Group meetings are available in most communities at low or no cost, and at convenient times and locations—including an increasing presence online. This means they can be especially helpful to individuals at risk for relapse to drinking. Combined with medications and behavioral treatment provided by health care professionals, mutual-support groups can offer a valuable added layer of support. Like many other substance use disorders, alcohol use disorder is a chronic and sometimes relapsing condition that reflects changes in the brain. This means that when people with the disorder are abstaining from alcohol, they are still at increased risk of resuming unhealthy alcohol consumption, even if years have passed since their last drink.

  • Many years ago, those who struggled with alcohol addiction or dependency were considered to be people with weak morals who were missing the strong characteristics needed to overcome their struggles.
  • Because a person may experience one or more relapses and return to problem drinking, it can be crucial to have a trusted psychologist or other health professional with whom that person can discuss and learn from these events.
  • Moderation management or moderation treatment can be an effective approach, in which people learn responsible drinking habits through a structured program.
  • Laboratory tests, such as breathalyzer analyses or determination of blood alcohol concentrations, should also be performed to search for evidence of recent alcohol use that might aid in the assessment.

Early symptoms of alcohol withdrawal usually start about six hours after the last drink. Early symptoms include headache, sweating, tremors, vomiting and difficulty concentrating. If you’re unable to reduce how much you drink, you may have a disease called alcoholism that requires professional addiction treatment. Alcohol rehab helps you taper off alcohol, and it treats other side effects and causes of alcoholism. You should plan to taper for between three and seven days depending on how much you’re used to drinking. Slowly reduce the amount of alcohol you consume each day until you reach sobriety.

Why Is Alcoholism A Disease?

For more than 20 years, acamprosate was widely used throughout Europe for treating people with alcohol use disorders. It was first marketed in the United States in January 2005 under the brand name Campral. Campral is currently marketed in the United States by Forest Pharmaceuticals. The FDA approved the use of naltrexone to treat alcohol use disorders in 1994. Initially, disulfiram was given in larger dosages to produce aversion conditioning to alcohol by making the patients very sick if they drank. Later, after many reported severe reactions (including some deaths), Antabuse was administered in smaller dosages to support alcohol abstinence.

Not surprisingly, alcoholic women are also more prone than alcoholic men to having independent mood or anxiety disorders (Kessler et al. 1997). Alcoholic women and men also seem to differ in the temporal order of the onset of these conditions, with most mood and anxiety disorders predating the onset of alcoholism in women (Kessler et al. 1997). Given these observations, it is especially important in female patients to perform a thorough psychiatric review can alcoholism be cured that probes for major mood disorders (i.e., major depression and bipolar disorder) and anxiety disorders (e.g., social phobia). Alcoholism is a treatable disease, with many treatment programs and approaches available to support alcoholics who have decided to get help. Getting help before your problem drinking progresses to severe alcohol use disorder can save your life. Mutual-support groups provide peer support for stopping or reducing drinking.

How is alcohol use disorder treated?

Symptoms (which are typically experienced in addition to others caused by alcohol withdrawal) include delirium (confusion), high blood pressure, and agitation. With the use of appropriate medications and behavioral therapies, people can recover from AUD. An important first step is to learn more about alcohol use disorder and your treatment options. Trying to tough it out on your own can be like trying to cure appendicitis with cheerful thoughts.

But the prospects for successful long-term problem resolution are good for people who seek help from appropriate sources. These therapies can help people boost their motivation to stop drinking, identify circumstances that trigger drinking, learn new methods to cope with high-risk drinking situations, and develop social support systems within their own communities. Psychologists who are trained and experienced in treating alcohol problems can be helpful in many ways. Before the drinker seeks assistance, a psychologist can guide the family or others in helping to increase the drinker’s motivation to change. In most regions of the world, most adults consume alcohol at least occasionally (1). Alcohol is among the leading causes of preventable death worldwide, with 3 million deaths per year attributable to alcohol.


These are similar to sponsors in the 12-step programs like AA, but they are not linked to a specific recovery path. Instead, peer recovery coaches have lived experience with addiction and have completed standardized training to receive the peer recovery coach credential in their state. Self-Management and Recovery Training (SMART™ Recovery) are support groups based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and these are good options for people who prefer a pragmatic approach that examines thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to alcohol addiction and recovery. Once someone has decided they want to change the way they drink, they might attend mutual support groups.

Greater integration of alcohol screening and medication in primary care and other clinical settings, as well as research on best methods for implementation, has great potential for expanding access to effective treatment options (115). Because the heterogeneity of alcohol use disorder makes it highly unlikely that one single treatment will work for all individuals, it is important to provide a menu of options for pharmacological and behavioral therapies to both clinicians and patients. Reducing the stigma of alcohol use disorder and moving toward a public health approach to addressing this problem may further increase the range of acceptable treatment options. A third drug, the opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone, was approved for the treatment of alcohol dependence by the FDA in 1994. Later, a monthly extended-release injectable formulation of naltrexone, developed with the goal of improving patient adherence, was also approved by the FDA in 2006.


One is simply its rewarding consequences, such as having fun or escaping social anxiety. Having an impulsive personality plays into the decision to seek rewards despite negative repercussions. Another factor is stress, because alcohol can alleviate distressing emotions.

  • Therefore, clinicians should gather information from several resources when assessing patients with possible alcohol-related problems, including collateral informants, the patient’s medical history, laboratory tests, and a thorough physical examination.
  • Prior definitions of recovery involved the demonstration of several other criteria, such as sobriety, paying attention to personal health, being a good citizen, living a self-directed life, and striving to reach one’s full potential.
  • There are medications that can be very helpful in treating alcohol addiction, but none of them can fully cure the addiction altogether.
  • Other early signs of alcoholism include blackout drinking or a drastic change in demeanor while drinking, such as consistently becoming angry or violent.
  • Behavioral treatments—also known as alcohol counseling, or talk therapy, and provided by licensed therapists—are aimed at changing drinking behavior.
  • When it is finished, it is highly recommended that addicted individuals stay connected to an aftercare program.