Although no one intends to become an addict, drinking can spiral into an alcohol addiction pretty quickly. There’s no shame in addiction. It is a widespread problem that many people face across the entire planet. But once you realize you have a problem, it’s up to you to seek help. Thankfully, there are many different options for people looking for help to recover from an alcohol addiction. The most common form of treatment with the highest success rate is some form of rehab.
When it comes to rehab, there are many different options. Inpatient, outpatient, and hybrid versions of the two are all possibilities. The most important component of any alcohol rehabilitation program is support. Support can come in many different forms.
What is alcohol addiction?
An occasional drinker is most likely not an alcoholic. A person who has a glass of wine every night with dinner is not an alcoholic, either. However, when occasional drinking turns to frequent drinking or binge drinking - that’s when you know there’s a problem. Alcohol addiction is officially defined as someone who habitually abuses alcohol. So, what is abusing alcohol? Well, if someone is drinking daily to the point of being drunk, or needs to drink to function, then they are probably an alcoholic. According to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 14.5 million people with an alcohol abuse disorder lived in the United States in 2015. Alcohol addiction can be mild, moderate, or severe - but alcohol addiction is dangerous in any form.
How to Know if You’re Addicted to Alcohol
Here are some physical signs of an alcohol addiction:
- Constant shaky hands
- A strong urge to drink even in the morning or during inappropriate times
- Slacking on day to day responsibilities
- Confrontations with authority or police caused by alcohol
- Friends or family commenting on the frequency of your drinking
- Hiding alcohol from visitors in your home
- Drinking alone often
When should you seek help for alcohol addiction?
If you’re asking yourself this question, it’s probably time to seek help. In simple terms, if drinking is negatively affecting your life in any way - your relationships, your career, your family - you may have a problem, and you should seek help.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab
When you begin researching the different types of alcohol addiction rehab programs, you’ll find that most programs generally fall into one of two categories: inpatient or outpatient rehab. Each program is equally focused on rehabilitating individuals that suffer from alcohol addiction, but both options have different offerings. Is one better than the other? Not necessarily. Rehab programs are designed to work for the individual. So whichever one seems to fit your specific needs, comfort level, and lifestyle is the one that will probably work best for you.
What is inpatient rehab like?
Inpatient rehab programs, also called residential treatment, are intensive programs where you live 24/7 at the rehab facility. While inpatient programs are designed to treat severe addictions, anyone with an alcohol problem would benefit from a program of this type. An inpatient facility is a controlled environment with checks and balances in place to ensure the patient is sober. Inpatient clinics usually have a team of 24/7 medical and emotional support staff members that are trained to deal specifically with severe addiction. Family members and friends are allowed to contact patients in inpatient facilities. However, visits and contacts are supervised and planned. Every day in an inpatient clinic is planned and scheduled to offer structure and consistency to the patient.
What is outpatient rehab like?
Outpatient rehab is less restrictive than inpatient programs, and there’s a bit more flexibility. Most outpatient programs require about 10-12 hours a week in the treatment center. During these sessions, you focus on addiction education, individual therapy, group therapy, and learning coping strategies. These kinds of programs are good options for people with mild addictions or a way to continue their recovery after an inpatient program. Usually, outpatient rehab lasts about 3-6 months, but some people find they need even more time before they feel comfortable going back to their everyday lives. It’s important to remember that everyone’s rehab timeline will be different.
What is it like at a rehab center?
We understand that starting alcohol rehab can be intimidating. Leaving your everyday life to seek treatment is indeed scary. But seeking help for your addiction is one of the most important steps you can take for your health - and your future. The more research you do on what to expect once you enter rehab, the more prepared and less overwhelmed you’ll feel. Here’s what to expect on a day to day basis once you’ve entered alcohol addiction rehab:
Daily schedules: Daily routines and activities that you can expect and rely on help restore balance and consistency to a life that’s probably gotten a bit chaotic with addiction. Meals are usually at the same time every day during rehab to set a reliable schedule. Any therapies and activities will be planned ahead of time, and you’ll have some sort of written schedule you can rely on. You can expect to know what your weekly routine will be like.
Proper Nutrition and Exercise: Part of the healing process is restoring your body to its healthiest state. So during any sort of residential rehab, you can expect to receive healthy, balanced meals regularly. Staff members are always sure to accommodate special diets or allergies. No one is going to force you to eat foods you don’t want to eat. Physical activity is strongly encouraged and crucial to keeping the mind active, so exercise will be part of the daily routine as well.
Alternative Therapies: Art and music can be extremely helpful in the recovery process. So along with group and individual therapy, most rehab centers offer alternative therapy options like music and art therapy. Finding a creative outlet that works for you is a gratifying part of therapy. You’ll find more detailed information about alternative therapy later in this blog.
Individualized Therapy: Your journey through addiction and recovery is going to be uniquely personal to you, and who you are. It’s not going to look like anyone else’s journey. For that reason, rehab centers aim to individualize your treatment for alcohol addiction. What works for someone else may not work for you and visa versa, so your therapists will work hard to build a plan that works for your specific concerns.
One on One vs. Group Therapy
Most alcohol addiction experts will recommend a combination of both one-on-one and group therapy while you’re going through a rehab program. Having a personal therapist or psychologist is incredibly helpful as you’re working through the cause of your addiction. Drinking is rarely just about drinking - there’s usually an underlying cause that created the urge to drink in your brain. Counseling and therapy can help you uncover those underlying causes and work through them. On the other hand, group therapy helps you to not feel alone in your recovery journey. Listening to other rehab patients’ addiction and recovery stories can be incredibly helpful as you work through your own. But no, not everyone is going to feel comfortable sharing their personal thoughts in front of others. And that’s ok, too. Just listening can be incredibly powerful.
Do I really need a therapist to help with my addiction?
No one thinks they need a therapist until they begin therapy. It can seem odd to share your personal thoughts, stories, trauma, and past with a complete stranger. But it’s important to remember that alcohol addiction therapists are trained to help people just like you. Their schooling, training, and day-to-day work life involves assisting people in beating their addictions and living a sober life. Having a trained professional talking and listening to you can be an incredibly helpful tool.
Therapy for alcohol addiction doesn’t only involve medical assistance and communicating your issues to others. In fact, some types of therapy can be entertaining and creative. Experts recommend finding a creative outlet while in rehab, and music can be a compelling outlet. Music therapy is an additional treatment option that can be used with your other rehab therapies. Most people are surprised to learn that music therapy has been a recognized form of therapy in the US since WW2. During a music therapy session, music is used to help you manage physical, emotional, and cognitive problems. Qualified and experienced music therapists design treatments according to your specific needs. Music therapy can include creating music, singing, dancing, or simply listening to music. Since music touches all aspects of your mind, body, and behavior - it can be quite a mood booster. Music is an incredible outlet for emotional pain, which is probably where the old saying “if you can’t say it with words, say it in a song” came from. Most rehab programs across the country incorporate music therapy in some form.
In addition to music, art can also be a powerful tool in the recovery process for alcohol addiction. Art therapy is an all-encompassing term that can include anything artistic like:
- Any other kind of craft
The goal of art therapy is to give you a creative outlet to work out your emotions during the rehab process. There’s no right or wrong in art - you’re free to express yourself however you see fit. This can be incredibly rewarding as you’re experiencing the strong emotions that can surface during talk therapy. Many recovering alcoholics report that continuing with art after rehab helps handle urges and compulsions to drink.
What about after rehab?
No rehab center is going to send you off into the world empty-handed after you complete treatment. Aftercare is an essential part of any rehab program. Most aftercare programs can be found through the same treatment facility you attended for rehab. These programs may include:
- Continued Therapy Programs
- Resources for connecting with sponsors and support
- 12-Step or Group-focused therapy programs (Like AA)
- Job search or housing support
- And much more
Get Started Today
No matter what kind of treatment option you decide on, the important thing is that you seek help for your addiction. If one type of treatment isn’t working for you, try another. Try as many as you need to until you find one that works for you. Remember, recovery is a lifelong process, but finding the help you need to stop drinking is the first step.