Alcoholism Help – Options That Can Help 

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : October 04, 
| 4 Sources 

Treatment Options for Alcoholism

If you find yourself using this page because you are worried about your drinking, kudos on taking the first step and recognizing that your drinking is a concern.

A resource that can be utilized is your primary care physician. Your doctor would be able to have a conversation about your specific concerns as well as treatment options available.

A main reason for involving your doctor from the beginning is that alcohol withdrawal can be a dangerous experience that can lead to seizures and for some death.

Having an honest conversation with your doctor can help them determine if you need to detox in a medical facility overseen by medical providers.

Inpatient addiction programs are a common recommendation for individuals in early recovery. Many programs offer detox options that are overseen by doctors and nurses.

Inpatient programs provide education about the way that addiction impacts your brain, common behavior concerns, triggers and healthy ways to respond to stress. Common approaches are individual and group therapy.

Many programs encourage individuals to try out Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and other support groups that can be continued after the inpatient program is completed.

Outpatient addiction programs are often recommended after the completion of an inpatient program, however most programs do not require that individuals come after completing an inpatient stay.

Outpatient treatment programs use both individual and group therapy as well. The frequency of group meetings depends on the person’s symptoms as well as the program itself.

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Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous and Other Support Groups

There is an assumption, held by many in the medical profession, that if you want help for alcoholism, your only hope is to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and if you want to stop drinking for good, then AA has to become a large part in your recovery.

Alcoholics Anonymous and the 12 step program is an approach to alcohol abstinence that is a great fit for many alcoholics. However, if a person is not ready to abstain from alcohol use, they likely won’t receive all the benefits of the AA program.

Addiction treatment providers report that the success rate of individuals using the AA program is between 8% and 12%. Some believe that harm reduction techniques are more sustainable in the long term. For further information regarding the success rates and the Alcoholic Anonymous program please visit the AA Way page.

While Alcohol Anonymous does get significant support from inpatient and outpatient alcohol and drug addiction programs, there are other support group options that can be helpful.


It has been shown that alcoholics who have an active and informed choice in their alcoholism treatment, are much more successful in their recovery. This is also impacted by a person’s motivation recovery and their readiness to change.

This site is an attempt to address this lack of choice by outlining all the options (and that includes the 12 step method) open to alcoholics and problem drinkers who wish to access alcoholism help.

Among the treatment options are...

· ...secular alcoholism support groups that promote abstention

· ...alcoholism support groups that promote drinking in moderation and/or harm reduction

· ... woman-focused support groups and treatment centers.

· ...drugs that can assist you in your battle against alcohol dependency (drugs that AA frowns upon due to the belief of many members that utilizing medicine is somehow not 'real' recovery)

· ...medications that some say can cure alcoholism

· ...treatment centers that don't use the 12 steps as part of their treatment regimen

· ...herbal remedies to help you cut down on your alcohol consumption

· ...holistic alcohol treatment that can help you deal with your drinking problem

Why are AA alternatives rarely heard of? Is it because they don't work?

There are many reasons as to why other programs are little-known, but it is mainly because AA and its 12-step method was the first systematic program to treat alcohol dependency; a condition that had proved resistant to much the medical world could throw at it.

On top of this it seemed successful, there were many stories of how AA had turned individual's lives around.

In reality, however, it is not successful for everyone. Statistics are hard to come by due to the anonymity principle of the group.

AA's own figures, however, show that only 5% still attend meetings after one year. This kind of success rate would be unacceptable in any other branch of medicine/therapy, yet AA seems to go from strength to strength.

A common barrier for individuals who try the AA program is the use of a higher power throughout the program. While members are encouraged to view the separation between a higher power and religion, this can become challenging when the Big Book uses God throughout it.

There are alternatives to AA, many of which are great options. Many are statistically much more successful than AA. Do not despair if you or a loved one is alcohol dependent. There is alcoholism help and it doesn't have to be Alcoholics Anonymous.

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Alcohol and Zoloft

Zoloft is an example of a commonly used psychotropic medication. Zoloft is often prescribed for individuals who are living with Depression, Panic Attacks, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, PTSD, Phobias and Social Anxiety.

Zoloft and other similar medications are proven to improve mood, increase appetite, improve sleep quality, decrease depressive symptoms and decrease anxiety symptoms.

Medications like Zoloft work because they impact the neurotransmitters in our brains. Combining alcohol with this can lead to aggressiveness, increased depression and suicidal ideation, increased impulsiveness, blackouts and increase the impact that alcohol has on a person’s motor skills. For further information, please view the Zoloft and Alcohol page.


Covid19 - Isolation and Alcoholism

Living in situations such as a pandemic an added additional struggles to a person in recovery. Isolation alone is shown to lead to depressive symptoms such as sadness, loneliness and helplessness. It can add a level of uncertainty to finances, childcare, work and schooling.

Social distancing means that we are staying away from others which can impact support groups and addiction treatment programs. For some, these behaviors can be crucial for a person’s recovery.

So what can be done during these unprecedented times? Being aware of triggers such as people, places and things and developing a relapse prevention plan can help a person feel more prepared. Engaging in online meetings is a way to maintain engagement with support groups. Keeping busy with a routine is recommended as well as maintaining healthy relationships.


Alanon and Resources for Those Worried About a Loved One

Despite common belief, Alanon is not affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous. These are two separate programs that both follow a 12 step program. Alanon is designed specifically for individuals who are worried about a loved one who is struggling with an addiction. This could be a friend, family member or colleague.

Alanon provides support and knowledge regarding addiction and recovery. This can be a validating experience for individuals to learn that others can relate to their experiences and worries.

Over recent years, there has been significant growth in the Alanon community which has helped contribute to the recent growth of the online support available.

This site is not just for those suffering with an alcohol problem, if someone you care about has a drinking issue use this site as a tool to gain a better understanding of addiction and the impact it has on a person’s behaviors. If you feel that your loved one may need alcoholism, then then take a look at some of these pages:

· Discover and learn to identify the signs of alcoholism.

· Complete an alcoholism test to see if someone you care about is drinking at dangerous levels.

· Learn more about Alcoholics Anonymous and how it provides alcoholism help.

· Read about AA Alternatives that do not adhere to the 12 step method.

· Identify the damage that alcoholic drinking can do to those close to you.

· Hear about alcoholism medication used in the treatment of alcohol dependence and new drugs that are being hailed as miracle cures for addictive drinking.

As always, if you have any questions or queries, do not hesitate to contact us.


Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

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