What Is Alcohol Counseling?

Alcohol counseling is available to anyone struggling with alcohol use disorder (AUD) — including binge drinking, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism — as well as their loved ones. 

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Recognizing one’s problem with alcohol is the first step in taking the initiative to seek help and pursue alcohol counseling. AUD encompasses binge drinking, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism, though they’re not all the same. If you are not sure about your drinking habits, alcohol counseling can also help you pinpoint your problem.

For starters, binge drinking is a pattern of drinking alcohol that elevates one’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08 g/dL. BAC levels typically reach .08 g/dL after four drinks for women and five drinks for men in about two hours.

However, an occasional binge drinker is not necessarily an alcohol abuser. Alcohol abusers continue to drink alcohol despite the following effects drinking has on their lives:

  • Recurrent, alcohol-induced health problems
  • Occupational consequences
  • Social consequences
  • Legal consequences

Still, alcohol abusers tend to have easier times breaking their drinking habits than alcoholics who are actually addicted to alcohol. Alcoholics have a dependency on alcohol and may suffer withdrawals when they’re not drinking. This is due to a chemical change in their brain that drives them to drink more, more often. 

However, alcohol counseling can help binge drinkers, alcohol abusers, and alcoholics alike break unhealthy drinking patterns.

Role of a Substance Abuse Counselor

A substance use counselor can help patients determine their problems with alcohol (or with drug abuse), identify any triggers that lead them to drink, address ways to stop or reduce drinking, and tackle any withdrawal symptoms. 

An alcohol counselor builds trust with their patients and provides the support and resources that their patients need, free of judgment. They assist their patients throughout the recovery period, whether that requires immediate intervention or carries out through a long-term plan.

Types of Addiction Counseling

There’s a wealth of resources out there to help anyone with an alcohol dependency confront binge drinking, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism. Here are some of your options.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapy involves working with a health professional, such as an addiction counselor, who can identify any behaviors that lead to heavy drinking and help patients change them. This includes developing the skills they need to stop or reduce drinking, building a strong social support system, and coping with triggers. A behavioral therapist can help patients set reachable goals and work toward them with a treatment plan.

Biofeedback Therapy

Biofeedback therapy, which is also known as neurofeedback therapy, trains the brain to function more efficiently. This therapy can help patients be aware of their minds and bodies. An electroencephalograph (EEG) is applied to a patient’s scalp to listen to their brainwave activity in a treatment facility. Since many people who suffer from substance dependencies have mental health disorders as well, this form of therapy can help them identify triggers and correct stress-induced psychological responses.

Holistic Therapy

Holistic therapy targets a person’s mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health as a form of substance abuse treatment. Holistic alcohol rehabilitation, therefore, uses several types of therapies and treatment to treat the different ways alcohol can affect people mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This alcoholism treatment program will vary depending on each person and the holistic rehabilitation center they choose but can include everything from art therapy to nutrition planning.

Family Therapy

Family counseling is a popular option because family members can be a big part of the treatment process. Family therapy incorporates spouses and other family members in the therapy sessions as they can plan an important support role. Likewise, a family therapist can help you and your family members work through any problems that can trigger alcohol abuse and improve family relationships.

Alcohol Interventions

Alcohol interventions with family and/or friends are different from working with a treatment provider. A loved one may hold brief interventions with someone with an addiction to alcohol or who tends to binge drink. This might just be a one-time sit-down conversation between them or a regular check-in. Whatever the case, interventions are opportunities for loved ones to share their concerns and offer their support before the alcohol problem escalates.

Alcoholics Anonymous 

There are various support groups for alcoholics, but Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is arguably the most well-known one. It touts itself as being “nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere.” In short, AA is a global, community-driven program that involves regular accountability meetings and group discussions about addiction.

AA also uses a 12-Step program to help members overcome alcohol addictions, which they can revisit whenever they need it. These steps include admitting to addiction, making conscious choices to change their behaviors, and using prayer and meditation to overcome their addictions.

Teen Alcohol Counseling

About 11.4 percent of 12- to 20-year-olds (4.3 million underage people) are binge drinkers, consuming five or more drinks during the same occasion at least once in the last 30 days. Treatment options are available to teens, such as teen-specific alcohol abuse support groups, free alcohol treatment centers for teens, and even inpatient rehab centers for teens with substance use problems.

Alcohol Counseling FAQs

What are the benefits of alcohol counseling?

Alcohol counseling can help you overcome your problem with alcohol, whatever it may be. Going to counseling for alcohol also means that you’re not alone in your journey. You have trained professionals with you and, likely, other people in the same or similar situations. 

How does alcohol counseling work?

Substance use counseling varies depending on what type of counseling you seek. Whether you’re paired one-on-one with a substance use counselor or counseled in a group setting depends on the type of counseling that you choose. 

Typically, however, you or your group will be paired with a substance use counselor who can help you identify your alcohol dependency and address any alcohol withdrawal symptoms. They’ll do this through various counseling sessions over time, whether you seek individual counseling or group counseling meetings for group therapy.

How effective is alcohol counseling?

Alcohol counseling with mental health professionals is effective for many people. Research suggests that about one-third of those who receive alcohol counseling show no further symptoms after one year. Meanwhile, others significantly reduce their drinking and report far fewer issues related to alcohol.

Find Help For Your Addiction

You don’t have to overcome your addiction alone. Professional guidance and support is available. Begin a life of recovery by reaching out to a specialist today.


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“Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 29 Apr. 2020, www.medlineplus.gov/alcoholusedisorderaud.html.

“Alcohol Use Disorder.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 4 June 2020, www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders

“Alcohol Use Disorder: A Comparison Between DSM–IV and DSM–5.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 13 Mar. 2020, www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/alcohol-use-disorder-comparison-between-dsm

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Holland, Kimberly. “Staging an Intervention for an Alcoholic.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 10 Nov. 2014, www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-addiction-intervention

Publishing, Harvard Health. “Alcohol Abuse.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/addiction/alcohol-abuse

“Role of Counselor in Addiction Recovery: Wake Forest University.” WFU Online Counseling, 13 July 2020, counseling.online.wfu.edu/blog/the-role-of-the-counselor-in-addiction-recovery/

“Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 5 Mar. 2020, www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/treatment-alcohol-problems-finding-and-getting-help

“What Is AA?” Aa.org, www.aa.org/pages/en_US/what-is-aa

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Updated on: January 21, 2021
AnnaMarie Houlis
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Medically Reviewed
Annamarie Coy,
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