Table of contents
Are you seeking alcohol treatment for yourself or a loved one? This resource page will provide you with everything you need to know, from treatment and payment options, differences between inpatient and outpatient programs, finding a treatment center, and taking the first steps. If you’re here seeking information for a friend or family member, we’ve also included resources on how to help a friend or family member, along with intervention strategies.
We hope this page helps you make a decision to choose recovery. Explore the information, and if you have questions, please call us right away, and we’ll answer any questions you have about getting treatment for alcoholism, going through detox, or the rehab experience.
There are many types of alcohol treatment programs available. These include:
- Medical Detox – This is usually the first step in the active treatment program, where you rid the body of alcohol and toxins through an assisted detox program that addresses the dangers and symptoms of withdrawal that will be experienced.
- Inpatient Treatment – Also referred to as residential treatment, inpatient treatment requires living at a rehab center while you participate in a recovery program.
- Outpatient Treatment – Also referred to as OP, outpatient programs offer a more independent option for treatment. Instead of living at a facility, you live at home, and may continue to work, as treatment sessions are scheduled around your life.
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment – Also known as IOP, this level of care is for patients who want outpatient care, but require more assistance in their recovery, committing to treatment and support most days of the week.
- Partial Hospitalization Program – This program is for people who have completed residential care, and are ready to go to the next stage of assistance, but with more responsibility on themselves.
Taking your first steps
Taking your first steps toward treatment is as simple as making a phone call.
As part of your initial treatment program, you’ll go through a medical detox program. Our staff will assist you in becoming free from alcohol and other toxins so you can begin your recovery in the best way possible.
Alcohol treatment medications
Some of the medications used in alcohol treatment programs can include meds that help reduce alcohol cravings, reduce withdrawal symptoms, or create negative effects when alcohol is consumed. These medications include:
- Acamprosate – Reduces alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
- Naltrexone – Reduce cravings for alcohol.
- Disulfiram – Produces undesirable effects such as headaches, naseau, or vomiting when alcohol is consumed.
Inpatient vs outpatient alcohol rehab
Inpatient VS Outpatient is an important consideration when choosing a treatment program. If you’re wondering if outpatient treatment is the right choice for you, this article may help you decide. The choice ultimately comes down to your time availability, and money. Can you afford to stop everything in your life for inpatient treatment? Or, if you need to maintain your job and other commitments, maybe outpatient treatment makes more sense.
Take a look at The Recovery Village’s Outpatient Treatment Program.
Take a look at The Recovery Village’s Residential Inpatient Treatment Program.
Finding a treatment center
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services offers a treatment facility locator to help you find a treatment facility near you.
Treatment costs and payment options
You may be wondering how much rehab costs and is it worth the price? Inpatient treatment is generally more expensive than outpatient treatment. In addition, depending on the severity of your addiction, and your ability to adhere to the treatment program, it may take some time to recover. The more time you spend in rehab, the more it will cost. Many people transition from detox to inpatient treatment, to continued outpatient treatment, then to a sober living environment.
Alcoholism and treatment stats & research
Statistics on alcohol treatment show that overall, more Americans seek treatment for alcohol abuse than for any other drug. What are the current figures on alcohol treatment and the latest trends in recovery?
Advances in medical research have given addiction specialists new insight into the treatment of alcoholism. However, the Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report states that alcohol abuse remains the third leading preventable cause of death in the US, in spite of innovations in behavioral modification, psychotherapy, and addiction medication. The following studies and statistics reflect the power of this disease:
- Binge drinking has become the most widespread form of alcohol abuse in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over 30 million adults in the US (approximately 15 percent) admit to binge drinking within the past month. Most of these drinkers are white males ages 18 to 34. Forty percent of college students report episodes of binge drinking.
- Although the CDC notes that most binge drinkers are not chemically dependent on alcohol, this pattern of alcohol consumption greatly increases the risk that they will advance to full-blown alcoholism.
- The Foundation for a Drug-Free World reports that more teenagers die as a result of abusing alcohol than any other drug. Drug abuse is more common among teens who drink than the rest of the adolescent population. Over 30 percent of heavy drinkers over age 11 also use illicit drugs like marijuana, cocaine, or heroin.
- Globally, alcohol abuse accounted for nearly 6 percent of all deaths (approximately 3.3 million) in 2012, according to the World Health Organization.
- The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) states that over 185,000 of Americans who received emergency treatment for alcohol abuse were age 12 to 20. Approximately 20 percent of these emergency room visits required serious medical treatment, such as hospital admission or transfer to another medical center, or death.
- There is a strong correlation between alcohol abuse and violent crimes like assault, armed robbery, rape, and homicide. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that in up to half of all murders, the perpetrator consumed alcohol before committing the crime. Approximately 33 percent of sexual assault victims state that their assailant was under the influence of alcohol. In violent crimes where alcohol is involved, up to 60 percent of victims are injured or killed.
- Individuals with alcoholism or another substance use disorder are six times more likely to attempt suicide at least once in their lives, according to Psychiatric Times. The risk of suicide is even greater among people who suffer from a co-occurring disorder like major depression, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
- The Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) report for 1998 to 2008 indicates that 41 percent of Americans admitted for substance abuse treatment were treated for alcohol dependence as their primary drug of abuse. Twenty-three percent of these admissions were treated only for alcohol abuse, and 18 percent were treated for alcohol along with other drugs.
- According to Alcohol Research and Health, over 700,000 Americans are treated for alcoholism. Some of the most successful treatment strategies include rehab programs based on 12-step principles, new medications for alcohol dependence, and specialized dual diagnosis treatment for patients with co-occurring disorders.
- Alcohol Health & Research World notes that outpatient alcohol detox programs can be as safe and effective as inpatient detox, as long as the patients have been professionally screened and matched to the right level of care. With outpatient treatment, the average length of stay in rehab is usually shorter, and the cost is generally less. However, for patients at risk of serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or for those with co-occurring medical or psychiatric disorders, inpatient alcohol detox is more appropriate.
- Patient-centered, collaborative therapies like motivational interviewing (MI) have proven to be more effective at retaining patients in alcohol treatment than older, more confrontational styles. In a study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, alcoholics who received this encouraging, patient-centered form of therapy during the intake process were more likely to remain in treatment than those who were approached using traditional therapeutic styles.
- Nalmefene, an opiate antagonist that is similar in its chemical structure to naltrexone, is one of the most recent drugs being investigated for the treatment of alcoholism. Like naltrexone (sold as ReVia, Depade, or Vivitrol), nalmefene deprives the alcoholic of the pleasurable feelings associated with drinking. But nalmefene is less toxic to the liver than naltrexone. As of 2013, nalmefene was still undergoing clinical trials through the U.S. National Institutes of Health before receiving FDA approval.
Helping a loved one
It can be heartbreaking to realize that your loved one has a problem with alcohol. You want to do anything you can to help — but you’re afraid that if you speak up, you could destroy your relationship or drive your loved one deeper into addiction. At first, it’s much easier to deny the problem. But as time goes on, and the personal, financial, or legal problems increase, you’ll have to face the possibility that your loved one could be an alcoholic. Learning to recognize the red flags of alcoholism could not only save your relationship, it could help you avoid a tragedy.
Types of alcoholics
Cultural stereotypes of the alcoholic tend to focus on the Skid Row drunk: homeless, impoverished, and unemployed. But current research has replaced this stereotype with more realistic portraits of the most typical subtypes of alcoholics. The results of a national study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence showed that there are five basic types of alcoholics in the US. The descriptions of these subtypes, all of whom meet the criteria for alcohol dependence, may surprise you:
Approximately 31 percent of alcoholics in the US are young adults in their late teens, 20s, or early 30s. These alcoholics usually do not seek treatment for alcohol abuse, in spite of problems with school, work, relationships, or finances.
Around 21 percent of alcoholics are in their 20s, but they started drinking much earlier. Many come from families where one or more adults abused alcohol or drugs. The majority of people in this group have at least one co-occurring psychiatric disorder, such as antisocial personality disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety. Most abuse other drugs in addition to alcohol. Approximately 33 percent seek treatment for alcoholism; some of these individuals are referred to rehab by the correctional system.
Just under 20 percent of American alcoholics fall into this category. They are usually in their 30s to 50s, financially stable, and employed. Most are well educated. About a third have a family history of alcoholism, and some have a history of depression. Because they are able to maintain an appearance of success, many do not seek help unless the consequences of their drinking force them to confront the disease.
Intermediate with family history
Approximately 19 percent of the alcoholics in the US are middle-aged, and approximately half of these individuals have an extensive family history of alcoholism. About 50 percent also have a history of depression or bipolar disorder. Roughly one-fourth of this subtype have sought alcohol treatment.
Chronic or severe
This subtype represents only 9 percent of US alcoholics, yet more members of this group seek treatment (almost two-thirds) than any other category. Chronic, severe alcoholics have fought a long battle with this disease, and most are now middle-aged. The majority of people in this group have a co-occurring psychiatric disorder, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety disorders. Many also abuse other drugs, like cocaine or opiates
Physical signs of alcoholism
How can you spot the signs of alcohol abuse? The most obvious side effects may reflected in your loved one’s physical health and appearance. As you review these symptoms, check off the boxes that apply:
- Tremors that improve after your loved one has a drink
- Noticeable weight loss or gain
- Chronically bloodshot or watery eyes
- Heavy perspiration without physical activity
- An odor of alcohol on the breath or skin
- A puffy, bloated look
- Slurred speech
- A loss of motor coordination or balance
- Increased bruising (from accidental injuries and fragile blood vessels)
- Changes in skin complexion (unusually pale, ruddy, or jaundiced)
- Frequent complaints of stomach pain, nausea, or heartburn
Emotional/behavioral signs of alcohol addiction
Alcohol addiction affects an individual’s moods, behavior, and self-expression. Look for these significant changes in your loved one’s actions or emotions:
- A lack of control over when, where, or how much he or she drinks
- An increased tolerance for alcohol, or the need for more drinks to get the same effects
- A disheveled appearance in someone who used to be neatly groomed
- Making excuses for his or her drinking, or denying the problem completely (“I wouldn’t drink if I weren’t so stressed,” “I’ll cut back after this project is done,” or “I’m not an alcoholic. If you want to see a real alcoholic, look at my father.”)
- Neglecting important relationships, family commitments, or work responsibilities as a result of drinking or being hungover
- Unusual irritability, depression, or moodiness, especially when he or she can’t drink
- Isolating herself from other people in order to drink more
- Dramatic changes in personality when he or she drinks, such as becoming more affectionate, emotional, or angry
- Lying about his or her drinking, or hiding bottles around the house or in the car to conceal the amount that he or she consumes
- Feeling guilty or remorseful after a drinking episode, yet being unable to stop
- Trying repeatedly to quit, and relapsing back to alcohol use
What to do if your loved one needs help
If you checked one to three boxes from each of the two checklists, there’s a strong chance that your loved one has an alcohol problem. However, some of these signs could also be red flags for a mental or physical illness. Encourage your loved one to be evaluated by a physician or therapist. Talk to him or her about alcohol abuse, and express your support for further treatment, such as therapy, counseling, or a 12-step program.
If you checked off four to six boxes from each list, your loved one meets the criteria for alcohol addiction. Although he or she may still appear to be functioning normally at work, school, or home, there is a strong risk that the disease will progress to more serious consequences, such as illness, legal problems, or an accident. If you haven’t confronted your loved one with the problem, it’s time to have that talk. Meanwhile, seek advice from a substance abuse counselor or family therapist about how to get your loved one into a residential alcohol treatment facility or an intensive outpatient program.
Checking seven or more boxes from each list indicates that someone you care about is an alcoholic, probably in the later stages of the disease. Not only your loved one, but everyone else in your household is at risk of severe harm. Talk with a substance abuse counselor who specializes in intervention about arranging a formal meeting to confront the problem. At this stage, it’s imperative to get your loved one into treatment as soon as possible. Working with an intervention specialist is the most effective way to help you and your family recover your safety, health, and sanity.
How to decide on a course of treatment?
In the past, alcohol rehab programs provided a standardized set of treatments for each patient, regardless of age, gender, psychiatric history, or demographic group. Today, alcohol treatment has become more specialized in order to meet the needs of a diverse, highly varied group of patients. Choosing a course of treatment has become more complicated, but the results of a careful search are likely to be more successful — and more satisfying to the individual.
As you research the different treatment options for alcoholism, you’ll find that there are several levels of care available. A doctor, substance abuse therapist, or counselor should help you and your loved one choose the level that’s right for you:
Inpatient or residential treatment is the most intensive level of care, with round-the-clock monitoring and clinical management to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and provide structure. After the detox phase, the patient lives at the facility full-time while receiving therapy, group counseling, medication management, holistic therapies, and other services.
After completing a residential program, a patient who is stable in his or her sobriety may be transferred to a partial hospitalization program. In this intensive form of outpatient therapy, the patient lives in transitional housing or at home while attending classes, counseling sessions, and appointments with medical professionals during the day.
Outpatient treatment is the most flexible level of care. Recovery services are provided in a day center, clinic, rehab facility, or other location, while the patient lives at home. Outpatients can participate in detox, counseling, therapy, 12-step programming, and other recovery services without giving up their self-determination. This level of care is recommended for patients who have completed an inpatient program, or for medically stable individuals who have a high level of motivation to reach sobriety.
Within each general category of alcohol treatment, there are a number of different approaches to recovery. To find the right approach, consider the individual’s values, mental health status, personality, and cultural background:
Traditional alcohol treatment programs rely on evidence-based strategies such as psychotherapy, behavioral modification therapy, peer group counseling, nutritional counseling, and 12-step programs. Rehabilitation begins with detox, a cleansing process that allows the patient to withdraw safely and comfortably from alcohol. After detox, the patient participates in a structured series of therapies that are designed to help him or her modify destructive behaviors and create a sober life.
Holistic recovery programs focus not just on treating alcoholism as a physical or psychological disease, but on healing the body, mind, and spirit. In addition to the core components of alcohol rehab — individual and group therapy, family counseling, 12-step meetings, and behavioral modification — treatment addresses the patient’s spiritual and emotional needs through activities like art therapy, recreational therapy, guided meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and massage. The goal of holistic therapy is to promote healing on all levels so the patient can build a meaningful, rewarding life.
Integrated alcohol treatment programs are designed for patients who meet the criteria for a substance use disorder and a form of mental illness. In a national study of co-occurring disorders, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 37 percent of individuals with alcohol dependence also suffered from a mental health disorder, while over 50 percent of individuals who abused drugs also had a psychiatric illness. These patients face unique obstacles in recovery, such as low motivation, anxiety about new situations, poor concentration, and delusional thinking. Integrated treatment, which targets both the patient’s mental illness and substance use disorder within the same program, is the most effective way to achieve a full recovery. Services for both issues are provided at a single facility, by staff members who are cross-trained in substance abuse treatment and mental health.
Choosing a specific option
Once you’ve selected the right level of care and the best therapeutic approach, it’s time to consider the specifics of treatment. Consider the unique circumstances of the alcoholic and the family, including the following factors:
Types of addiction
The program should focus on the patient’s primary drug of abuse, as well as any secondary substances that he or she is using. Co-occurring conditions such as depression, a personality disorder, an anxiety disorder, or an eating disorder must also be targeted in treatment.
Children and teens have different needs and issues than adults, and this rule definitely applies in rehab. The adolescent brain is in a unique stage of development, and the life experiences of a child or teen are typically more limited than those of a young adult, middle-aged person, or senior citizen.
Gender and sexuality
Gender-specific programs allow patients to focus on their recovery program without social pressures or distractions. They also enable the participants to concentrate on the unique issues presented by gender or sexual orientation, such as social pressure, prejudice, or violence.
Profession and social status
Exposure to other demographic groups in treatment can be an equalizing experience, demonstrating the reality of alcoholism as a universal disease. On the other hand, some patients feel more comfortable and can express themselves more effectively in settings where they can associate with their peers. Professional patients have unique stressors and needs that can be more effectively addressed in specialized programs.
Religion, culture, and values
A program with principles that contradict the patient’s religious beliefs or personal values is unlikely to be effective. For instance, a patient who objects to spiritually based recovery probably won’t be comfortable at a facility that places a strong emphasis on 12-step programming. When choosing a treatment facility, look for a program that meshes with the individual’s spiritual nature and cultural heritage.
Location and amentities
As you research alcohol treatment programs, consider the location of the facility. Do you prefer to remain close to home and work, or could you recover more effectively with some distance from the stresses of your daily life? Are luxury amenities important, or are you more at ease with modest yet comfortable accommodations?
Ideally, the cost of a program shouldn’t be your first concern. But in reality, cost is a big consideration for most patients. The treatment plan you choose should reflect your financial resources, budget, and insurance status.
When it comes to choosing the right addiction treatment program, a compassionate admissions counselor can be a valuable guide. Call The Recovery Village at any time for information on our unique, specialized treatment services.