What is Alcohol Addiction Recovery Really Like?

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As of 2007, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Addiction shows as many as 18 million Americans struggle with some type of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorders can take the form of alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse or addiction. Though addiction is typically, the next stage after dependence sets in, alcohol addiction recovery provides both dependent and addicted individuals the opportunity to take back control of their lives from alcohol.

Alcohol’s effects on a person’s mind and body create certain challenges throughout the alcohol addiction recovery process. While the physical component may seem like the source of addiction, more oftentimes than not, both physical and psychological components become the driving forces behind addiction. Alcohol addiction recovery addresses these challenges and offers supports to help a person not only make it through the treatment process, but maintain sobriety for the long-term.

Challenges in Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Though a person may seemingly choose to drink one alcoholic beverage after another, after a certain point the ability to control his or her intake starts to diminish as the disease component takes over. With each successive drink, alcohol’s effects alter brain chemical processes while at the same time weakening overall brain functioning ability. In the process, the brain and body become more and more dependent on alcohol’s effects. The challenges a person faces in alcohol addiction recovery center on undoing the damage done by long-term alcohol consumption.

Once in recovery, the recovering alcoholic not only contends with ongoing physical cravings, but also psychological urges stemming from a lifestyle that centered around alcohol. The first step in alcohol addiction recovery entails confronting alcohol as the source of the problem and acknowledging its damaging effects in a person’s life. Once a person can honestly see alcohol for what it is, the alcohol addiction recovery process can truly begin.

Dealing with Addiction’s Components

The alcohol addiction recovery process meets two essential treatment requirements: eliminating the physical dependency component and treating the psychological dependency component. Detoxification treatment helps a person stop drinking, thereby eliminating the body’s physical dependency on alcohol. As withdrawal effects can persist long after a person stops drinking, some people may require ongoing medication therapy to help reduce drug cravings and keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.

Alcohol addiction recovery programs address addiction’s psychological component through psychotherapy, group therapy and support group work. These options enable recovering alcoholics to develop new ways of coping with everyday life while confronting whatever issues drive their addiction cravings.


Someone suffering from alcohol addiction has essentially entered into a destructive lifestyle where his or her priorities, thoughts and behaviors center around getting and drinking alcohol. As important as the early stages of recovery are, aftercare treatment provides the needed supports for maintaining an alcohol-free lifestyle.

As a bare minimum, aftercare treatment should consist of ongoing participation in a 12-Step support group. Most, if not all alcohol addiction recovery programs include 12-Step support group work as part of their treatment approach, which makes it easy for participants to transition into community-based groups. Some people may also benefit from ongoing psychotherapy treatment in addition to regular attendance at a 12-Step support group.