5 Proven Strategies for Recovery from Alcoholism
Alcoholism exists as the most prevalent form of addiction across the globe. In spite of its widespread influence, the success rate for alcohol addiction treatment runs anywhere from 50 to 60 percent according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. In other words, alcoholism is a highly treatable condition.
Strategies for recovery encompass a range of different treatment approaches, each of which addresses the various challenges and obstacles that come up during the course of recovery. As everyone’s experience with alcoholism differs, what works for one person may not work for another. For this reason, it’s especially important to get the type of care that best meets a person’s treatment needs.
Over time, alcohol has a cumulative effect on the brain and body, making it more and more difficult for drinkers to manage or control their daily intake. Consequently, alcohol eventually takes over normal brain functions leaving a person hopelessly dependent on its effects.
Fortunately, those in recovery can overcome alcohol’s effects by following well-proven strategies made available through decades of research and practical application. Whichever strategy a person chooses, it’s most important to follow through and stick with the program in order to see positive results.
1. Alcohol Rehab Treatment
While highly treatable, a great majority of people struggling with alcohol addiction fail to seek out needed treatment help. As addiction severity will vary from person-to-person, not everyone will require the level of support offered through traditional treatment programs. For those who do, these programs offer an invaluable service in terms of helping a person gain control over alcoholism.
According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol rehab treatment varies in a number of ways, with each program specializing in treating different stages of addiction. Rehab programs may incorporate one or more of the following types of treatment –
- Inpatient care
- Detox treatment
- Outpatient treatment
- Residential care
- Sober living homes
Detox, inpatient and residential programs offer the most intensive level of care in terms of requiring patients to live at the treatment facility for the duration of the program. Outpatient and sober living homes use a more flexible treatment approach where patients can live at home and schedule treatment sessions around their existing schedules.
While some programs may seem less “intrusive” than others, it’s most important for a person to get the level of care he or she needs in order to maintain abstinence on an ongoing basis.
2. Medication-Assisted Therapy
The effects of alcohol essentially breakdown the body’s cell structures, especially those housed in the brain. As cell structures deteriorate, the brain’s chemical system becomes unstable.
Over time, the brain can no longer regulate bodily processes without the effects of alcohol. Brain chemical functions can remain in a state of imbalance long after a person stops drinking.
Medication-assisted therapies work to support and strengthen damaged brain functions by replacing the effects of alcohol with a therapeutic agent, such as methadone. Other types of medication-assisted therapies work more so like deterrents to drinking, such as Antabuse, invoking a harsh physical reaction whenever alcohol enters the system.
3. Get a Sponsor
The concept of “sponsorship” evolved out of the 12-Step support model. Sponsors, also recovering alcoholics, have an established track record in terms of how to maintain sobriety on an ongoing basis.
As threats to a person’s sobriety tend to arise unexpectedly, sponsors can be reached at any time. In effect, a sponsor acts as a sounding board, support and source of knowledge and guidance as a person works through the recovery process.
Sponsors also help a person the 12-Step program. In cases where the sponsee starts down a wrong path, his or her sponsor can point out missteps along the way and offer advice on how to get back on track. Ultimately, sponsors fulfill the role of friend or teacher as a person manages the challenges and obstacles that come up in recovery.
4. Get Needed Psychosocial Treatment
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, alcohol-based addictions take root within the mind and essentially warp the alcoholic’s belief systems, thinking patterns and emotions. Even after a person stops drinking, the roots of addiction remain until he or she undoes the psychological damage caused by drinking.
Psychosocial treatment interventions help addicts break the psychological dependency that’s formed towards alcohol much like detox treatment treats the body’s physical dependency. More oftentimes than not, unresolved emotional issues from the past and poor coping skills drive a person to alcoholism. Once addicted, the effects of alcohol only add to the psychological dysfunction that’s already present.
Alcohol treatment programs offer a range of psychosocial treatment interventions, some of which include –
- Relationship counseling
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
5. Attend 12-Step Support Groups
Twelve-Step support groups have an established track record of helping alcoholics throughout the recovery process. Anyone who’s gone through a drug treatment program most likely has already attended a series of support group meetings as part of the program’s overall treatment approach. Many treatment facilities actually model their programs after the 12-Step approach.
Twelve-Step support groups provide a safe environment in which to work through issues that come up in recovery. The 12-Step approach encompasses a set of steps for personal development, with each step addressing a different area of the alcoholic’s life. Most 12-Step groups also place a heavy emphasis on spiritual development as a means for coping with the ups and downs of the recovery process.
More than anything else, people recovering from alcoholism learn the importance of reaching out for help when times get hard. For this reason, building a support system or network is an important part of a successful recovery.
As the risk of relapse remains for most everyone in recovery, any one of the above strategies can prove invaluable as a source of direction and support after a relapse occurs. After a person establishes a solid foundation in the recovery process, giving back in the form of sponsoring a newcomer or volunteering at meetings can also act as a type of treatment in itself.