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5 Tips for Selecting the Best Treatment for Alcoholism

Author: Kevin Olsen

Last Updated: 11/05/2022

The best alcoholism treatment varies based on how severe alcoholism has become. Treating alcoholism is important to make sure you can get back to living a successful life with your loved ones. The first step is finding help. Studies from SAMHSA and the CDC show that 90% of people who go through alcohol treatment remain sober after one month. After six months, 75% are still sober and after a full year, over 40% of people remain sober.

When it comes to selecting treatment there are a few centers to choose from. Each center provides different services that depend on the situation. It’s important to research each facility and the type of treatment they offer so you know what may be best for you. You need to evaluate your needs to learn which of the services is best, and then if possible also reach out to others who may have attended that rehabilitation center and get their advice.

1. Know What Kind of Treatment is Offered by the Program or Service Provider

It’s important to do research into each alcohol rehabilitation facility in your area instead of finding the closest one. While it may have the most stars on Google, that doesn’t mean it provides the exact treatment that fits your needs. You can call them, and they may be able to give you a tour, or you can visit their website and see the different programs they have.

A few ways to quickly know what treatment is offered is to look into what type of rehab center for alcoholism it is. Outpatient programs focus on therapy, inpatient programs require patients to remain on campus, and detox uses medication. Some rehab centers will also combine these methods.

2. Choose the Appropriate Therapy for Your Individual Needs

Choosing the correct method of therapy is vital in a successful recovery journey. There are many types of therapies within alcohol treatment and not all of them work for everyone. Some of the possible therapy programs offered at rehab centers are found below.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This therapy focuses on one on one sessions used to help break down barriers related to your alcoholism and to help you discover new coping mechanisms as opposed to going back to alcohol.
  • Dialectical Behavioral; Therapy (DBT): This therapy uses 3 main types of therapy in its findings. It uses one on one sessions, group sessions, and phone sessions. By using various types of sessions you can uncover different information and it helps to teach you new coping skills as well as emotional regulation.
  • Recreational Therapy: This therapy is another, more hands-on approach, to find coping mechanisms for recovering alcoholics. It helps you to discover new hobbies while also letting your guard down. This is important because you may feel anxious or nervous when you first enter a rehab center, but joining recreational therapy helps to let that guard down and also to make friends in your new environment.

While there are many different types of therapy, these 3 types are generally considered to be the best in terms of helping alcoholics recover while in treatment.

3. Choose the Treatment that Best Meets your Needs

While CBT, DBT, and Recreational Therapy are known to be the best forms of therapy in alcohol treatment, it doesn’t mean that one or any of them will be best for you. The best way to learn is by doing. You can attempt forms of each type of therapy, as well as other treatment options to discover what is best for you. It could be therapy, medication, relying on the support of others, or many other things. 

When you’re unsure about which treatment is best you should look into a facility that has many or all forms of treatment offered.

4. Compare Your Options by Determining Whether and How the Program or Provider Tracks the Performance

Performance tracking is important because it gives you clear goals. You not only want them to track your performance but you want them to do so in a way that you fully understand. This is important for the same reason that athletes track their performance by working out. People need to see what works best and why it works best. That way they can improve overall. 

The same goes for you. You want to see which weeks you had good weeks, and which weeks you didn’t. You can figure out why and do things to change that so you end up with more good weeks than bad weeks until there are no more bad ones left.

5. Know What Kind of Relapse Policies the Provider of the Program Has?

A relapse policy, or relapse prevention plan, is used to help you notice the signs of a potential relapse coming and ways to stop it. Each therapist, doctor, counselor, and other professional will have their type of relapse prevention plan. 

When choosing a facility to enter you will want to question them on their specific plan and how it might work for you. This is important because if you put a lot of work in and then you relapse, it can feel like you lost all of that work. While that’s not true, because relapses are normal and nothing to be ashamed of, you want to make sure your specific plan helps you stay on your feet as best as you can and continue in your recovery. 

You also want to make sure your plan not only prepares you for post-relapse but also tries to prevent any relapse as well.

What to Know More About Treatment for Alcoholism

It may be easy to select the first rehabilitation facility you see and go there but you want to do as much research as possible first. Everyone’s recovery is different and everyone needs a different form of treatment. About half of all people who enter rehabilitation centers remain sober after one full year, according to SAMHSA and several journals of medicine. 

It’s also important to understand the treatment method. You may not even realize that not every facility will provide you with medication like Naltrexone, or maybe some facilities only have inpatient care. It’s important to research each facility and take your time in deciding which is best for you. We also recommend having a loved one help you with the decision.

What are the Types of Treatment for Alcoholism?

There are so many various forms of treatment for alcoholism. Not every way is effective for everyone either. Below are the two main types of treatments used and then the four main levels of care.

Types of Treatments

Below we cover the two common types of treatment for alcoholism.

  • Medications: A facility with a primary care physician or a board-certified addiction specialist will be able to prescribe medications such as Naltrexone that help in your recovery process while also not being addictive themselves. These medications usually help in your recovery process to get you to stop drinking alcohol and also get you to not release as well. 
  • Talk Therapy: It can be done one on one or in a group setting. It’s also sometimes done on the phone when needed. Talk therapy is used to uncover why you drink and skills you can gain to help you to stop drinking and also find other coping mechanisms to replace alcohol.

Levels of Care

Below we list the levels of care and how they work for alcoholism treatment.

  • Intensive outpatient: You live fully at the facility with 24-hour medically directed care. This is the highest level of care for alcoholism use disorder. Many people also use these facilities to manage withdrawal when dealing with bad withdrawal symptoms.  
  • Residential: 24-hour inpatient facilities that can be either high or low in intensity. Typically this is known as the next level of care as you can begin here in high intensity and work your way down until you’re ready for outpatient facilities.
  • Intensive Outpatient or Partial Hospitalization: This level of care is when you have complex needs that need to be met, or have been hospitalized for your alcohol abuse. It’s also for when you have moved out of the inpatient facility and are continuing your road to recovery. You are partially back into society and settling into your new life but you still have the outpatient facility to guide you.
  • Outpatient facility: Considered to be very low in intensity and is mainly just routine meetings, medical checkups, or therapy visits. This is known as the final step before you fully reenter society. Some people will choose to remain at this step for many months or even years as they worry that by leaving the facility fully they may slip back into old habits. No matter how long you need treatment it will always be there for you.

What are the Professionals Involved in Treatment for Alcoholism?

At most alcohol rehabilitation facilities they’ll have a highly trained team of medical professionals there to assist in your recovery. These teams are typically made up of Nurse Practitioners, Interventionists, Physicians, Psychiatrists, Detox Specialists, Life coaches, Nutritionists, Pharmacists, and Support Group Leaders. Between all of these trained individuals, they can coordinate an effective and specialized rehabilitation plan that best suits you.

What are Some of the Most Effective Methods for Preventing Alcoholism?

The most effective method of preventing alcoholism is not to drink. Also, vitamins will help the body restore balance and feel healthy. Feeling healthy may negate the need or desire for someone to drink alcohol.

That said, for people who already consume large quantities of alcohol, there are methods to treat it.

The two best methods to treat alcoholism are therapy and medication. You can try talk therapy to work through your issues related to alcohol and how to solve them, or you can try recreational therapy to help let your guard down and learn some other coping mechanisms you can do. 

The other top method is medication. There are many medications such as Naltrexone and Antabuse to deter you from drinking more alcohol and to stop any addictive cravings you have. Many medications will help with withdrawal symptoms as well that they can provide for you in many rehabilitation centers. 

Some at-home vitamins you can take to help are Vitamins B, C, D3, and Magnesium Citrate. Alcohol drains your body of these vitamins and replenishing them yourself helps you to beat withdrawal and feel better faster.

Is Therapy Effective for Alcoholism?

Yes, many different types of therapy have proven to be highly effective in alcoholism treatment. Not all types of therapy are at every facility but every facility has at least one type of therapy. Talk therapy and recreational therapy are the two most common forms you’ll see, and both are effective. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral therapy are the most common methods of talk therapy.

Is Taking Medicine Effective for Alcoholism?

Yes, there are many different types of medications you can take to help you with your alcohol use disorder. There are medications to help to stop drinking, to help with withdrawal symptoms, and medications to stop the addictive craving you feel towards alcohol. When thinking about taking medication it’s important to contact your healthcare provider first or to speak to the one they have at the facility you’re in.

Do They Use any Medicine to Help Them Quit Drinking?

Yes, there are medications used to help deter you from drinking alcohol. Some of them are Naltrexone, Acamprosate, Antabuse, and many others. The way these medications work is by causing negative reactions when alcohol enters your system. It could be dizziness, nausea, or vomiting. They also stop the addictive cravings you feel and therefore help you with your alcohol use disorder.