Depending on the extent of the program, alcoholism rehabilitation refers to the medical, educational,
social, and/or psychotherapeutic treatment processes required for alcoholism recovery.
The ultimate goal of alcoholism rehabilitation is to help the alcoholic refrain from drinking alcohol so
that he or she can avoid the financial, legal, emotional, social, and physical consequences that are typically
associated with alcoholism.
Tolerance and the Alcoholism Rehabilitation Process
With the regular consumption of alcohol, the brain gradually adjusts to the alcohol so that normal functioning
This not only explains how physical tolerance develops but it also explains why more and more alcohol is
required to get the same "buzz" or "high" with regular use.
When an individual suddenly stops drinking alcohol, however, he or she typically encounters alcohol withdrawal
symptoms that may require days or weeks to go by before the body returns to "normal."
The alcoholism rehabilitation process has two main components: physical dependency and psychological
Treating physical dependency generally involves two processes: controlling the alcohol withdrawal symptoms in a
safe manner and initiating the alcohol detoxification process that is necessary in order for the body to rid itself
Dealing with psychological dependency, on the other hand, typically involves teaching the alcoholic new ways of
interacting in an alcohol-free environment.
Types of Alcoholism Rehabilitation Programs
There are a variety of programs that facilitate the alcoholism rehabilitation process such as residential
treatment (in-patient), local support groups, extended care centers, out-patient, and sober houses.
Within these programs are different sub-programs such as therapeutic community alcohol rehab programs,
Alcoholics Anonymous, religious-based rehab, and medical model rehab programs.
Alcoholism Rehab Success Stories
The Success of Alcoholism Rehab Services and Programs. Not unlike other diseases and illnesses, alcohol
addiction can be overcome with proper treatment, prevention, and increased research efforts.
By providing more individuals with access to effective care, the costly drain on society and the physical,
financial, and emotional burdens it places on families can be significantly reduced or minimized.
To illustrate some of the successes that are possible with different alcoholism rehab programs, consider the
following: research has shown irrefutably that professional alcoholism rehab treatment and successful prevention
results in significant reductions in traffic fatalities, cancer, HIV, unwanted pregnancy, hearth disease, crime,
child abuse, and strokes.
Not only this, but quality treatment and effective drug and alcoholism rehab programs have been shown to improve
health, quality of life, and job performance while at the same time reducing drug use, family dysfunction, and
involvement with the criminal justice system.
Traditional Alcoholism Rehabilitation Approaches
There are several traditional alcoholism rehab approaches that are relatively well established and widely
available. The following is a description of these different alcoholism rehab programs.
Detoxification. Alcohol detoxification is the process of letting the body rid itself of alcohol
while managing the withdrawal symptoms in a harmless atmosphere. Alcohol detox treatment is usually done under the
supervision of a medical doctor and is often the first step employed in an alcoholism treatment protocol.
Since detox programs usually have a relatively long therapeutic time frame, these approaches are typically part
of an inpatient, residential alcoholism rehab program.
Behavioral Rehab. This approach to rehab focuses mainly on initiating different ways of
altering a person's actions and behaviors.
Examples include Alcoholics Anonymous, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Motivation Enhancement Therapy.
It is interesting to note that a study administered by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
discovered that each of these behavioral rehab approaches greatly reduced drinking in alcoholics one year after
Although all of these programs were considered "successful," none of them, however, could be singled out as "the
best" alcoholism rehab program.
Therapeutic Medications. This rehab methodology centers on the client taking doctor-prescribed
drugs such as disulfiram (Antabuse) or naltrexone (ReViaT) to help prevent the alcoholic from returning to drinking
after he or she has consumed alcohol. Stated differently, in this approach, doctors prescribe medications to treat
an alcoholic's alcoholism.
For instance, Antabuse is a drug given to alcoholics that elicits negative responses such as flushing,
dizziness, vomiting, and nausea if alcohol is consumed.
Antabuse is effective, to a great extent, however, because it is a strong deterrent. Naltrexone (ReViaT), on the
other hand, is employed in an entirely different manner in that it targets the brain's reward circuits as it
effectively reduces the craving the alcoholic has for alcohol.
Outpatient Alcohol Treatment and Counseling. These are usually rehab approaches that teach
alcoholics how to become aware of the situational and psychological "hot buttons" that trigger their drinking
Equipped with this information, alcoholics can learn about different ways in which they can cope with situations
that do not include the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol rehab programs such as these, unlike detox rehab
approaches, are usually offered on an outpatient basis.
Residential Alcohol Treatment Programs and Inpatient Alcohol Rehab. If the individual's
withdrawal symptoms are too severe, if the individual needs alcohol poisoning treatment, if outpatient and
support-oriented programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous are not effective, or if there's a need for alcohol AND drug
abuse rehab, the person typically has to enroll into an alcohol rehab facility or a hospital and receive inpatient
Such programs are targeted mainly for relatively long term alcoholism rehab and usually include
doctor-prescribed medications to help the alcoholic get through detox and the alcohol withdrawal process in a
Perhaps the best known and one of the most successful alcoholism rehab programs is Alcoholics Anonymous.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide affiliation of men and women from all walks of life who share their
strengths, aspirations, and experiences with one other in the hope that they may solve their mutual addiction
problem and assist others in their quest to recover from alcohol dependence.
The only condition for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking alcohol. As a result, total abstinence from
alcohol is advocated by the organization.
Members make a conscious effort to abstain from drinking and continue with their alcoholism rehab that is
accomplished "one day at a time." Sobriety is achieved through mutual support as members share their experiences,
strengths, and their hopes.
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous
One of the essential aspects of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) rehabilitation program is articulated in the
Based on the experiences of Alcoholics Anonymous' earliest members, the 12 Steps represent the documented
practices and principles, acquired through trail and error, that the early members established in order to maintain
The following represents the 12 Steps in the Alcoholics Anonymous alcoholism rehab program:
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him,
praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics
and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The SMART Rehab Program
Another alcoholism rehab program that does not rely on the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and is, in fact, an
alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous is the Self Management And Recovery Training (SMART) program.
The developers of the SMART alcoholism rehab program believe that each person must discover his or her own path
to rehab or recovery. For some people, for instance, this path might be the traditional Alcoholics Anonymous
While the SMART program is noticeably different than the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program, it does not,
however, exclude Alcoholics Anonymous.
Indeed, some individuals who follow the SMART methodology also choose to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings
because they feel that what they experience at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings helps them on their path to alcoholism
rehab and long-term recovery.
The SMART drug and alcohol rehab and recovery program is based on scientific information and provides specific
techniques and tools for each of the following four program points:
Enhancing and maintaining the motivation to refrain from drugs or alcohol
Coping with urges to take drugs or to drink
Learning problem solving skills such as learning how to better manage feelings, actions, and thoughts
Becoming skilled at lifestyle balance such as balancing momentary and other pleasures
Conclusion: Alcoholism Rehabilitation
Since it is possible to construct an almost endless list of detrimental effects that directly or indirectly are
caused by alcoholism, it seems reasonable for alcoholics to learn how to refrain from drinking alcohol, to involve
themselves in the alcoholism rehabilitation process, and to actively seek to restore their lives.
Whether a alcoholic requires alcohol abuse rehab, inpatient alcohol detox, or outpatient alcohol counseling, the
goal of alcohol abstinence is worth pursuing especially when the destructive and unhealthy consequences of
alcoholism are taken into consideration.
Indeed, it really does not make any significant difference whether a person chooses a more traditional program
such as the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program, a lesser known approach like the SMART rehab approach, or one of
the many other quality alcoholism rehab methodologies.
What does matter, however is this: alcoholics need to acknowledge that they have a drinking problem, they must
want to stop drinking, and they need to find an alcoholism rehab program that works for them.