There are a number of alcoholism treatments, and not every treatment for alcoholism works for every alcoholic. It may be necessary to try several different treatments, or a combination of treatments, in order for the alcoholic to begin the process of recovery. It should be noted that alcoholism is generally not considered a curable disease, but a disease that can be managed with treatment.
Here are some of the common alcoholism treatments.
This is where the alcoholic meets with a counselor one-on-one. In an inpatient setting, the alcoholic may meet with the counselor every day or several times a week. If the alcoholic is being treated on an outpatient basic, they may meet with the counselor only once a week.
The counselor may be a social worker, psychologist, or other licensed professional. The counselor should be trained and experienced in dealing with the disease of alcoholism. Peer counseling, where an alcoholic in recovery serves the role of counselor, is sometimes used as a treatment for alcoholism, but we recommend seeking someone with special training and who is licensed in their field.
In individual counseling, the alcoholic can explore the issues that led up to their excessive drinking. While many experts believe there is a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, life experiences definitely play a part in the development of the disease. Individual counseling is an ideal place to face up to those experiences and learn new ways of coping with painful feelings.
Group counseling is a very effective treatment for alcoholism. In fact, it is one of the most common alcoholism treatments. It is where a number of alcoholics meet together with a professional counselor to work on their problems. Group counseling may include some education about the disease of alcoholism, but that is not the main purpose of the counseling sessions.
In group counseling, alcoholics are able to give and receive support from others in similar situations. By hearing the stories of others, they will feel less alone and the shame associated with alcoholism will lessen.
Most people are familiar with twelve step programs such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). Twelve step programs are one of the most popular alcoholism treatments. They are self-help groups, meaning they are not led by professional counselors. Instead, alcoholics come together to help themselves and each other.
Twelve step programs consist of twelve steps that lead up to recovery. Members of the group work the steps with the help and guidance of a sponsor, a group member who has been involved in the program for some time and is further along in the steps. The sponsor is like a mentor for the newer member.
Twelve step groups have many of the benefits of group counseling: members of the group give and receive support, learn from one another, and make connections that lessen loneliness and shame. These groups are extremely beneficial to many alcoholics. However, they are not for everyone.
The first of the twelve steps is admitting you are powerless over alcohol. Some alcoholics and professionals believe that this is a harmful belief. They believe the alcoholic needs to accept that they can be in control of their own life. An alcoholic considering using a twelve step program as a treatment for alcoholism should examine the steps and discuss them with their doctor or counselor to determine if a twelve step program is right for them.
Earlier we mentioned that some education may take place during group counseling sessions, but that is usually not sufficient. Educational sessions are very important so that the alcoholic learns about their illness and about new ways to cope and prevent relapse. It may be helpful for family members to attend educational sessions as well, so that they have a better understanding of alcoholism and how to best support their loved one.
Education by itself is not a complete treatment for alcoholism, but it works well when combined with other alcoholism treatments.