Addiction to alcohol, or alcoholism, is an all-consuming disease that profoundly affects every aspect of one’s life. No individual chooses to become an alcoholic; instead, a combination of biological susceptibility and environmental factors make one’s alcohol consumption especially dangerous. Over time, an individual who had been a social or casual drinker begins to consume larger volumes of alcohol on an increasingly frequent basis.
At a point, the body begins to need alcohol even to just function normally without being heavily intoxicated or inebriated. The strong physical dependency that alcoholics develop to alcohol makes this disease especially dangerous, even during early recovery.
Three Stages of Recovery from Alcohol
Like addiction to drugs, recovery from alcoholism can be broken down into a series of three distinct and unique stages, each of which is an important step in the process of overcoming physical and psychological dependency to alcohol. From the point of choosing to overcome the disease, an individual will begin his or her rehabilitation with a period of detox before progressing through periods of inpatient and outpatient treatment.
This treatment regimen has proven to be the safest and most effective route toward an individual’s breaking free of the chains of alcoholism. The following is a concise description of each stage of recovery at an alcohol rehab center with an explanation why each stage is an important part of the rehabilitation process.
Stage One: Detoxification
Alcoholics are individuals who have become exceptionally heavy drinkers. Over time, their bodies adapt to their frequent and heavy consumption of alcohol. While this helps to alleviate some of the intoxication they would be experiencing due to an increased tolerance to alcohol, this also means that they will experience withdrawal if they go too long without a drink, which is evidence of a physical dependency. When an alcoholic begins the recovery process at an alcohol rehab center, the first phase of treatment is detoxification.
In short, detoxification is essentially a period during which the individual’s body is cleansed of alcohol, drugs, and other harmful toxins. Detox programs generally last for about a week—or long enough for an individual to progress with the withdrawal period until symptoms have begun to subside—and is a period during which an individual focuses on overcoming the physical component of alcoholism.
During a detox program at an alcohol treatment center, individuals are under close medical supervision 24 hours a day so that their withdrawal symptoms can be monitored. This ensures each individual’s safety during the detox process since withdrawal from alcohol can potentially become life-threatening.
Moreover, since the symptoms of withdrawal can become so severe physicians will often help individuals through detoxification by attempting to alleviate some of their discomfort with the use of medications such as benzodiazepines; this is of particular help to the feelings of anxiety that are common during withdrawal as well as helping individuals to sleep at night.
By the completion of the detox period, the individual’s body will have cleansed itself of alcohol and the individual will have overcome the majority of the withdrawal associated with alcohol dependency. If there are any withdrawal symptoms remaining, they will be very minor and won’t interfere with subsequent stages of recovery.
Stage Two: Inpatient Treatment
Having completed an alcohol detox, individuals progress to inpatient treatment as the second step in the stages of recovery. Much like the detox phase, individuals in inpatient treatment reside in the rehab facility for the duration of this phase of treatment, which can last up to several months and depends upon the needs of each patient.
The primary goal of the inpatient phase of alcoholism recovery is to teach individuals about alcoholism, helping them to understand and overcome their individual reasons or factors that contributed to the development of their alcoholism. However, since alcohol is a legal substance inpatient treatment affords individuals a safe, alcohol-free environment in which they can focus on their recovery without being tempted at every restaurant, grocery or convenience store.
Inpatient treatment primarily consists of forms of counseling and therapy—individual and group sessions—but can also include a number of supplemental, alternative, and holistic treatments as well. For instance, family therapy is often offered as part of a treatment program and encourages patients to include their loved ones in the treatment and healing process. Additionally, individuals will learn a variety of life skills and relapse prevention strategies as part of inpatient treatment, helping them to fortify their recovery so that they can remain sober for the long-term.
Stage Three: Outpatient Treatment
After detox and inpatient treatment, individuals will progress to the third and last of the stages of recovery from alcoholism, which is to begin outpatient treatment. As suggested by its namesake, outpatient treatment allows individuals to return to living at home while attending treatments at the alcohol rehab center several days each week.
Though outpatient treatment offers many of the same therapies as an inpatient program, there’s less focus on psychotherapy and more focus on maintenance. Individuals who are receiving outpatient treatment at the third stage of recovery from alcoholism will continue participating in some therapy as well as group sessions each week, allowing them to receive support for the issues that may arise as they continue on the journey of sustained sobriety.
An important aspect of outpatient treatment is that it offers structured treatment to individuals while they are also reintegrating into society with their newfound sobriety. This can be an intense, daunting process, but outpatient treatment affords a measure of safety and support during this transitional time. As such, outpatient treatment is an important stage in recovery from alcoholism in that it offers individuals a resource and support system while learning how to be accountable for their continued sobriety.
Make Your Way Through the Stages of Recovery With Drug Treatment Center Finder
Just as alcoholism doesn’t occur overnight, recovery doesn’t happen overnight either. Recovery is a journey that consists of several important stages, each of which are unique and vital for their own reasons. Though not easy, progressing through each successive stage of treatment at an alcohol rehab center shows an individual that they are closer and closer to a healthy, sober life.
If you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. We have a team of recovery specialists available to help match those in need to the programs and treatments that will deliver them to lasting sobriety. Don’t wait—call us today at 855-619-8070 and let the journey of healing begin.