Effective Treatment for Alcoholism

Contributor: Sonora Behavioral Health clinical team member Heather Wilk, MA, NCC

Person sitting on lake shore sad about AlcoholismWhen a person has an alcohol problem or battles alcoholism, the consequences that can ensue can wreak havoc on a person’s life. The manner in which an individual performs at work can be greatly affected as completing even the simplest tasks often come with obstacles.

Moreover, it can be quite difficult for a person to acquire or maintain steady employment should an individual’s consumption of alcohol interfere with the responsibilities that come with getting or having a job.

Academic and Work Pressures Combined With Alcoholism

For people who are enrolled in school, the capacity to learn new information is frequently diminished and failure in academic settings is sadly likely should an individual develop a serious problem with alcohol.

These are just a few of many effects that are known to occur when alcoholism is a dominant factor in a person’s daily life. Fortunately, there are many effective treatment options for individual’s battling an addiction to alcohol, treatment options that have saved the lives of countless men, women, and young people alike.

Options for Care

For anyone in need of substance abuse treatment for alcoholism, the first step towards a life free from the clutches of addiction is to recognize that one does not have control over his or her drinking and consider viable options for care that can start the recovery and healing process.

But how does one know what kind of treatment will produce the best results? Is there just one way to treat alcoholism? The best answers to these questions can be received from mental health professionals and/or addiction specialists who are trained and experienced in treating those battling addiction.

Individualization of Treatment for Alcoholism

surfer-497702_640What many, if not most, of these professionals will tell an individual is that there is not one single treatment option that will work for everyone, rather the person grappling with an addiction should seek assistance from a professional who can guide him or her towards selecting a treatment option that will meet his or her unique needs.

Selecting care that meets an individual where he or she is at in terms of his or her addiction, life, and what issues or problems are causing the most distress is what can make the difference between getting sober or relapsing shortly after treatment.

Studies on the Effectiveness of Treatments

Many studies have been conducted regarding the effectiveness of treatments that are currently available to treat alcoholism. The conclusions made in much of this research states that a multifaceted approach to treating alcohol abuse is best.

While it is not always necessary for all people who abuse alcohol, medical detoxification services may be required at the start of treatment in order for a person to safely withdraw from alcohol.

The Role of Detox

Also known as detox, these services are recommended for those who have a severe addiction to alcohol and need medical supervision in order to prevent health risks when withdrawal symptoms set in. Once these services are complete, a person can then embark on other interventions that are designed to foster healing.

The effectiveness of detox with the help of medical personnel is high such that it can prevent immediate relapse since it is done under the watchful eyes of those who can monitor a person’s health as toxic chemicals exit the body.

Behavioral Interventions and Care

People walking near a lake discussing AlcoholismOnce detoxification services are complete or if an individual does not require medical detox, there are many options for care than a person can choose from for the treatment of alcoholism.

Several studies convey the effectiveness of behavioral interventions, which stress the importance of changing one’s own behavior to prevent repeating maladaptive behaviors and avoid unfavorable outcomes.

Cognitive therapeutic interventions also reportedly show promise in treating alcoholism such that they can help addicts thwart maladaptive thinking that could keep them entwined in the cycle of addiction.

Group therapy, such as Alcoholic Anonymous, has also proved to be effective for alcoholics as they provide support and encouragement for remaining sober from others who have had similar struggles.

Pharmacological Interventions and Care

Lastly, there is a great deal of research that supports the use of pharmacological interventions when treating a severe alcohol dependence problem.

Naltrexone, which prevents an individual from feeling pleasant effects brought on by drinking, disulfiram, which triggers an adverse reaction should a person drink, and acamprosate, which can alleviate some withdrawal symptoms and emotional distress for addicts, are treatment options for those with a severe dependence on alcohol.

Pharmacological interventions are the most effective when they are used in conjunction with other types of effective interventions.

Different Treatment Approaches for Different People

silhouettes-279444_640As it has been stated, the resounding conclusion of research that examined the effectiveness of current alcohol treatments states that not one single type of treatment will work for all people who are battling an addiction to alcohol.

What is effective, however, is the inclusion of several treatment approaches when caring for those who wish to overcome alcoholism.

Behavioral and cognitive interventions (most often used in individual therapy), group therapy (to include support and psychoeducation groups), family therapy, and medical interventions (when they are necessary) is one of the best combinations that has produced favorable treatment outcomes for those who have gone through such treatment when compared to people who have completed treatment without all of these facets.

Treatment Is Always Available

If you feel that you or a loved one is in need of treatment to end an addiction to alcohol, whether it is mild, moderate, or severe, it is a good idea to consider options for care that involve many different treatment approaches.

By engaging in such care, an individual can come to realize the underlying reasons for his or her addiction, learn new skills for maintaining sobriety, and acquire the confidence in knowing that healing and recovery can be lasting.


[1] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment

[2] http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh334/295-299.pdf

About the Author:

Bio: “Effective Treatment for Alcoholism” was written by Sonora Behavioral Health clinical team member Heather Wilk, MA, NCC. Heather has several years of experience working in the field of mental health as a psychotherapist and has her Master’s degree in Community Counseling from Concordia University – Chicago.

Site Description:

Located in Tucson, Arizona, Sonora Behavioral Health is a 72-bed psychiatric hospital that provides care to children, adolescents, and adults who are struggling with acute behavioral healthcare conditions and co-occurring chemical dependency. Established in 1994, Sonora Behavioral Health provides inpatient and intensive outpatient services.

Treatment at Sonora Behavioral Health includes comprehensive assessment, short-term psychiatric treatment, medication management, and discharge planning services to clients and their families. Sonora Behavioral Health is also proud to offer the BRAVEST (Believing in Recovery for Active-duty Veterans to Ensure Success for Tomorrow) program, which is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of active duty military members, veterans, and their family members.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on January 31, 2015
Reviewed and Updated by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 7, 2021
Published on AddictionHope.com