July 20, 2023

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

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Alcohol addiction treatment offers people the chance to break free from the destructive cycle of alcohol abuse, regain control of their lives, and improve their physical and mental well-being. Through comprehensive treatment approaches, individuals can develop the necessary skills, coping mechanisms, and support systems to achieve and sustain long-term recovery.

Help for you or a loved one is only one call away.

This guide illustrates what is involved with alcohol withdrawal syndrome treatment and outlines how to connect with alcohol addiction treatments and alcohol addiction medication in Southern California.

How Common is Alcohol Addiction?

According to data from NDSUH 2021 (National Survey on Drug Use and Health), approximately 29.5 million adults in the United States had a diagnosable alcohol use disorder in 2021, highlighting the significant prevalence and impact of this condition. These findings underscore the need for effective alcohol addiction treatment and support services to address this widespread public health concern.

Symptoms of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a nonclinical term for AUD (alcohol use disorder). AUD can be diagnosed using specific criteria outlined in the DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth revised edition). A healthcare professional like a psychiatrist or addiction specialist assesses symptoms and behaviors to determine if the person meets the diagnostic criteria for AUD.

The DSM-5 criteria for alcohol use disorder include a range of symptoms related to alcohol consumption, impaired control, social and occupational impairment, risky use, and physiological dependence. To receive a diagnosis of AUD, an individual must meet a certain number of criteria within the past 12 months.

Physical Symptoms of Alcoholism

  • Alcohol is often consumed in larger amounts than planned or for longer than intended.
  • A great deal of time is invested in obtaining and drinking alcohol, as well as recovering from its effects.
  • Ongoing alcohol use triggering a failure to fulfill personal or professional role obligations.
  • Important activities are given up or moderated due to alcohol use.
  • Recurrent alcohol use in potentially dangerous situations.
  • Tolerance, defined by either a need for more alcohol to achieve the initial effects, or diminished effects with the same amount of alcohol.

Mental Symptoms of Alcoholism

  • Unsuccessful efforts are made to cut down or control alcohol use.
  • Cravings or strong urges to use alcohol.
  • Continued alcohol use in the face of persistent social and interpersonal problems caused or inflamed by the effects of alcohol.
  • Alcohol use is continued despite a recurrent psychological or physical condition that is triggered or exacerbated by alcohol.
  • Withdrawal, as manifested by alcohol withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation. Withdrawal also has a strong physical component.
people are consoling a man to represent alcohol addiction treatment

Alcoholism Treatment Options

Treating alcoholism involves a range of approaches aimed at helping individuals overcome their alcohol addiction and achieve long-term recovery. 

Inpatient treatment involves residing in a specialized facility where individuals receive intensive, structured care. It provides a supportive environment with 24/7 supervision, therapy, counseling, and access to various treatment modalities.

Outpatient treatment offers flexibility, allowing people to live at home while attending scheduled treatment sessions. It can include individual counseling, group therapy, educational programs, and support groups. Outpatient programs are suitable for individuals with a stable and supportive home environment.

Various therapy approaches, such as CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy), MI (motivational interviewing), and family therapy, can be employed to address underlying issues, develop coping skills, modify destructive behaviors, and support long-term recovery.

Support groups like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) provide a platform for individuals to connect with others who have faced similar challenges. These groups offer a sense of community, guidance, and ongoing support in maintaining sobriety.

Alcoholism Treatment Medication

Medication can be an essential component of alcoholism treatment, assisting individuals in managing cravings, reducing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and preventing relapse. Some common medications used in the treatment of alcoholism include:

  • Disulfiram: This medication creates an unpleasant reaction when alcohol is consumed, acting as a deterrent to drinking.
  • Naltrexone: Naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects of alcohol and reduces cravings, helping individuals maintain sobriety.
  • Acamprosate: Acamprosate helps individuals in early recovery by reducing withdrawal symptoms and minimizing the urge to drink.
  • Benzodiazepines: In certain cases, short-term use of benzodiazepines (benzos) may be prescribed during alcohol detox to manage severe withdrawal symptoms and prevent complications.

Alcohol Detox

Alcohol detoxification, commonly known as alcohol detox, is the process of allowing the body to eliminate alcohol and manage the withdrawal symptoms that arise when alcohol consumption is abruptly stopped. Alcohol detox typically occurs under medical supervision to ensure safety and minimize discomfort. Medical professionals may administer medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and provide supportive care throughout the detox process.

Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal can be a potentially dangerous and life-threatening condition, particularly in cases of heavy, prolonged alcohol use. Some potential dangers and complications of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • DTs (delirium tremens): DTs is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal characterized by rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, fever, confusion, hallucinations, and seizures. It requires immediate medical attention.
  • Seizures: Alcohol withdrawal seizures can occur within 12 to 48 hours after cessation of drinking, posing a significant health risk.
  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances: Withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, sweating, and diarrhea, can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, requiring proper hydration and medical monitoring.
  • Psychological symptoms: Alcohol withdrawal can cause intense anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings, impacting overall mental well-being.

Those with alcohol dependence should seek professional help when quitting alcohol to ensure a safe and supportive environment for detoxification and to manage potential withdrawal complications effectively.


What is the first step in the treatment of alcoholism?

The first step in the treatment of alcoholism is typically detoxification, which involves safely managing withdrawal symptoms and eliminating alcohol from the body.

What is the most effective treatment for alcohol dependence?

The most effective alcohol dependence treatment varies for each individual, but it often involves a combination of medication, therapy, and support groups tailored to the person’s specific needs and circumstances.

What are the 7 steps to overcome alcoholism?

The 7 steps to overcome alcoholism can vary depending on the treatment approach, but they may include acknowledging the problem, seeking professional help, participating in detoxification, engaging in therapy and counseling, attending support groups, developing coping strategies, and maintaining a commitment to sobriety.

an image of people who got help dealing with alcohol withdrawal

Get Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

Access evidence-based alcohol addiction treatment at Gratitude Lodge in Long Beach and Newport Beach, CA. Our supervised alcohol detox program offers the safest and most comfortable route to detox and ongoing recovery from alcoholism. You can then move directly into a 30-day residential rehab program.

All Gratitude Lodge treatment programs utilize the following interventions:

To move from alcoholism into ongoing recovery, call 888-861-1658.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Russe MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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