Treatment for Alcoholism

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  MARCH 26 ,
| 3 Sources

Treatment for alcoholism should consist of several core components. The most effective alcoholism treatment programs include all of these elements. If you are in a treatment program that doesn’t, you should look for the missing part(s) elsewhere.

A comprehensive program that we’ll outline here will give you the best chance of success.

Individual Counseling

Individual counseling is highly recommended, but some alcoholism treatment programs don’t include it. They rely instead on group counseling. Group counseling is an important part of an effective program, but individual counseling is needed as well.

Individual counseling is, obviously, where individuals will be able to focus on their own issues. They can work on the issues that led them to drink in the first place.

If individual counseling is not a part of your treatment program, you should see a counselor on your own. Make sure to select a counselor with training and experience in treating the disease of alcoholism.

Group Counseling

Group counseling is an important part of the treatment for alcoholism. It allows group members to give and receive support from others with similar experiences. Group members can learn from one another. Group work also lessens the shame of being an alcoholic.

Group counseling is different than self-help groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) because it is facilitated by a professional counselor. While self-help groups can be useful, group counseling is a critical component of any treatment program.


Alcoholics need to learn about their disease. They need to be taught a number of coping skills, such as stress management and problem-solving. They need to learn about relapse prevention.

Nutritional Counseling

Not all alcoholism treatment programs include nutritional education and counseling, but it is important for alcoholics. Many alcoholics suffer from malnutrition, particularly vitamin B deficiencies.

Cravings for sugar often accompany cravings for alcohol. Proper nutrition helps to heal damaged organs and can even help decrease cravings for alcohol.

There is a school of thought that recommends a variety of nutritional supplements in the treatment for alcoholism. Few treatment programs use this protocol, however. Even so, good nutrition should be encouraged.

Residential treatment programs should provide healthy, tasty meals. All treatment programs should include information about good nutrition. If you are in a treatment program that doesn’t, you should see a dietitian on your own.

Family Counseling and Education

Family counseling is a very important component in the treatment for alcoholism. Family relationships are often fractured by the disease. The alcoholic often withdraws from the family as he or she focuses more and more on alcohol. He or she often lies to family member about the drinking. Families often fight about the scope of the alcohol problem.

Family members also need to be educated about the disease of alcoholism. They need to learn how they can support the alcoholic in recovery. They and the alcoholic need to learn positive communication skills.


All alcoholism treatment programs should include aftercare. Aftercare may consist of individual counseling, group counseling, and/or self-help groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). A good aftercare program helps to prevent relapse.

How often the alcoholic should attend an aftercare program depends on their individual needs. Some need to attend an outpatient treatment program for several hours a day, several days a week. For others, one or two short sessions a week is enough.

Other Treatment for Alcoholism

There are other alcoholism treatment therapies that can be helpful. These include self-help groups like AA and adjunct therapies like art therapy, music therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture. While these modes of treatment can be helpful, they are usually not necessary to the treatment of alcoholism.

More than treatment for alcoholism on our types of alcoholism page

Alcoholism home page

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