Alcoholism Addiction Treatment

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  November 07 ,
| 4 Sources

A variety of alcoholism addiction treatment options are available to address the physical and psychological components of the disease.

The first step to breaking the addiction is to seek the counsel of a healthcare provider and/or addiction therapy specialist who has the expertise to make an evaluation and design a treatment program, based on individual needs.

Like all addictions, treating alcohol dependence is complex and there is no one-size-fits-all formula to facilitate recovery.

Depending on circumstances, treatment may involve one or more of the following: intervention, residential or outpatient program, counseling, medication, nutrition management, and/or ongoing support program participation.

To successfully recover from an addiction, external treatment is usually necessary and often includes different alcoholism addiction treatment approaches to achieve positive outcomes and sustain long-term management of the disease.

Following is a summary of alcohol addiction treatment options.


Brief interventions may be utilized when alcohol consumption is abusive or dangerous to the drinker -- or those around him or her. Goals typically include:

  • Moderating drinking activity
  • Establishing specific behavioral goals
  • Building necessary skills to change drinking behavior

Interventions usually consist of one to four counseling sessions by a trained interventionist who may be a doctor, psychologist, or social worker.

Strategies such as motivational interviewing are used to persuade resistant individuals who do not believe their drinking is harmful or hazardous.

Residential Programs

Residential or inpatient alcoholism addiction treatment programs provide medical detoxification, in-depth therapy, and education to help rehabilitate alcohol-dependent individuals.

Program duration varies from one week to months, according to the needs of the individual. The environment is highly structured and medical professionals are available around the clock.

Inpatient treatment most often benefits alcoholics who have not succeeded in outpatient programs, lack healthy social networks and/or suffer from serious physical or mental health conditions from consumption.


Outpatient Programs

Outpatient alcoholism addiction treatment programs enable individuals to receive treatment without staying overnight in a rehabilitation facility.

An outpatient approach may be recommended in place of residential options or designed to serve as maintenance therapy after inpatient treatment is completed.

For this reason, the duration, intensity and type of outpatient programs vary significantly. Some feature daily 8-hour treatment sessions; while, others may have individuals attend for a few hours three or more days or evenings a week.

Treatment typically includes a combination of drug and behavioral education, individual and group counseling, and educational support for caregivers.


Peer support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Smart Recovery, Secular Sobriety, Women for Sobriety and others help alcoholics discuss and address their addiction in a non-threatening community that provides encouragement, support and a social outlet.

In addition, there are online support groups for alcoholism addiction treatment that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Each self-help organization offers a slightly different philosophy and approach – yet all focus on abstinence-based recovery and a well-defined set of principles for peer support. Involvement is voluntary and meetings take place on a regular basis.

Participation in addiction support groups may follow residential or out-patient treatment and is often used in conjunction with different types of therapy and/or medication.

  • For information on the types of psychosocial therapy used to treat alcoholism, take a look at our our types of therapy section.
  • To learn about the use of medication in alcoholism addiction treatment programs, take a look at our role of medication section.

Finding an Appropriate Alcoholism Addiction Treatment Program

To seek help for yourself or a family member, make an appointment with your healthcare provider or counselor to discuss signs, symptoms and treatment options. There are also resource organizations that provide referrals and assistance in seeking treatment for alcohol abuse or dependence. 

  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) provides a toll-free, 24-hour treatment referral service to help you locate treatment options near you. For a referral to a treatment center or support group in your area, call (800) 662-HELP, (800) 662-9832 (Español), or (800)228-0427 (TDD).
  • The American Council on Alcoholism (ACA) is another referral service for individuals seeking alcoholism addiction treatment and recovery. To find local treatment programs and support groups, call (800) 527-5344.
  • The National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service provides a toll-free telephone number, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), offering various resource information.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

Sources: (1)National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2), Evidence-Based Treatment and Support (3) Moyer, A., and Finney, J.W. Brief interventions for alcohol problems: Factors that facilitate implementation. Alcohol Research & Health 28 :44–50, 2004/2005.(4) Moyer, A.; Finney, J.W.; Swearingen, C.E.; and Vergun, P. Brief interventions for alcohol problems: A meta-analytic review of controlled investigations in treatment-seeking and non-treatment-seeking populations. Addiction 97:279–292, 2002. (5) Miller, W.R., and Rollnick, S. Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People for Change. New York: Guilford Press, 2002.

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