Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Detox Treatment

Ways you can try to relieve stress include reading, listening to music, going for a walk, and taking a bath. You may also have regular blood tests so the health of your liver Dedicated to life-long Recovery can be carefully monitored. Additionally, there are many tools you can find online to help you examine the nature of your alcohol use and your behaviors surrounding it.

  • In Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (and other 12-step meetings) members of this confidential group can receive support from their peers who are also in recovery from an alcohol use disorder or other addictions.
  • The goal is to get people to realize they are not being forced to give up something they love but rather be motivated to pursue a life they’ve chosen for themselves.

An indirect meta-analysis of these two drugs concluded that nalmefene may be more effective than naltrexone (33), although whether a clinically relevant difference between the two medications really exists is still an open question (34). Network meta-analysis and microsimulation studies suggest that nalmefene may have some benefits over placebo for reducing total alcohol consumption (35, 36). The approval of nalmefene in Europe was accompanied by some controversy (37); a prospective head-to-head trial of nalmefene and naltrexone could help clarify whether nalmefene has added benefits to the existing medications available for alcohol use disorder.


Current pharmaceutical and behavioral treatments may assist patients in reducing alcohol use or facilitating alcohol abstinence. Although recent research has expanded understanding of alcohol use disorder, more research is needed to identify the neurobiological, genetic and epigenetic, psychological, social, and environmental factors most critical in the etiology and treatment of this disease. Implementation of this knowledge in clinical practice and training of health care providers is also needed to ensure appropriate diagnosis and treatment of individuals suffering from alcohol use disorder. This stage begins after approximately three months of not drinking alcohol. It is also known as “maintaining abstinence.” If the person started in an inpatient alcoholism treatment program, they would now move to an outpatient one.

treatment for alcoholism

Acceptance- and mindfulness-based interventions are increasingly being used to target alcohol use disorder and show evidence of efficacy in a variety of settings and formats, including brief intervention formats (76). Active ingredients include raising present moment awareness, developing a nonjudgmental approach to self and others, and increasing acceptance of present moment experiences. Acceptance- and mindfulness-based interventions are commonly delivered in group settings and can also be delivered in individual therapy contexts. Three medications are currently approved in the United States to help people stop or reduce their drinking and prevent relapse. They are prescribed by a primary care physician or other health professional and may be used alone or in combination with counseling.

step facilitation therapy

However, regardless of your level of alcohol abuse, seeking the guidance of medical and mental health professionals can promote a better understanding of this chronic disease and help inform the course of treatment that you ultimately select. Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone have been approved for use in Europe and in the United States. Pharmacologically similar to naltrexone, nalmefene was also approved for the treatment of alcohol dependence in Europe in 2013. Nalmefene is a m- and d-opioid receptor antagonist and a partial agonist of the k-opioid receptor (32). Side effects of nalmefene are similar to naltrexone; compared to naltrexone, nalmefene has a longer half-life. Meta-analyses have indicated that nalmefene is effective in reducing heavy drinking days (32).

Although up to 50% of individuals with alcohol use disorder present with some withdrawal symptoms after stopping drinking, only a small percentage requires medical treatment for detoxification, and some individuals may be able to reduce their drinking spontaneously. Medical treatment may take place either in an outpatient or, when clinically indicated, inpatient setting. In some cases, clinical monitoring may suffice, typically accompanied by supportive care for hydration and electrolytes and thiamine supplementation.

What Are the Treatments for Alcohol Use Disorder?

In closing, because of the complexity of AUD (and of individuals), no single treatment approach is universally successful or appealing to all patients. The different treatment approaches—behavioral healthcare, medications, and mutual support groups—share similar goals while addressing the varied neurobiological, psychological, and social aspects of AUD. Thus, these approaches are complementary and can work well together in an individualized, flexible, and comprehensive treatment plan. Behavioral treatments focus on modifying unhealthy drinking behaviors through behavioral therapies led by licensed counselors or therapists.

  • While there is no one-size-fits-all alcoholism treatment plan, many rehab facilities follow a general guideline.
  • The steps include admitting you’re powerless over alcohol and your life has become unmanageable, admitting you’ve acted wrongly and, where possible, making amends with people you’ve harmed.
  • Alcohol is a major contributor to global disease and a leading cause of preventable death, causing approximately 88,000 deaths annually in the United States alone.

Behavioral treatments—also known as alcohol counseling, or talk therapy, and provided by licensed therapists—are aimed at changing drinking behavior. Examples of behavioral treatments are brief interventions and reinforcement approaches, treatments that build motivation and teach skills for coping and preventing a return to drinking, and mindfulness-based therapies. Long-term exposure to alcohol causes adaptive changes in several neurotransmitters, including GABA, glutamate, and norepinephrine, among many others. Discontinuation of alcohol ingestion results in the nervous system hyperactivity and dysfunction that characterizes alcohol withdrawal (15, 16). Acting on several types of brain receptors, glutamate represents one of the most common excitatory neurotransmitters.

Types of Treatment

Some existing treatments “have worked pretty well, but there are still times where there’s challenges and episodes that can be pretty destabilizing,” including prolonged bouts of insomnia. Another issue is the judgment surrounding drug addiction and treatment, the experts said at Wednesday’s forum. When someone is in crisis, desperate for help, they might instead find a nurse or police officer who sees addiction as being different than other health emergencies. “Relapse pays,” Johnson said, and that’s why local investigators have been working for years to crack down on suspect treatment facilities, especially with the introduction of fentanyl — an incredibly deadly substance — into many street drugs.

It’s usually used in combination with counselling to reduce alcohol craving. Take our free, 5-minute alcohol misuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). The evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of an AUD. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Take our free, 5-minute alcohol use self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with alcohol misuse.

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