Alcohol recovery is a life-long journey. It begins when a drinker admits that he or she has a problem with alcohol and needs help. Many people decide to stop drinking after an intervention by family and friends, or they may have experienced a traumatic event like a DUI arrest or an alcohol-related blackout. Whatever the cause, a desire to become free from alcohol dependence is the beginning of the path to alcohol recovery.
Like diabetes and other chronic medical conditions, there is no cure for alcoholism. Instead, it must be managed throughout a recovering alcoholic’s lifetime. The first step in alcohol recovery is detoxification, which is the term used to describe the psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms that can occur when a drinker abstains from alcohol. For heavy drinkers, detox may be very difficult or even life-threatening and should only be attempted under a doctor’s supervision. The detox process can take up to two weeks, but it is only the beginning of alcohol recovery.
The next step on the path to alcohol recovery is treatment through an outpatient program or residential rehab. To be effective, an alcohol treatment program must help the drinker break the cycle of alcohol dependence. Successful treatment programs address the body, mind and spirit of the alcoholic in order to heal the physical and psychological craving for alcohol. There is no quick fix for alcohol dependence, and most alcohol recovery programs last for at least 30 days.
Effective alcohol treatment programs use both individual counseling and group therapy to explore the causes of the drinker’s unhealthy behavior and to break down feelings of isolation that alcohol dependence can bring. The treatment program should help the drinker identify the triggers and stressors that lead to drinking. It must also address other emotional and mental health conditions that have contributed to alcohol dependency, including depression, anxiety or trauma. Following alcohol recovery treatment, the recovering alcoholic should be equipped with the necessary skills to avoid relapse.
The final step in alcohol recovery is aftercare, which is the term used for counseling that continues after recovery treatment is completed. Aftercare helps ease the transition to a sober lifestyle. It is also important for the family of a recovering alcoholic to receive aftercare counseling so they can help their loved one adjust to life after alcohol.
Undergoing alcohol recovery treatment helps those who are dependent on alcohol to recover their health and heal damaged relationships. It provides hope and a new direction, allowing them to continue on the path of an alcohol-free life.