Treating Alcoholism With Therapy

Single man sitting and contemplating life.

Treating Alcoholism With Therapy

Both experts and former alcoholics say that there is no cure for alcoholism. It is true that the long-term effects on the body and brain are serious, but it is possible to stop drinking and return to normal life. The goal of treatment is to help a person to stop drinking. The first step is helping him or her to see that they have a problem. The next step is getting help.

Alcoholism treatment has three main stages:

    • 1. Detoxification. Detox is needed as soon as a person stops drinking alcohol. At times, it is a medical emergency. Detox causes alcohol withdrawal and can be extremely painful and can cause hallucinations, seizures, delirium tremens and even death.
    • 2. Rehabilitation consists of counseling combined with medications. Both are necessary to help the recovering alcoholic to stay sober. Rehabilitation can be done as inpatient or outpatient, depending on a person, his finances, and many other factors.
    • 3. Maintenance. To stay sober, a person has to be extremely motivated and self-driven. Support is crucial. Attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or meetings of similar groups, and finding a sponsor, have a great deal of success.

    Detox cleanses the body of alcohol, but does not stop the need for drinking, making recovery very difficult. Withdrawal symptoms can be extreme and include anxiety, lack of sleep, spasms, panic, shakes and hallucinations caused by delirium tremens (DT.) Delirium tremens can be fatal and has to be treated by an experienced professional and hospitalization is often necessary.

    What Does Therapy Provide?

    Counseling is crucial in helping a recovering alcoholic to talk about his or her problems and come up with a plan for rehabilitation. There are many therapy options to use:

    • 12-Step Facilitation
    • Trauma Informed Care
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
    • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills (DBT SKILLS)
    • Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (MBCBT)
    • Motivational Interviewing (MI)
    • Individual Therapy
    • Family Program
    • Group Therapy
    • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

    Therapy is also very important in dealing with underlying problems which contributed to alcoholism. Usually, it means dealing with low self-esteem, anxiety, stress, depression, or mental health problems. A therapist needs to help an alcoholic to understand that his drinking made all his other problems worse. As alcoholics commonly suffer from hypertension, liver diseases, and possibly heart diseases, these will need to be treated too.

    For many recovering alcoholics, residential programs offer best results. They combine trained and experienced professional teams, group and individual therapy, support groups, family involvement, activity therapy, and many other strategies. A thorough plan reduces the temptation to revert to usual environment and behavior patterns which often lead straight ‘off the wagon.”  Treatment programs can also combine the treatment of physical health issues that often plague alcoholics.