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Alcohol Rehab & Treatment Options

If you or a loved one has decided your relationship with alcohol has taken a negative toll on your life, several options are available to help you stop drinking. Alcohol rehab covers many care levels—from intensive, live-in situations to local support groups that offer peer guidance and accountability. The solution you’re looking for is definitely within reach.

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Types of Alcohol Addiction Treatments

When people hear “drug rehab center,” they likely think of a residential facility where a person stays for a prolonged period. However, addiction treatment centers cover a wide range of needs and can include both inpatient and outpatient treatment services.

While all alcohol addiction treatment provides evidence-based care for alcoholism, the treatment plan you receive will be as unique as you are.

Regardless of what kind of rehab facility you choose, your treatment services will likely include a combination of therapies to assist you with quitting drinking and, if necessary, remaining abstinent from alcohol in the future.

Medical Detox

As mentioned above, stopping your regular alcohol consumption could result in withdrawal. Some of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous, even life-threatening, so medical detoxification (or detox) provides a safe way to get through the withdrawal process.

Going through alcohol detox under medical supervision will give you access to a team of healthcare professionals. They will monitor your vitals and, if necessary, prescribe medication for you during or after the medical detox is complete.

These prescription medications can assist with lessening your alcohol withdrawal symptoms. They can also help you avoid relapse by blocking the effects of alcohol altogether.

Some common medications prescribed to help treat alcohol use disorder include:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram
  • Antabuse
  • Campral

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient care is designed to provide comprehensive care in a residential treatment setting. Inpatient treatment usually occurs at specialized recovery centers where the patient will stay for an extended period (typically 30 days or more).

The patient will often receive medical care during their inpatient stay.

Inpatient programs are typically the most intense rehabilitation program option, so it is often recommended for patients with severe alcohol addiction, dual diagnoses, additional health concerns, or a history of substance abuse/substance use disorder.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient treatment comes in a few different forms, providing different levels of care for people with mild to moderate alcohol addiction. Outpatient care provides the same quality of treatment to individuals with alcohol use disorder without requiring such an extensive time commitment.

At outpatient recovery centers, patients will visit for a predetermined time each day. Patients can return home at the end of the day and may also be able to continue working at jobs or attending to other obligations.

In many cases, health insurance (including Medicaid) is more likely to cover outpatient rehab, especially if it is someone’s first time entering substance abuse treatment.

The level of time commitment for outpatient treatment will depend on your treatment plan.

  • A partial hospitalization program (IOP) is a type of outpatient treatment. In many ways, partial hospitalization is very similar to the daytime routine of residential or inpatient rehab, but without requiring the patient to stay the night.
  • An intensive outpatient program (PHP) is another form of outpatient care and has a lower level of intensity than a PHP. An IOP is ideal for someone with a milder alcohol addiction or if they have already completed a more thorough rehab plan, like a residential rehab.

Types of Therapies Involved in a Treatment Program

All rehab programs for alcohol use disorder will provide some form of treatment geared toward behavioral health.

Overall, patients struggling with any substance use disorder benefit most from a comprehensive approach that treats their physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

In some cases, patients with co-occurring disorders (such as co-occurring mental health disorders or physical health conditions) will continue their mental health treatment as before but with a specific focus on how their mental illness impacted their alcohol or drug addiction.

There are many types of mental health therapy offered for addiction recovery, and the types of therapy offered will vary between treatment centers. You can call ahead to find out what a specific recovery center offers if there’s something specific you’re interested in.


Psychotherapy is an umbrella term for counseling based on talking through issues with a licensed mental health professional. During rehab, patients may take part in individual or group therapy sessions

Psychotherapy is beneficial to people in recovery from substance use disorders, including drug and alcohol addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy involves working with a therapist to identify your negative thought patterns. By identifying these negative behaviors, you and your therapist will work together to reframe these thoughts.

CBT allows individuals in treatment for alcohol use disorder to examine any possible triggers that led to their issues with alcohol and learn better coping mechanisms to use in the future.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Another form of psychotherapy, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), is especially helpful for at-risk patients or those recovering addicts who may still be in denial about some of their addiction issues.

Through DBT, the therapist will guide the patient to acknowledge and accept the behaviors that may have led to their alcohol addiction to help the patient move forward past this mental block. By accepting the reality of their substance use disorder, patients can be successful in maintaining sobriety in the future.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a therapy technique that is often used in the treatment of addiction. Motivational interviewing is especially helpful for recovering alcoholics who may not recognize the importance of changing their behavior or might feel that there isn’t much of a point in changing.

Through motivational interviewing, the therapist can help patients become more motivated to make a positive, lasting change in their lives.

12-Step Program

Twelve-step programs are especially common in recovery for both substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder. These programs provide recovering addicts with 12 actionable, progressive steps to help guide them through recovering from their addiction.

Twelve-step groups also act as peer support groups, providing individuals with camaraderie, accountability, and encouragement throughout their recovery. Support groups are often a key part of aftercare as well.

These groups can be especially helpful for recovering alcoholics who may not have a solid support system outside of rehab.

In terms of treating alcohol use disorder specifically, one of the most popular 12-step programs is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).


With advances in technology comes the ability to receive these important therapies electronically. Many AA meetings can happen through Zoom or other online call formats. Additionally, many therapists now offer remote sessions through telehealth formats.

All patients need to participate is a computer or similar device with internet access to enjoy this convenient form of therapy.

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Typical Length of Alcohol Rehab

The length of rehabilitation for alcohol use disorder can vary based on the individual. Some factors considered may include the length of time alcohol was being abused or whether the person has a dual diagnosis of other issues that need to be addressed.

With that said, overall alcohol use disorder rehabilitation timelines are as follows:

  • Alcohol detox programs: Anywhere from about two weeks to one month, depending on the severity of dependence. (Available at both inpatient and outpatient levels.)
  • Inpatient treatment for AUD: Typical length of stay can be 30, 60, or 90 days
  • Outpatient treatment for AUD: Between 1-6 months, with hourly commitments each week varying based on individual patient needs

How to Support a Recovering Alcoholic

If you have a family member or loved one who is working through alcohol addiction recovery, providing them with a solid support system will go a long way in helping them.

Here are some ways you can support a recovering alcoholic:

  • Show a sincere interest: Check in with them and ask about their recovery process. Oftentimes, people appreciate being able to talk about their progress and the strides they have made (or struggles they have faced). It helps them to know that someone cares about the work they are putting in. Make sure to practice active listening!
  • Reduce friction and unnecessary arguments: Addiction recovery is a lot of work. Adding additional stress through nagging, picking fights, or causing other unneeded stress can work against them. While your loved one is working through recovery, it’s not necessary to walk on eggshells, but giving them a bit of extra grace in the form of patience can go a long way.
  • Encourage healthy habits: Do you enjoy fitness? Maybe invite them to join you in your routine. Do you like to cook? Offer to have them over for a healthy meal—even verbal praise and encouragement when the recovering addict is making healthy strides.
  • Don’t judge: Remember, the person is in RECOVERY. They knew that their alcohol use was a problem, and they sought treatment to get help for their problem. One of the worst things you can do is judge them while they continue working on improving themselves and making better life choices.
  • Educate yourself on addiction and recovery: Understanding addiction can make a big difference in how you view the recovering addict and all the hard work they’re putting in. For instance, were you aware that addiction is a disease and not simply a personal failing? You can start learning more about addiction right here on this site.
  • Set healthy boundaries: While it’s great that you’re encouraging your friend, relative, or loved one through their addiction recovery process, you may have mixed feelings. During this time, it’s also important for you to set healthy boundaries for yourself as well. Remember, the recovery process is their responsibility, not yours. Encouragement is great, but you can’t do the work for them.

Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder and Withdrawal

The term Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) has largely replaced the term “alcoholism,” but both phrases refer to alcohol addiction.

There are some differences between developing actual alcohol addiction rather than simply building an alcohol dependence. However, both situations can result in harmful or even dangerous side effects.

Alcohol Dependence VS Addiction

Alcohol abuse occurs when a person drinks more than what the CDC defines as moderate drinking. Abusing alcohol can be demonstrated through both binge drinking and heavy drinking.

Binge drinking is defined as drinking several alcoholic beverages in a short period. For instance, having 5 or more drinks in a couple of hours could constitute binge drinking. Heavy drinking, on the other hand, is determined by drinking alcohol regularly over long periods—such as 15+ drinks(men) or 8+ drinks (women) every week.

Over time, the body can get used to these regular doses of alcohol, which is known as alcohol dependence. The body becomes dependent on the steady flow of alcohol to its system.

Dangers of Alcohol Withdrawal

Once a person becomes dependent on alcohol, quitting drinking can cause the person to experience withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, these alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous or even deadly.

Some of the more minor withdrawal side effects may include cravings for alcohol or mild tremors. More severe side effects are known as Delirium Tremens (DTs) and can include strong tremors, seizures, significant confusion, coma, and death.

During withdrawal from alcohol, the brain becomes overstimulated. Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it creates a sedative effect on the brain. If the brain gets used to constant sedation from regular alcohol use and then suddenly stops receiving that sedative, the brain becomes almost agitated. This brain agitation is what causes many of these dangerous side effects.

Therefore, many alcohol treatment centers provide specialized detox services where the patient is monitored, and medical care can be provided if withdrawal symptoms become dangerous.

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Is Recovery From Alcoholism Possible?

Yes, recovery from alcohol use disorder is possible. Many people go on to lead healthy lives with moderate drinking, and others choose to remain sober with great success.

One of the most important steps in the journey to an addiction-free life is to stay on track once you’ve started.

Aftercare programs such as 12-step support groups and even sober living can make a huge impact on your decision to remain sober after rehab,

Having a proper plan with direction from a medical professional and a solid support system (friends, family, or a support group) will keep you from turning back to alcohol when life becomes difficult.

Find Alcohol Addiction Treatment Near You

Whether you or your loved one needs help with a drinking problem, there are many resources available to assist you.

You can start by finding an AA program in your city or using the SAMHSA program locator to find different rehab options in your area.

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Centric Behavioral Health, our paid treatment center sponsor, is available 24/7:
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Alcohol Rehab FAQ

Does insurance cover alcohol rehab?

In many cases, insurance plans (including Medicare) will cover some or all care for alcohol use disorder. However, it’s important to speak with your insurance carrier to find out what coverage is offered ahead of time for your specific plan.

How do you identify if someone is truly addicted?

Alcohol misuse does not immediately mean addiction.

Alcohol addiction can often be identified if one or more of the following concerns are displayed:

  1. Excessive drinking regularly
  2. Inability to cut down on drinking
  3. Lots of time spent acquiring, drinking, or recovering from alcohol
  4. Strong alcohol cravings
  5. Missed obligations
  6. Continuing to drink despite negative effects
  7. Losing interest in other activities
  8. Drinking, even if it is dangerous
  9. Continuing to drink drinking despite physical/psychological harm
  10. Developing an alcohol tolerance
  11. Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms when not drinking

How do I find a rehab treatment facility?

You can find a treatment facility for alcohol use disorder through your physician or therapist, by calling a local hotline, or through the SAMHSA program locator.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

  1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, May 18). Alcohol Use Disorder. Mayo Clinic.
  2. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third edition). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition) | NIDA Archives. (2018, January 1).
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-a). Epidemiology of Recovery from Alcohol Use Disorder. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-b). Goal 4: Treatment. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-c). Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

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