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The types of treatment that work best for alcohol abuse are those which address the behavioral, psychological and social factors that caused the problematic drinking in the first place. How this is best accomplished for each person should be assessed individually with their unique needs and challenges in mind.
The first stage of alcohol treatment is detoxification. There are facilities which only deliver detox services and nothing else, and programs which provide a full spectrum of services starting with detox. Alcohol detoxification can sometimes be more problematic than drug detox, and it is always advisable to seek professional detox services when deciding to stop drinking. Complications from alcohol detox and withdrawal can be risky when not properly supervised with symptoms being safely managed, so many alcohol treatment programs offer a medically managed withdrawal for the more severe cases. Detoxing alone of course does not provide the treatment that will help pinpoint the areas of one's life where individuals will need to make the behavioral and life changes needed to remain sober. If someone is in a facility which only delivers alcohol detoxification, the next step would be a referral to an alcohol treatment program that suits their needs.
To know what types of treatment work best for alcohol abuse, it can be helpful to understand what types of programs are available and then which is going to work best for you or perhaps a loved one with an alcohol problem. When looking into programs and treatment, you will see that programs classify themselves and the type of treatment they offer. The different types of treatment currently available is much more diverse than it ever has been, so there are a lot more options to choose from and something for everyone.
Outpatient treatment services would be considered the lowest intensity of alcohol treatment available. If someone has an obligation that will not allow them to commit to an inpatient or residential treatment program, this would be an option where they will participate in drug education and group counselling. Individual counselling may also be available at certain centers. The effectiveness of outpatient treatment depends on the individual and whether or not they are able to make crucial environmental lifestyle changes to remain sober. This can be difficult in an outpatient setting, and relapses are common unless there is a robust continuum of care, such as a stay in a sober living facility or other type of aftercare option.
There are more intensive day treatment options available, which is a step up from outpatient and just below inpatient and residential. Many of the services offered in intensive day treatment are offered in an inpatient or residential setting such as more individualized counselling and more expansive rehabilitation services. Individualized counseling and day treatment services will focus on developing coping strategies and other behavioral goals that can encourage an abstinent lifestyle. Facilities which deliver intensive day treatment are more likely to provide mental health and medical services to individuals experiencing health complications due to their alcoholism and individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders. You will want to keep in mind that clients are still exposed to things which could trigger their alcohol use, a circumstance which can only be eliminated in an inpatient or residential facility.
Individuals who take part in long-term residential treatment will have access to around-the-clock care and will stay at the facility anywhere from 3 months to a year. Many residential programs utilize what is known as the "therapeutic" treatment model, and may even call themselves a Therapeutic Community or "TC" for short. In such a facility clients are provided with individualized and comprehensive treatment services aimed at helping them address the psychological, social and behavioral deficits that prompted their problematic drinking. In a therapeutic community setting, the goal is to help clients reintegrate themselves into the community as a productive member of that community. Now that they are abstinent and sober, they can learn how to lead a productive life through constructive and proactive behaviors, accountability and responsibility.
There is a type of treatment available at most inpatient and residential treatment programs, and some outpatient facilities, known as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that can be highly effective when addressing alcohol abuse. This type of treatment hones in on a person's environmental cues that cause them to turn to drugs and alcohol as a crutch. Once these cues are identified, treatment specialists can help them adopt strategies to correct these behavior patterns so they are better able to handle similar environmental stressors in the future.
Another type of treatment that has shown promise for alcohol abuse is Family Behavior Therapy, or FBT. This type of therapy is very goal oriented, and integrates treatment of alcohol abuse along with resolution of any type of familial conflict. This could include underlying problems within the family unit which prompted the alcohol problem, including abuse, monetary problems, general behavioral issues etc. and can be utilized on both adults and children. FBT is available at many residential programs, outpatient programs which deliver family counseling and certain other facilities where addressing familial issues would be a specialty and priority.