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What Are the Different Methods of Treating Alcoholism?

An alcohol counselor may help patients work through psychological cravings for alcohol.
Outpatient treatment is one method of dealing with alcoholism.
Drinking becomes a problem as soon as it negatively affects a person's life and relationships.
Withdrawal from drugs or alcohol can be dangerous if conducted in an uncontrolled setting.
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  • Written By: Rolando Braza
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2014
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There are three major steps that an alcoholic must take to treat his or her alcoholism — completely quit drinking any form of alcoholic drink, detoxification, and finding a treatment regimen. The different methods of treating alcoholism, otherwise known as alcohol dependency and alcohol addiction, may be undertaken either as an outpatient or inpatient program. Treatment methods often involve a drug or non-drug therapy as well as counseling and use of support groups. These methods may be combined depending on the magnitude and complexity of alcoholism a patient is experiencing.

An outpatient program for treating alcoholism takes place outside the hospital or treatment center. This is generally recommended for a patient with mild to moderate symptoms of alcoholism. It is essential for a patient undergoing outpatient treatment of alcoholism to have a support group at home. The group will be needed to give comfort and encouragement to the patient while he or she is going though the detoxification process, especially during difficult times of alcohol withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include nausea, fast heart rate, and dilated or enlarged pupils.

An inpatient treatment program is recommended for patients experiencing symptoms of severe alcoholism or patients who had a relapse. The symptoms of severe alcoholism withdrawal include seizures, blackouts, and visual hallucinations. A patient is normally taken to a hospital or rehabilitation facility for a supervised and closely monitored treatment by a doctor or a therapist.

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Drugs are normally prescribed by a doctor to facilitate the detoxification process in the inpatient program of treating alcoholism. Naltrexone and disulfiram are two of the drugs a doctor may prescribe in addressing the alcoholism of his or her patient. A doctor may also prescribe sedatives like benzodiazepine or BZ to control severe symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Several counseling methods are available to help a patient in the alcohol withdrawal process. The counseling methods and therapies include the Alcoholics Anonymous model, cognitive behavioral therapy, and motivational interviewing. Counseling is usually implemented in outpatient treatment programs.

Treating alcoholism can be a long process involving not only the patient, but his or her family and friends as well. The chance for success is high if done right and there is full cooperation from the patient and his or her family. Patience is required, especially in severe cases of alcoholism, because it may require a longer time to treat. It is also important for a patient to have a strong will and a firm resolve to stop taking alcoholic drinks and stay away from them completely.

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