Even though alcoholism has been viewed as a serious medical condition for years, many people who suffer from it find it difficult to seek treatment. One of the fundamental principles behind most types of alcoholism treatment is that the sufferer must be willing to acknowledge the alcohol dependence and must be open to getting help.
Alcohol dependence is typically treated with therapy, either in groups or individually; it can be conducted on an inpatient or an outpatient basis. These treatments focus on helping individuals understand the root causes of their alcoholism and helping them restructure their lives to break the dependence. Inpatient rehab programs and Alcoholics Anonymous are two commonly sought forms of alcoholism treatment.
Alcohol rehabilitation facilities are medical institutions specially designed to treat people suffering from alcohol dependence. An alcoholic will typically enter a facility for a designated period of time, during which they undergo group and individual therapy and counseling to improve self-esteem. Patients may also learn anger management and conflict resolution techniques, and receive instruction on managing the feelings of shame and depression that are often associated with alcoholism.
Alcohol rehab centers also prepare post-treatment plans to help prepare patients for the challenges they'll face once they get sober and leave the center. Relapse prevention techniques, such as identifying triggers and understanding habits that lead to drinking, are taught and enforced to give patients a better chance of remaining alcohol-free.
Alcoholics Anonymous (often abbreviated as AA) is probably the best-known organization devoted to alcoholism and helping those who suffer from it. It is a free support group dedicated to providing alcoholism treatment to members; participants include those who have undergone treatment in a rehab facility as well as those who are attempting sobriety on their own.
The group works through a sponsorship model and a 12-step program, both of which help members create a happy and healthy life that doesn't involve alcohol. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings give members the opportunity to share their story of alcoholism and draw strength from other members who are in the same situation. Sponsors, who are recovering alcoholics themselves, are assigned to new members to help them one-on-one as they go through the recovery process.
AA meetings are not only for those who suffer from alcohol dependence. Though "closed" Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are strictly for those who have the condition, "open" meetings are available for non-alcoholics as well. Additionally, groups such as AlAnon (also called AlAnon Family Groups and often punctuated as Al-Anon or Al Anon) and Alateen are available for friends and families of alcoholics.
Alcoholism affects not just one individual, but everyone in that individual's life. It is highly recommended that family members of an alcoholic attend AlAnon meetings, as the information and support that are made available can be tremendously valuable. Regular Al Anon meetings can be found in most communities.
Many people who suffer with alcohol dependence say that overcoming it is a lifelong battle. Though they may never fully be cured of the condition, treatment options such as the two listed above give them the support and personal strength they need to live a satisfying and healthy life free of alcohol.
It takes a commitment to get sober before any treatment can work. If you or someone you care about is suffering from the effects of alcohol dependence, contact your local AA chapter or talk to your doctor.