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The Most Successful Alcohol Addiction Treatments Revealed

Lisa Taylor
Lisa TaylorAddiction Counsellor

Curing alcoholism may not be thought of in the same light as curing an addiction to heroin or cocaine for one simple reason: most of us do not think of alcohol as being in the same league as those other drugs. But it is. In fact, some experts believe that alcohol is far more dangerous than other drugs due to its social acceptance and the effects it has on the brain. The simple truth is that alcohol addiction is very real. Also true is the fact that alcoholism is something that can be permanently cured with the right kind of treatment and support.

Helping alcoholics and their families find treatment is what we do. Our role as an independent referral and advice provider gives us access to private rehab clinics, NHS programmes, and other opportunities throughout the UK. Simply by contacting us and speaking to one of our counsellors, you could be accessing treatment in a matter of days.

The Addictive Nature of Alcohol

In this guide, we will be explaining the most successful alcohol addiction treatments currently in use. Before we do, however, it may be helpful to first understand why alcohol is addictive. Knowing what you are dealing with may make it easier for you to accept the fact that you need professional treatment to overcome alcoholism.

Alcohol is addictive in two ways:

  1. Physically – The physical addiction to alcohol is a direct result of the body having to compensate for the sedating nature of the drug. In order to overcome the sedation, the body has to work harder to keep the heart beating, the lungs functioning, etc. There comes a point when the body gets accustomed to a certain level of alcohol in the system. When that happens, the body actually needs alcohol to keep functioning normally. Physical addiction is the result. The body manifests this addiction through real, physical cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  2. Psychologically – A person becomes psychologically addicted to alcohol because of what alcohol does to the brain. First, alcohol encourages the production of endorphins that create feelings of pleasure. The brain is easily addicted to these endorphins. Secondly, alcohol affects the way a person thinks. When excessive drinking is persistent, an individual's brain can be fooled into thinking that it is not possible to exist without continual drinking. Both the brain and its thoughts then depend on alcohol to continue functioning.

The addictive nature of alcohol, both physically and psychologically, boils down to the fact that the body gets used to always having alcohol in the system. Trying to remove alcohol from the equation results in an addictive response that includes physical cravings, certain kinds of withdrawal symptoms, and psychological and emotional upheaval.

Treatment #1 – Detox

The most important and successful alcohol addiction treatment is detoxification. We say it is the most important because it is not possible to cure alcoholism unless the person detoxes first. In the alcohol recovery community, we like to say that the only true cure for alcoholism is a total abstinence. If total abstinence is to be achieved, it must start with detox.

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We consider detox to be the most successful alcohol addiction treatment because there is no way to achieve total abstinence without it. Those who successfully complete detox experience the very real possibility of a permanent cure – as long as they stick to it and do not drink again. In that sense, no other treatment programme can accomplish what detox can.

You may have heard different things about detox that make it sound very unpleasant. We can tell you that detox is no holiday, but it is very manageable when medically supervised and assisted through the use of prescription medications. Rest assured that all of the rehab clinics we work with take advantage of the latest methodologies to make detox as tolerable as possible.

Treatment #2 – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Counselling therapies are a common part of modern alcohol addiction treatment. One of the most successful among them is something known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This therapy is unique among counselling therapies in a couple of ways. First, it is a goal-oriented therapy that seeks to do more than just talk. Therapists establish a set of goals that clients work through during each session. Once the goals are achieved therapy is considered complete – usually in 12 to 15 sessions.

CBT is also unique in that it requires the client to accept responsibility for his or her past, present, and future. It looks to the past to try to identify the kinds of things that trigger addictive behaviour; it analyses the present to encourage the client to embrace sobriety; it addresses the future by helping the client develop tools to avoid future temptations and behaviours that would lead to relapse.

Treatment #3 – 12-Step Work

12-step programmes, such as the one developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, are not necessarily the treatment method of choice for all treatment providers. But it is hard to argue with the results such programmes have achieved in more than 80 years of use. For those who do well with 12-step programmes, the treatment is effective by taking advantage of mutual accountability and individual responsibility to put the past behind and embrace a future without alcohol.

These kinds of programmes include group support meetings and counselling sessions in which the various members of the support group are there to encourage and push one another to succeed. The mutual accountability that 12-step support groups offer is invaluable to a lot of people.

Treatment #4 – SMART Recovery

An alternative to traditional 12-step programmes is known as self-management and recovery training (SMART). It is an effective option for people who prefer to look at alcoholism as more of a self-discipline issue than a disease. Those who participate in SMART view alcohol addiction as a problem to be solved through personal management. They see it as a problem very similar to poor financial management or lack of self-discipline at work.

We have provided a list of just four of the most successful alcohol addiction treatments now in use throughout the UK. There are others as well. The most important thing to understand is that alcoholics are different. There is no single treatment, with the exception of detox, that is appropriate for every alcoholic. You need to find what works for you.

We can help when you contact our 24-hour helpline. One of our trained counsellors can help you figure out how serious your drinking problem is, then offer a list of treatment options in your local area. You can then decide what kind of treatment is best for you. We encourage you to contact us today; all of our services are free and completely confidential.

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