Alcohol abuse is a widespread and deadly problem in America. In fact, millions of Americans live with an alcohol addiction (also called alcohol use disorder, or AUD). A large percentage of these people never seek real help for their problem.

If you have an AUD, you must seek professional addiction treatment. If you do not, matters could become much worse—you could lose your family, your job and even your life.

As you start to look into treatment programs for alcohol abuse, you will find that there are many options available. At first, sorting through these options to find the best treatment for you or a loved one can be overwhelming.

Keep reading to learn what to look for when you are trying to find an alcohol treatment center. The information in this article can help you make an informed decision that could mean the difference between life and death!

Where to Start: Inpatient or Outpatient Rehab?

As you dive into your treatment options, you will find that there are two main types of treatment for AUD: Inpatient rehab and outpatient care. While outpatient care is great for some people, it is best when used as the next step after an inpatient rehab program.

Inpatient rehab has been proven to be more effective in treating people who abuse alcohol. You should be looking for an inpatient rehab program that offers:

  • A safe, sober environment where you can forget your worries and focus on your recovery.
  • Access to medical care around-the-clock.
  • Supportive activities such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and more.
  • Evidence-based treatment approaches that are proven to be effective in treating AUD.
  • Daily routines that help you find a flow and restore balance.

The main difference between inpatient and outpatient rehab is that patients live at the facility during inpatient care. This period of time spent immersed in the recovery lifestyle with caretakers and other recovering addicts is key to your long-term success and sobriety.

Once you have completed an inpatient program, it is wise to continue your care with outpatient services while you live at home and return to work or school.

Some people with mild alcohol abuse issues and strong reasons for being at home might be able to address their problem with only outpatient care.

Detox: What Is It and When Is It Necessary?

You’ve probably heard the word ‘detox’ before. You may think detox is the same as rehab, but this is not true. Detox and rehab are two separate things.

The important thing to know about detox is that it may be a necessary first step on your road to recovery. Anyone who is physically dependent on alcohol needs to go to detox before they can start rehab.

Why? Detox offers a safe, medically-monitored environment where patients can go through withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal occurs when someone who is dependent on alcohol stops drinking suddenly. Symptoms can include:

  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings
  • Body aches
  • Seizures

In severe cases, alcohol withdrawal can cause symptoms that are fatal. This is why visiting detox is a must if you have been drinking recently!

Once you have stabilized and are cleared to leave detox, you can begin your treatment with a clear mind and body.

Evidence-Based Treatment

Science is a beautiful thing. When choosing a rehab center, you should be sure to find a facility that offers evidence-based treatment. These treatment methods have been tested and proven to work well in combating alcohol addiction. You don’t have to wonder whether you are getting the right type of care.

Examples of evidence-based treatment methods for AUD include:

  • Counseling: Every great treatment plan includes personal therapy. Counseling helps you to uncover the underlying causes of your drinking and work to address them.
  • Medication: Medication isn’t right for everyone’s treatment plan, but some people can really benefit from drugs like naltrexone. Such drugs, when used correctly, can help to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and quell cravings for alcohol.
  • 12-Step programs: You’ve probably heard of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but did you know that many recovering addicts begin their AA journey at a treatment center? 12-step programs like AA are a great way to tap into peer support and create a continuum of care. This way, you can stay connected to your recovery when you leave rehab.

Aftercare Plans

When you are shopping around for a rehab program, a great thing to check for is whether your treatment plan includes aftercare. Many treatment centers offer resources to alumni so they can stay connected and have the support they need when they go back home.

AUD is a lifelong disease, and many addicts need care for their entire lives. This does not necessarily mean you need to live at a rehab center forever, but having access to the tools you need for support and success is important.

Be sure to check that any treatment center you are considering working with offers aftercare resources.

Personalized Treatment

Aside from aftercare, you should check to see that treatment centers you are looking into offer personalized treatment plans. The last thing you need on your recovery journey is a cookie-cutter treatment plan that does not fit your needs.

Top-tier rehab centers understand that every patient, every addiction, is different from the next. Alcohol use disorder is a complex, ever-changing disease, and treatment can only be effective when it addresses the specific needs of each patient.

How You Can Impact Your Own Recovery

Choosing the right rehab center is key to having a successful recovery from alcohol addiction. But there’s another big factor in whether you succeed on this journey, and that factor is you.

In order to stay sober and gain control of your life, you have to really want to stop drinking. With this level of commitment, you can take on all the challenges that come your way on this journey.

Start by knowing your key reasons for getting help with your drinking problem. Do you want to live longer? Feel better physically? Have a better relationship with your family? Rehab can help with all of these things.

A strong mindset can help you during the tough times in your recovery. If you’re ready to put alcohol abuse in your past, check out our directory for a list of the nation’s top treatment centers.


  1. Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help (2014)
  2. 13 Components of Effective Treatment Programs. (February 13, 2020)
  3. Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs for Beginners (2020, March 22)

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