reduce cravings or make drinking less pleasant.
Behavioral therapy like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common treatment method used to help clients recognize and move past behavioral and emotional problems contributing to addiction. CBT approaches addiction with the belief that alcoholism and drinking are often symptoms of a much deeper problem, often difficulty coping with stress or emotions, and sometimes related to trauma. Working to identify those problems as well as the thoughts and behavior patterns that contribute to substance use and therefore to relapse gives many the tools to move forward, to change how they act, and to live happily without alcohol.
Stress is widely recognized as a major contributing factor to substance abuse and relapse. Learning to manage stress, through behavioral therapy and through complementary treatment options like yoga and meditation, gives you the tools to deal with it in a healthy way.
Counseling gives you the opportunity to discuss problems such as cravings, relationships, and emotional issues with a counselor, typically in a one-on-one setting. Counseling is an important part of alcohol rehab, because it gives you the opportunity to learn more about yourself, how you react, and how you face triggers and cravings.
Group therapy is an important aspect of addiction recovery because people often perform better with social motivation. Having others who understand what youre going through, who you can talk to, and who will not judge you gives you an audience and an outlet. This is often also why you are strongly recommended to go into group therapy such as 12-step or SMART after leaving rehab.
In some cases, you may be given medication to help with your journey towards sobriety. While not a cure for alcoholism, medication reduces the urges or effects of alcohol, making it more difficult for you to stay addicted. Some of the most common medications for alcohol addiction include:
Disulfiram – Disulfiram produces an acute sensitivity to ethanol, causing you to get sick and even throw up when drinking.
Acamprosate – Acamprosate stabilizes chemical signaling in the brain, reducing the effects of alcohol, and reducing cravings.
Naltrexone – While primarily used as an opioid partial agonist to block the effects of opioids, Naltrexone has similar effects with alcohol and can prevent you from getting ‘high from alcohol.