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Alcohol & Health
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Updated on September 14, 2023
6 min read

Alcohol Addiction Treatment: Types and Benefits

Unhealthy alcohol use risks your health and safety, leading to other alcohol-related problems. When this occurs, you may have an alcohol use disorder (AUD).

An alcohol addiction problem can range from mild to severe. However, even a mild AUD can escalate and lead to severe problems, so early treatment is essential.

Who Needs Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

People struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) should seek addiction treatment.

AUD refers to a pattern of alcohol use that involves:1

  • Problems controlling your drinking
  • Being preoccupied with alcohol
  • Using alcohol even when it causes problems

An AUD also involves consuming more to reach the same effects or having alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you quickly reduce or stop drinking. 

Complications of Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction can lead to cardiovascular and liver disease (such as heart failure, stroke, or hypertension). These can be fatal.

Alcoholism can also cause:

  • Ulcers
  • Diabetes complications
  • Sexual issues
  • Congenital disabilities (in a person whose mother was an alcoholic or drank alcohol during pregnancy)
  • Bone loss
  • Vision problems
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Suppressed immune function

If someone with an AUD takes dangerous risks while drinking, they can also affect others. For example, if they drink and drive, they are more likely to cause an accident.

Nearly all risks involved with alcoholism can be avoidable or treatable with successful long-term recovery.


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Types of Alcohol Addiction Treatments

Here are the different kinds of alcohol addiction treatments:

1. Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is one of the most common ways to initiate alcoholism treatment. It involves checking into a rehab center and remaining there for your treatment.

You’ll have access to medical professionals and specialists 24 hours a day. Help will always be available.

Inpatient rehab programs have a fixed schedule. This schedule typically consists of breakfast in the morning, followed by therapies, counseling, and activities for the rest of the day.

2. Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is an intensive level of outpatient treatment for people with alcoholism. Programs can vary in schedules, but PHPs typically provide at least 20 hours of treatment per week.

PHPs may also function as an ideal outpatient setting for treating people with both alcoholism and mental health issues. An essential feature of many PHPs is that they provide access to intensive medical and psychiatric services when required.

3. Outpatient Treatment

There are many similarities and differences between an inpatient and outpatient rehab program. Outpatient programs aren’t usually as intensive and give a person the freedom to attend work or school while receiving treatment.

Many outpatient programs meet daily for the first several weeks or months of treatment. Afterward, the number of meetings will reduce based on how far someone has recovered.

Outpatient treatment is an excellent option for people with a stable home environment and doesn’t have serious drinking problems. However, outpatient programs aren’t suitable if someone struggles with a long-term drinking problem.

4. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved various medications to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders. MAT medications treat withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that lead to chemical imbalances in the body.2

MAT medications are evidence-based treatment options and don’t substitute one drug for another. This treatment combines medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a ‘whole-patient’ approach to treating substance use disorders. 

The medications used for MAT include:


Naltrexone blocks the euphoric feelings of alcohol intoxication. The drug allows people with alcoholism to:2

  • Reduce their drinking
  • Remain motivated
  • Stay in treatment
  • Avoid relapse


Acamprosate is for people in recovery who aren’t consuming alcohol anymore and want to avoid drinking. The drug helps prevent people from drinking alcohol but doesn’t stop withdrawal symptoms. Acamprosate hasn’t been shown to work in people who continue drinking.2

The use of acamprosate usually begins on the fifth day of quitting drinking. It reaches full effectiveness in 5 to 8 days.

Acamprosate comes in tablet form and is taken three times a day, preferably at the same time each day. Side effects may include: 

  • Appetite loss
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping


Disulfiram helps in the treatment of chronic alcoholism. It interferes with the normal breakdown of alcohol, resulting in the buildup of a chemical in the blood that causes unpleasant side effects.

The drug is most effective in those who have been through detox or are in the initial stages of abstinence.2 It is administered in tablet form and taken once a day. Disulfiram should never be taken when intoxicated and shouldn’t be taken for at least 12 hours after drinking.

Side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pains
  • Headache
  • Difficulty breathing

These side effects can occur as soon as 10 minutes after drinking a small amount of alcohol and may persist for an hour or longer.

Medications Used for Alcohol Withdrawal

In severe cases of alcohol withdrawal, detox professionals may provide medications to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepines are a class of sedative medicines used to treat panic and anxiety and control some seizures. These drugs are often the first choice to manage problematic alcohol withdrawal symptoms. 

Benzodiazepines can significantly lessen the risk of seizures in people suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Therapies Used in Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Behavioral treatments involve working with a medical professional to identify and help change behaviors contributing to heavy drinking.

These types of alcohol treatments share certain features, including:3

  • Developing the skills required to stop or reduce drinking
  • Helping to build a solid social support system
  • Working on setting reachable goals
  • Coping with or avoiding triggers that might cause relapse

Mutual support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other 12-step programs are also popular therapies in alcohol addiction treatment. These programs provide peer support for people quitting or reducing their drinking.3

These support groups are often combined with treatment led by health professionals and can offer valuable support. 

How Long is Addiction Treatment?

Addiction treatment can last for various lengths depending on the person and the type of program. Some people believe recovery from AUD or SUD lasts a lifetime. 

However, the three most common lengths of rehab programs are:

  • 30 days
  • 60 days
  • 90 days

Everyone has different needs, so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to addiction treatment. No two people have the same experience with alcoholism.


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Benefits of Quitting Alcohol

There are lots of benefits to quitting alcohol. It reduces the risk of developing many severe alcohol-related diseases, such as: 

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Gut problems
  • Bowel cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Mouth cancer

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Alcoholism is a severe problem that requires professional help for successful treatment. Various treatments and therapies are available to help individuals struggling with alcohol addiction. 

Quitting drinking also offers different health benefits and reduces the risk of severe alcohol-related diseases. You can control your drinking and lead healthier, productive lives with the proper treatment.

Updated on September 14, 2023
6 sources cited
Updated on September 14, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. “Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder.” NIAAA.
  2. “MAT Medications, Counseling, and Related Conditions.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 2022.
  3. Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2014.
  4. Huebner RB., Kantor, LW. “Advances in alcoholism treatment.” Alcohol research & health: the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2011.
  5. Douaihy et al. “Medications for substance use disorders.” Social work in public health, 2013.
  6. Tracy K., Wallace, SP. “Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction.” Substance abuse and rehabilitation, 2016.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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