Getting Sober / Staying Sober

alcohol addiction

What is Treatment?

When people talk about treatment, they are invariably referring to a treatment center, most commonly known as a rehab, where people can go to get help if they have a problem with alcoholism or addiction to other substances or behaviours.

Having said that, the term treatment can cover a wide range of options that can almost be as baffling as some of the behaviours of an alcoholic themselves.

The primary source of treatment for alcoholics is Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA is an organisation that most people have heard of, even if they do not know that much about it.

There is no doubt however, that if someone has a problem with alcohol, a consideration of going to AA is likely to be the first port of call. Anyone can turn up at any AA meeting, or NA meeting and see if they find it helpful or not. AA is free, as are all 12-step fellowships, with voluntary collections taken at the meetings to cover the cost of rent, coffee etc.

The growth of rehabs and treatment centers over the years have to an extent been on the back of organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Many people nowadays assume that if an individual has a problem with alcohol and/or drugs they are likely to go to a rehab and then go on to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous afterwards.


There are certainly benefits for people who prefer to go to a rehab or treatment center as opposed to going directly to meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The majority of treatment centers offer a 28 day structured therapeutic programme of recovery that is likely to be based on the principles of the 12 step program of AA. Some treatment centres are specifically non 12-step based, and are more likely to offer some type of recovery program based on a life skills/mindfulness approach to life.

Treatment centers are normally residential clinical facilities, that are likely to be funded through an individual’s health care plan, assuming they have insurance. If the individual does not have insurance that it can be an extremely expensive process.

There are also a number of non-residential options that are often available, depending on where the individual lives. Treatment is sometimes offered under what is known as an intensive outpatient program.

This normally involve the individual carrying on with their normal day-to-day worklife, and attending some type of rehab/evening classes during the week where they will focus on recovery principles.

The other option is what is sometimes referred to as partial hospitalisation treatment where the individual or attend some type of treatment center during the day, and then goes home in the evening.

In addition, some rehabs will offer some type of outreach work in the community, which we will be a mix of the above two types of treatment. If anyone has a problem with alcohol and/or drugs, seeking help is the most important element.

Once the individual genuinely seeks help, then they are likely to find it in a variety of different ways, and can adapt whatever their needs are to their recovery process.


What are Addiction Treatment Programs?

Addiction treatment programs tend to refer to the various types of what are effectively therapeutic programs that a rehab or a treatment center will use as their basis for helping an individual recover from alcoholism and other types of substance abuse addiction or various types of behavioural addiction.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of rehabs, all of whom will in some sense claim that they have the most effective addiction treatment programs available as a way of helping individuals recover from addiction. It is worth being very wary of any rehab treatment center which claims a high success rate, simply because it is virtually impossible to know whether any of the claims are accurate or not.

The recovery process from alcoholism and other types of addiction is a very complex one, and there are many factors that can affect an individual’s ability to get well, in the context of a recovery program.

The majority of rehabs that base their addiction treatment programs on the twelve step model of Alcoholics Anonymous will often put a heavy emphasis on what is effectively step one of this process, trying to get to the individual to acknowledge that they have a problem with alcohol or other drugs or substances.

It is a bit of a cliché but true nonetheless that a big part of the problem facing any alcoholic is acknowledging that they have a problem with alcohol and acknowledging the need to do something about it.

Addiction Treatment Programs – Treatment Centers

A rehab or treatment center will need to assess whether an individual needs a medical detox or not, and once that has been completed, if needed, then the majority of work done in the rehab will be of a therapeutic nature.

It is important for any rehab or treatment center that claims to offer effective addiction treatment programs to understand the nature of alcoholism, and how the denial of the fact that an individual has a problem is effectively a defence mechanism.

A number of rehabs and treatment centres will employ as part of their staffing arrangements a number of members of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous in various clinical positions such as nurses, therapists, councillors or various alternative practitioners.

If a rehab does not have any members of AA on staff, then it is likely to have a number of volunteer members of AA and NA who will come into the rehab on a regular basis to offer support and encouragement to impatient clients who are undergoing the addiction treatment programs offered by the rehab.




What is an Alcohol Addiction?

An alcohol addiction is virtually always referred to as alcoholism, although sometimes other terminology is used such as alcohol dependence or the term alcohol addiction itself. In truth the terminology used to define an alcohol addiction is secondary to the reality of what such an addiction does to the individual, their families and the surrounding people in their lives.

An alcohol addiction or alcoholism is difficult to define, but is quite easy in a sense to understand if you are heavily affected by it and have the clarity to understand what is happening. One of the features of alcoholism or alcohol addiction is that often the alcoholic themselves and the people closest to them are in complete denial of the fact that there is a problem, or that any of the individuals concerned need help.

It is worth making the point that there is a difference between someone who is an alcoholic, and someone who is a very heavy drinker but not necessarily an alcoholic. To some people this may be a bit of a pointless difference to make, but it is important in terms of the individual and their need to understand what is happening to them.

Someone who is a heavy drinker, who has an alcohol addiction may well have serious problems in their lives as a result of their drinking, but is likely to be able to stop or cut down significantly on their own, albeit with a considerable amount of difficulty and hard work.

Alcohol Addiction – Alcoholism

Someone who is an alcoholic, either potential or full-blown is unlikely to be able stop on their own, or often have the desire to stop or cut down at all. The framework of Alcoholics Anonymous as a 12-step fellowship makes very clear that an individual who cannot stop can get help and achieve sobriety through meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, either by going to meetings directly or through exposure in a rehab.

Alcohol addiction should be seen as a serious medical condition, and anyone contemplating stopping drinking or cutting down quickly should seek medical help and advice prior to beginning the process of stopping.

This is simple because the withdrawal effects of alcohol, especially if the individual is using other substances as well, can have serious complications, both medical and mental for the individual, and as such a medically supervised detox is often recommended.

In any event an individual should be assessed by a qualified medical doctor as to whether a medical detox is needed or not. Alcohol addiction is a serious condition, and the appropriate help should be sought by the by the individual or their families at the earliest opportunity.




What are alcohol addiction programs ?

Alcohol addiction programs normally refer to a wide range of therapeutic and clinical programs used by a rehab or a treatment center to address a persons alcoholism or help someone deal with an addiction to alcohol.

Alcohol addiction programs as such, are normally residential in a rehab or a treatment center, but there are also a wide range of other options which fall under this term which can be either day programmes, some type of outreach programs or a more traditional model such as meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Alcohol addiction programs that are offered by a rehab or a treatment center are normally in-patient residential programs. A person will normally enter a rehab for a fixed period of time, quite often about a month is normal, and in that time begin addressing the nature of that alcoholism.

The nature of all addiction and alcohol addiction programs can vary considerably depending upon the nature of the rehab or treatment center. An alcohol addiction program that is likely to be effective will be rooted in the understanding that alcoholism is an illness, and that an alcoholic is a person as such suffers from that illness.

The idea of alcoholism as an illness is one that many people understand and accept, even if there are differences and misconceptions about the nature of the illness. The sense of an alcoholic being an ill person is one that does register with many people, even if they do not understand the illness, they are able to sense that an alcoholic is in some way acting against their own best interests.

An alcohol addiction program will need to address what is known as step one in the 12 step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Step one of the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous addresses the issue of acceptance of a person’s powerlessness or not over their own drinking and unmanageability of their life.

It is crucial to understanding the nature of alcoholism as an illness to understand that an alcoholic in general terms, needs to protect alcohol and does so in the face of the chaos and horror that their life becomes as a result of their drinking.

An alcoholic will know in one sense, what alcohol is doing to them, because they are living the life that is the consequence of the drinking.

An alcohol addiction program must understand the denial of an alcoholic is primarily a protective function, designed to keep the alcoholic feeling safe, and designed to help keep the alcoholic from having to acknowledge and face the reality of their life.

An alcohol addiction program will hopefully do more than simply begin the process of addressing a persons acceptance or not of that alcoholism.

The nature of an alcohol addiction program means that it needs to both challenge and alcoholic about their drinking and their lives in general, but to do it in such a way that the alcoholic does not feel threatened.

This need for an alcoholic to feel safe is crucial for the process of recovery to begin and take place. An alcohol addiction program needs to be focused on helping an alcoholic to understand the complexity of the illness and to be able to plant a seed of recovery that the alcoholic can grasp.

This can be quite a difficult challenge for the rehab, and for the nature of the addiction program.

An alcohol addiction program that is run as a day programme or outreach programme is likely to offer a similar approach in some ways to a residential program. The main difference in one sense, will be that the alcoholic will continue in some senses in their normal life on a day-to-day basis whilst undertaking the program that is being offered.

This has some advantages in terms of integrating the alcohol addiction program into their normal way of life, but also has the disadvantage that it exposes alcoholic to the same pressures that were there also were drinking, both internally and externally.