Getting to a point where you admit you need alcohol rehabilitation treatment is difficult, and taking that next step can feel daunting. We’re here to help. You might not always have too much of a choice in the matter when it comes to finding treatment, but if you do, you need to watch out for certain criteria. Whether you’re looking for inpatient alcohol rehab for yourself or you’re trying to find a suitable treatment option for a loved one, there’s no question that you want to land on the best fit for your specific needs. We’ll take you through some of the things to look for.
First, we’ll go over some of the common methods of treatment out there. There’s no way you’ll be an expert in alcohol use disorder treatment by the end of this piece, but there’s a great chance that you’ll have a better understanding of the lay of the land so you can ask the right questions when necessary. After that, we’ll touch on some more general things to look for when you’re trying to decide on the right alcohol rehabilitation treatment.
Different Alcohol Rehabilitation Treatment Modalities
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment for an alcohol use disorder. There are even different ways to go about the same type of treatment — not everyone will have the same inpatient alcohol rehab experience, for example, even if they attend similar programs. Here, we’ll take you through some of the most common treatment modalities.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
You might have heard of this type of therapy in a different context outside of inpatient alcohol rehab. It’s a very common method used to treat depression, phobias, and anxiety disorders. It can also be helpful in the treatment of substance use disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a way to change the way you think about outside events, people, and situations. The idea is that while you cannot always change those types of external stimuli and circumstances, you can change how you think, feel, and react to them.
CBT is usually used in individual therapy sessions. There are other types on this list that are more primarily suited to group therapy settings. The therapist or counselor will work with the client primarily in two phases. The first is called functional analysis, and that’s where the causes and consequences of a behavior (in this case, drinking) are analyzed. The other part, skills training, is focused on teaching the client healthier habits and coping mechanisms.
Through using technology to track bodily responses to stress, clients participating in this type of therapy learn to keep themselves calm. When you’re in a stressful situation, you might be tempted to drink again. If you can regulate that response and remain calm instead, you can stay in control. That’s the goal of this kind of treatment. That specialized equipment shows you those automatic responses, like increased heart rate and faster breathing, so that you can be aware of them. If you can recognize those responses, then you can implement relaxation techniques (like breathing exercises) to control them.
This kind of therapy doesn’t usually stand alone, and it works best when paired with other types of treatment. You might find it during inpatient alcohol rehab.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy
Lots of people who find themselves in inpatient alcohol rehab with an alcohol use disorder use drinking to cope with difficult experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which means it can lower feelings of stress and anxiety. So, when people are feeling stressed and anxious, they often reach for a drink to help them feel more relaxed, if only temporarily. That means managing difficult emotions is a big part of managing alcohol use disorder, and that’s what dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, is built to do.
DBT is actually a form of CBT that was developed in the 1980s by Marsha Linehan. It aims to integrate opposites, helping clients to manage big, difficult emotions by changing some things and accepting others. There are four main modules of any DBT program: Mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. These sessions happen both individually and in a group setting.
While methods like CBT and DBT are very specific modes of treatment, experiential therapy is a broad category that encompasses a lot of different types of treatment. This makes it a little bit trickier to define than some of the others we’ve already discussed. The term generally includes any type of therapy that gets patients involved with activities that go beyond traditional talk therapy. You’ll find art, music, and equine therapy all listed as different types of experiential therapy on offer at different inpatient alcohol rehab centers.
Focusing on basic things like sleep, nutrition, and exercise, holistic therapy aims to get you on the right foot in all aspects of your health while you’re in recovery. These methods are best used to complement other, medical forms of treatment. Activities involved in holistic therapy might include:
- Tai chi
Not everyone is fully motivated to approach their recovery head-on when they enter treatment, not even in all inpatient alcohol rehab programs. So, sometimes it’s necessary to address this lack of motivation or ambivalence toward change. This is especially true for those who have already attempted to quit drinking but could not sustain that initial motivation.
In motivational interviewing, you’ll be aiming to understand the nature of addiction, stopping drinking, improving health and functioning, and reducing risky behavior, among other goals. If you’re not sure if you’re ready to make serious changes to your life, then you might benefit from motivational interviewing.
Another similar type of therapy that is sometimes used in inpatient alcohol rehab programs is called motivational enhancement therapy, and they’re often used interchangeably. Both of these types of treatment are based on the same principles. The goal there is to encourage you to find internal motivation and develop a plan to change. When paired with other forms of treatment, it can be very effective.
The main focus in this kind of treatment that you might encounter during inpatient alcohol rehab is self-reflection. Examining your inner life is a crucial component to uncovering the roots of the pain someone might feel that drives their alcohol use disorder.
We’ve already mentioned that some of these types of therapy happen in group or individual settings, or both, but you can also consider group therapy its own category. Most inpatient alcohol rehab programs will have a mix of both individual and group sessions. There are definitely benefits to each approach, but one of the main things you’ll gain from group counseling is a community of people going through similar struggles. Peers in a group session can both give and receive support, which can be a helpful part of the recovery process.
One specific form of group counseling is family counseling. This type of program aims to get the whole system of people around an individual on the same page.
You’ve probably heard of Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA. If you haven’t, it’s the organization that originated the concept of a 12-step program. Those 12 steps have been widely adopted across the treatment of different substance use disorders, and they have a long track record of success.
Most people complete their inpatient alcohol rehab program before they join a support group like AA, but those can be facilitated while you’re still in a residential treatment setting.
This kind of treatment has gotten a lot more popular in recent years. For someone who has good support at home and doesn’t need an inpatient alcohol rehab, taking advantage of the rise in telehealth services could be a good fit.
Basically, this is like regular outpatient therapy, except you’ll connect with your therapist via the internet rather than in their office.
Why do there need to be so many types of treatment?
With all these different options on the table, it can get confusing. You might be wondering why there need to be so many kinds of alcohol rehabilitation treatment methods in the first place.
The short answer is that each person is going to come to alcohol rehabilitation treatment with different needs. Some people respond better to certain types of therapy, while others don’t see as promising of results from the same methods. Plus, outside factors can have a huge impact on what type of treatment setting is right for an individual. Some people need to be taken out of toxic situations and greatly benefit from inpatient alcohol rehab, while others have lots of support at home and are better off with some form of an outpatient program.
There are also some question as to the efficacy of many forms of alcohol rehabilitation treatment. We’ll get to this in a later section, but you should always be looking for evidence-based programs.
What should I look for in an alcohol rehabilitation treatment program?
Now that you know a little bit about the different types of alcohol rehabilitation treatment out there, you might be ready to start searching for an appropriate program for yourself or for a loved one. We’ve put together some criteria to help you narrow down your options.
Choose evidence-based programs.
You might be intrigued by a new kind of therapy, but make sure they’re not just making it up as they go along. You should trust your doctor to steer you in the right direction. And if you don’t have a doctor to consult, then you should do a little bit of your own research. Also be sure to ask the alcohol rehabilitation treatment facility the right questions. You can inquire about their methods, what kinds of accreditations they have, the education and experience levels of their staff, and other sorts of topics in order to make sure that they know what they’re doing. You want to be absolutely sure you’re taking part in a program you can trust. If they give you any pushback, that might be a red flag.
Be wary of statistics — make sure you know what you’re looking at.
Lots of people want to look at success rates when they’re trying to make a decision about which alcohol rehabilitation treatment program to choose. There are several different types of numbers inpatient alcohol rehab centers will use as success rates. They might track the percentage of people who actually complete the program, or they might follow up with former clients after a certain amount of time to see if they’re still sober. Know what kind of statistic you’re looking at when a program presents it to you, and make sure you can compare apples to apples if you’re looking at different inpatient alcohol rehab programs.
We’ve already discussed why there are so many different options for alcohol rehabilitation treatment — because of the highly individualized nature of the need. When you’re trying to decide on an alcohol rehabilitation treatment program, make sure your treatment team is working to meet your specific needs. No two people are going to respond the exact same to the same type of treatment. If you get the sense that anyone is trying to pressure you into a program that’s not the right fit, don’t go along with it.
Find the right alcohol rehabilitation treatment.
The bottom line is that finding the right alcohol rehabilitation treatment for your specific needs is vital to achieving the best results. Now that you have a bit of a better idea of what’s out there in terms of different therapies and programs, you should be ready to find the right inpatient alcohol rehab or other type of treatment for your needs. We also gave you a few general things to watch out for during the process.
If you need somewhere to start looking for the right alcohol rehabilitation treatment for you, consider our programs here at Harris House. We offer several different kinds of alcohol rehabilitation treatment as well as other kinds of addiction treatment. Don’t hesitate to reach out, and we can have a conversation about whether you might be a good fit for one of our programs.