Detoxification and Withdrawal
Treatment for alcoholism may begin with a program of detoxification, which generally takes two to seven days. You may need to take sedating medications to prevent shaking, confusion or hallucinations (delirium tremens), or other withdrawal symptoms. Detoxification is usually done at an inpatient treatment centre or a hospital.
Learning Skills and Establishing a Treatment Plan
This usually involves alcohol treatment specialists. It may include goal setting, behaviour change techniques, use of self-help manuals, counselling and follow-up care at a treatment centre.
Counselling and therapy for groups and individuals help you better understand your problem with alcohol and support recovery from the psychological aspects of alcoholism. You may benefit from couples or family therapy – family support can be an important part of the recovery process.
A drug called Disulfiram (Antabuse) may help to prevent you from drinking, although it won't cure alcoholism or remove the compulsion to drink. If you drink alcohol, the drug produces a physical reaction that may include flushing, nausea, vomiting and headaches. Naltrexone (Revia), a drug that blocks the good feelings alcohol causes, may prevent heavy drinking and reduce the urge to drink. Acamprosate (Campral) may help you combat alcohol cravings. Unlike Disulfiram, Naltrexone and Acamprosate don't make you feel sick after taking a drink.
Vivitrol, a version of the drug Naltrexone, is injected once a month by a health care professional. Although similar medication can be taken in pill form, the injectable version of the drug may be easier for people recovering from alcohol dependence to use consistently.
Aftercare programs and support groups help people recovering from problem drinking or alcoholism to stop drinking, manage relapses and cope with necessary lifestyle changes. This may include medical or psychological care or attending a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Treatment for Psychological Problems
Alcoholism commonly occurs along with other mental health disorders. You may need ‘talk therapy’ (psychotherapy or psychological counselling), medications, or other treatment for depression, anxiety or another mental health condition, if you have any of these conditions.
Medical Treatment for Other Conditions
Common medical problems related to alcoholism include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, liver disease and heart disease. Many alcohol-related health problems improve significantly once you stop drinking.
People who are involved with some type of regular spiritual practice may find it easier to maintain recovery from alcoholism or other addictions. For many people, gaining greater insight into their spiritual side is a key element in recovery.