As a trained professional helps one work to resolve the internalized pain of the past, they will become able to start handling conflict without the destructive effect of alcohol. If underlying issues are left unresolved, however, one faces a higher risk of forms of compulsive behavior other than compulsive drinking, such as gambling, excessive sport, excessive sexual activity, or compulsive eating. According to experts, the third stage can be seen as the first real step toward recovery, as it’s when the recovering alcoholic has made a firm commitment to stop. It pays off to invest in specialized guidance, as jumping into the process without understanding what it involves can make a recovery from alcohol and its effects harder than it has to be. This stage can be seen as training for life without drinking because there are quite a few complicated emotions to work through. Losing the support alcohol gives can cause one to spiral into grief, a process characterized by denial, depression, and anger.

  • Working to stop alcohol use to improve quality of life is the main treatment goal.
  • This stage begins after approximately three months of not drinking alcohol.
  • Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this condition.
  • Alcoholism, referred to as alcohol use disorder, occurs when someone drinks so much that their body eventually becomes dependent on or addicted to alcohol.
  • The alcoholic probably isn’t sleeping or eating well at this point and may not be keeping up with personal hygiene.

We often seem to fight addiction with one (or both!) arms behind our backs. Find a treatment center using the Psychology Today Therapy Directory. In a clinical setting, motivational interviewing, Easy bruising: Why does it happen? which cultivates the drive to change behaviors, and Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral, and Treatment (SBIRT), which funnels patients to treatment, are also helpful options.

Starting With a Primary Care Doctor

You should also consider attending a local AA meeting or participating in a self-help program such as Women for Sobriety. You may need to seek treatment at an inpatient facility if your addiction to alcohol is severe. These facilities will provide you with 24-hour care as you withdraw from alcohol and recover from your addiction.


When seeking professional help, it is important that you feel respected and understood and that you have a feeling of trust that this person, group, or organization can help you. Remember, though, that relationships with doctors, therapists, and other health professionals can take time to develop. Ideally, health professionals would be able to identify which AUD treatment is most effective for each person. NIAAA and other organizations are conducting research to identify genes and other factors that can predict how well someone will respond to a particular treatment. These advances could optimize how treatment decisions are made in the future. It is important to remember that not all people will respond to medications, but for a subset of individuals, they can be an important tool in overcoming alcohol dependence.

What are the symptoms of alcohol use disorder?

Some are surprised to learn that there are medications on the market approved to treat alcohol dependence. The newer types of these medications work by offsetting changes in the brain caused by AUD. Research shows that about one-third of people who are treated for alcohol problems have no further symptoms 1 year later. Many others substantially reduce their drinking and report fewer alcohol-related problems. The pathway to healing and recovery is often a process that occurs over many years. Addiction not only involves the individual suffering, but their partner, their family, and their friends as well.

If you feel that you sometimes drink too much alcohol, or your drinking is causing problems, or if your family is concerned about your drinking, talk with your health care provider. Other ways to get help include talking with a mental health professional or seeking help from a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar type of self-help group. Some experts maintain that there are only five steps of recovery, but most organizations include this one as the sixth and last stage. As a rule, a person who reaches it no longer needs their former way of life.

Risk factors

Alcohol use disorder affects millions of people, but it often goes undetected. Substance use frequently co-occurs with mental illness, but some research suggests that psychiatrists only treat addiction for around half of the patients who have both mental illness and substance use problems. Find up-to-date statistics on lifetime drinking, past-year drinking, past-month drinking, binge drinking, heavy alcohol use, and high-intensity drinking. Some signs and symptoms of alcohol misuse may be due to another condition. Alcoholism, now known as alcohol use disorder, is a condition in which a person has a desire or physical need to consume alcohol.