Types of Treatment Found at Alcohol Rehab

Every day, thousands of people are seeking treatment for alcohol abuse and there are numerous inpatient and outpatient treatment options available to them. The common treatment components included in alcohol rehab are detoxification, behavioral therapies, counseling, support, and medications.


Detoxification from alcohol can be dangerous if the person has been drinking heavily or for an extended period of time. Alcohol dependency or alcoholism causes withdrawal symptoms that include intense alcohol cravings as well as several physical and psychological problems when the person tries to quit drinking.

Depending on the nature and severity of the person’s alcoholism, they may need to be partially hospitalized or given medications to reduce or alleviate symptoms of withdrawal to stabilize their physical and psychological health.The most severe withdrawals include delirium tremens, hallucinations, and seizures.


alcohol addiction treatment

Cognitive behavioral therapy and other individual therapies are used in rehab for alcohol.

According to the NIDA,”Three medications have been FDA–approved for treating alcohol dependence: naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram.”

Naltrexone is an anti-craving medication that blocks the receptors in the “reward pathway” to reduce the pleasant effects one may get when they drink.

Acomprosate reduces protracted withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, and dysphoria or uncomfortable emotional states including depression, anxiety, and irritation.

Disulfiram is an aversive medication that produces unpleasant reactions such as nausea, vomiting, flushing, or increased heart rate when alcohol is consumed.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Changing problem behaviors is the main focus of treatment in alcohol rehab. CBT helps the person to develop coping skills for alcohol cravings and the numerous factors that can “trigger” a relapse. It is based on the theory that maladaptive behaviors can be identified and corrected by changing thought patterns and learning a range of skills to correct them and the reactions to them.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

MET uses a counseling approach to motivate behavioral changes and strengthen engagement in recovery through discussions, feedback, and encouragement in a non-confrontational manner. The empathic and strategic approach improves the client’s self-efficacy toward achieving their goals.

Contingency Management (CM)

CM rewards positive behaviors such as abstinence and goal achievements with tangible rewards to reinforce those behaviors. It is considered an effective method for treatment retention in alcohol rehab and the longer a person remains in treatment, the greater their chance of recovery.

Twelve-step Group Support

A key element to recovery is replacing social networks that involve and encourage drinking with those that encourage abstinence. Adopted from the Alcohol Anonymous program, the use of 12-step self help groups in alcohol rehab is very common. Active engagements in these groups provide the person with knowledge, feedback, and support from others undergoing similar recovery efforts and have proven beneficial in long term sobriety maintenance.


Individual and family counseling therapies are treatment elements that improve recovery outcomes. These sessions can be designed according to the unique needs of the person and help them to specifically address and resolve those issues that would influence their recovery and continued sobriety.