Alcohol Addiction TreatmentAlcohol DetoxAlcohol Rehabman smiling as he works through the stages of alcoholism recovery
Overcoming an addiction is a process. When it comes to alcohol abuse disorder, most people experience four predictable stages of alcoholism recovery. The four stages inherent to recovering from alcoholism are beginning treatment, achieving abstinence, maintaining abstinence, and long-term recovery. Moreover, the journey each person takes through these stages will look different and may involve different treatment methods. Alcohol addiction recovery requires lifelong attention as the risk for relapse is ever-present. Each stage is explained in more detail later on. Reach out to a treatment center find out how an intensive outpatient program may benefit you or a loved one who is struggling with alcoholism.

Four Stages of Alcoholism Recovery

Recovering from an alcohol addiction takes time. In fact, it is hard to pin down how long each stage of alcoholism recovery will take because everyone struggles with addiction in their own way. Nonetheless, progressing through each stage is necessary for alcohol addiction recovery. No matter how long someone stays in a certain stage, healing remains possible. 

Beginning Treatment

Combating addiction necessitates engaging treatment. The type and structure of treatment depends on the severity of an addiction and an individual’s specific needs. One of the most common ways to address alcoholism is through an intensive outpatient treatment program. This style of treatment is best for milder addictions. Outpatient treatment offers flexibility and independence to program participants as people access treatment at a facility but otherwise can continue their normal activities. Alternatively, inpatient treatment programs offer a more intensive level of care and monitoring for people with severe addictions and for whom the detox and withdrawal process may be more difficult.

Achieving Abstinence

Alcohol addiction treatment is all about achieving abstinence. It is the first challenge that must be passed in order to engage the rest of treatment. Many people find this stage the most challenging due to factors such as:
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • The presence of psychological dependence on alcohol
  • Environmental or social triggers to use alcohol
Acquiring positive coping skills through therapeutic intervention is key to navigating this second stage. Key strategies that support abstinence in the early days of addiction treatment include support group attendance, learning to recognize and avoid environmental triggers, and acquiring healthy habits and hobbies as an alternative to addictive behaviors. 

Maintaining Abstinence

At the 90-day mark, people recovering from an alcohol addiction move from having achieved abstinence to needing to maintain their abstinence. Coping skills remain critical to this period, though they can be thought of as needing to level up in response to new challenges and pressures. Building up healthy, sober relationships is paramount to maintaining abstinence. Other important factors are exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, managing anger and other negative emotions without turning to alcohol, and avoiding the substitution of a new addiction in place of alcohol.

Long-Term Recovery

The fourth stage of alcohol addiction recovery begins at the five year mark. Counseling and therapy usually taper off at this point and most people may not continue to attend support groups once they reach this stage. Everything learned in stages one through three is applicable and can be built upon to safeguard against relapse or temptation to use alcohol. Recovering from alcoholism is definitely about getting sober and staying sober. But it is also about crafting a meaningful life outside of an alcohol addiction. Some people fear the absence of alcohol. The reality is that eliminating an addiction opens up beautiful opportunities to live a productive, healthy life.

Recovering From an Alcohol Addiction Starts Today

Navigating the stages of alcohol recovery is not something that you have to do alone. In fact, the type of recovery you dream of and deserve is most possible when you engage professional support. Therapy, medications, and support groups are all proven methods to dealing with an alcohol addiction. Entering the first stage of alcohol addiction treatment is just a phone call away.

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