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Alcohol Addiction Recovery: What to Expect

Alcohol Addiction Recovery What to Expect

How is Alcohol Addiction Defined?

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcohol use disorder (AUD) or alcoholism, is a chronic disease that affects people from all walks of life. Many factors can contribute to someone developing an AUD including genetics, mental health disorders, and socioeconomic, however, there is not one single cause. Alcoholism is a real disease that causes changes to a person’s brain and neurochemistry, leading to a compulsive need to drink. It can show up in a variety of ways and exists on a spectrum ranging from mild to severe. While alcoholism is a life-long disease, there are ways to manage it and alcohol addiction recovery is possible.

Alcoholism is one of the most common addictions in the US. Alcohol addiction is marked by a craving for alcohol and the inability to stop drinking despite negative consequences to one’s life and health. AUD does not occur overnight; it is a slow process that only gets worse with time. When a person begins to abuse alcohol frequently, they build up a tolerance and need more alcohol to get the same effect they did at the beginning. Eventually, the body develops an alcohol dependence and needs it to function properly. They will develop withdrawal symptoms and cravings when they attempt to cut back or stop using. This physical dependence, which is the body’s physical inability to stop drinking and the presence of alcohol cravings, is what defines alcohol addiction.

Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Individuals with alcohol addiction may go to extreme measures such as hiding alcohol, lying, stealing, and drinking liquids with alcohol such as mouthwash, to obtain alcohol due to cravings and out of fear of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawals from alcohol include increased heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, hot flashes, tremors, agitation, and seizures. Alcohol withdrawals can be dangerous and life-threatening, so it is always best to seek out professional help from alcohol addiction recovery centers when wanting to stop drinking.

10 Signs it’s Time for Help with Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol use disorder exists on a spectrum and symptoms can range from mild to severe. It can be difficult to define when your drinking has become problematic and even more challenging to know you need help with alcohol abuse. As alcohol use disorder progresses, the signs that indicate a problem become more apparent and more difficult to ignore. If you are already questioning your drinking habits, having trouble cutting back on your own, and wondering if you need help, these are already signs. Some other signs that point towards having lost control of your drinking habits and needing alcohol addiction recovery help, include:

  1. Developing Tolerance to Alcohol. It may have only taken a drink or two to get the buzz you were looking for before, but now you find it takes four to five drinks to get the same desired effect, your body has developed tolerance.  Others may comment on how much you drink without getting intoxicated. Building tolerance to alcohol is a sign your drinking has become problematic.
  2. Engaging in High-Risk Situations While Drinking. Alcohol can lower your inhibitions and individuals who have developed a tolerance may be overconfident in their ability to do tasks, such as operating heavy machinery or driving. Engaging in these activities while under the influence can lead to accidents hurting yourself or others or legal issues.
  3. Developing Withdrawal Symptoms and Cravings When Not Drinking. Experiencing alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, jumpiness, anxiety, heart palpitations, and increased heart rate are signs your body has become dependent on alcohol.
  4. Memory Loss When Drinking. Excessive drinking can lead to lapses in memory and blackouts. People may reference recent conversations or events that they do not remember because they were drinking to excess.
  5. Experiencing Financial, Social, Work, and Relationship Issues. Alcohol addiction is expensive which can lead to financial issues. Frequently drinking to excess can also lead to missing work, chronic tardiness, or a decline in your work which can cause issues with coworkers or being fired. You may miss out on responsibilities with loved ones because of your drinking causing problems in relationships.
  6. Drinking in the Morning or Alone. A clear warning that you may need help with alcohol abuse is drinking in the early morning. You may also be drinking heavily alone or to deal with mental health symptoms.
  7. Loss of Interest in Activities Once Enjoyed. Alcohol addiction will take over all areas of your life, so you will begin to lose interest in hobbies and activities you once enjoyed doing.
  8. Inability to Cut Back or Stop Drinking on Your Own. Unsuccessful attempts at cutting back or stopping drinking on your own, even when wanting to, are telling you that you are unable to control your alcohol intake anymore. Physical and psychological dependence causes compulsive alcohol use.
  9. Continuing to Use Alcohol Even When It Has led to Negative Consequences. You may have lost friendships, relationships, and your job, have legal problems and have health issues all related to your excess drinking, but even that won’t allow you to stop drinking on your own.
  10. Spending a lot of Time Getting, Using, or Recovering from Alcohol. Alcohol addiction will take up more of your time and you will find all your energy and day goes into drinking alcohol or recovering from it.

Recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime.

What to Expect When Seeking Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

Deciding to get help for alcohol addiction recovery is difficult and it is normal to feel apprehensive about what to expect from treatment. Just as alcohol addiction exists in a variety of ways, there are various forms of treatment for alcohol use disorders. Treatment programs are available in several formats and intensities, depending on the severity of your AUD.

The first step when checking into a rehabilitation center is a thorough evaluation of your physical and psychological health. A team of clinicians will go through your addiction history to determine what treatment program is best suited for you, whether you need medical detox, and create a personalized treatment plan. They will go through their recommendations with you and together you will decide which alcohol rehab program is best suited for your addiction and personal needs.

Severe alcohol addiction usually requires medical detox as the first step. Withdrawals from severe alcohol addiction can be dangerous and life-threatening, which require around-the-clock medical care and medication-assisted treatment to ensure safety. Supervised alcohol detox will use FDA-approved medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings as well as other medications to keep your vitals in check and reduce the risk of seizures and hallucinations. Those with mild AUDs would also benefit from alcohol detox programs as medications and holistic therapies used can greatly reduce withdrawals and cravings which often cause early relapse. Alcohol detox lays a solid foundation for the recovery process and ensures you enter alcohol rehab programs with a clear body and mind.

The next step in the recovery process is alcohol rehab, which can be made up of a combination of several levels of care. Residential inpatient treatment offers the most intensive form of recovery treatment. Patients are required to live at the treatment facility full time where they are given a highly structured daily schedule to begin building healthy habits and routines for successful long-term recovery. Inpatient alcohol rehab also provides the opportunity to separate yourself from outside triggers, stressors, and influences so you can fully focus on your recovery and prevent relapses during the beginning stages when you are most vulnerable.

Outpatient treatment is another option in alcohol rehab. However, it is best used as a step-down program from inpatient treatment. Outpatient alcohol rehab will allow you to live at home or a sober living facility for the duration of your program and travel to the rehab facility several days a week for an allotted block of treatment.

Several levels of care exist under outpatient rehab including partial hospitalization program (PHP), intensive outpatient program (IOP), and outpatient treatment. PHP is the most intensive form of outpatient alcohol rehab. Patients are required to attend addiction therapies 5 to 7 days a week for a full day of treatment, only going home or to a sober living facility at the end of the day. IOPs are much more flexible and can be scheduled around work, school, or home obligations. Patients will be required to attend addiction therapies 3 to 5 days a week for a few hours, which can be scheduled early morning, evenings, or weekends so participants can go to work or school full time. The next step is outpatient treatment and patients can schedule the number of therapies they feel they need. This program allows patients to begin taking charge of their recovery.

All treatment programs will include various therapies and services aimed at helping you recover from addiction and gain the appropriate skills and tools to remain sober outside of rehab. The biggest bulk of alcohol addiction recovery programs is made up of individual and group therapy sessions. Within counseling, you can expect several types of therapy including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. Group therapy sessions will allow the opportunity to connect with others in recovery, share similar experiences, and provide mutual support. Alcohol recovery programs may also include family therapy sessions to help mend broken relationships and teach loved ones how to better support you through your recovery. Rehab centers may include holistic therapies such as yoga, acupuncture, and meditation to heal the effects of addiction and allow patients to explore ways to manage triggers and co-occurring disorders. Medication-assisted treatment can also be beneficial for relieving long-term withdrawal symptoms and cravings while also managing mental health disorders. Your recovery program may also include life and vocational skills training if necessary.

What Happens After Alcohol Addiction Treatment?

Alcohol addiction recovery is a lifelong journey. The work towards sobriety does not end the day you graduate from alcohol rehab. As a chronic disorder, you will need to constantly work on your sobriety through individual therapy, support groups, lifestyle changes, and a variety of other methods including holistic therapies. Many alcohol addiction recovery centers include aftercare programs and alumni programs to help their patients transition into the real world and maintain active recovery.

Aftercare programs are essential for easy reintegration into your daily life. While sobriety may be easy during alcohol rehab where you have support from counselors and peers, going back to the real world on your own can be overwhelming. Often, individuals who have struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, experience ongoing systemic issues to maintain their sobriety, such as difficulty finding a job or affordable, sober housing. They may also be dealing with legal issues. Stress and worry associated with reintegration can be significant relapse triggers. Aftercare programs can provide access to the following resources after completing alcohol detox and rehab:

  • Individual counseling
  • Career counseling and support
  • Legal advice and support
  • Case management
  • 12 step meetings
  • Coaching and goal-setting
  • Academic support
  • Financial planning and budgeting support
  • Sober living housing

Alcohol rehabs may also offer alumni programs and are one of the best ways to sustain recovery. Alumni programs are safe spaces used to create a community among those in recovery. They will coordinate a variety of events including monthly meetings, guest speakers, and sober outings. Alumni can connect, engage in community volunteering events, and have access to several resources. This is a great way to continue engaging with others who are in recovery and reduce the isolation often experienced by those new to sobriety. Alumni can also stay connected to treatment center counselors and staff who they can reach out to when sobriety gets difficult.

Rehab is not the end of the journey to alcohol addiction recovery, but only the beginning. While it may teach you the necessary coping and life skills for successful sobriety and help you heal from the effects of addiction, it is important to have enough support throughout your life.

What Percentage of Alcohol Addicts Successfully Quit Drinking?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the percentage of alcoholics that fully recovered from alcohol dependence – meaning they were completely abstinent or became “low-risk drinker” – is 35.9%, or over one-third. The longer someone has dealt with alcohol addiction, the lower their chances are for successful recovery. This percentage emphasizes the importance of early intervention. The longer someone stays in recovery, the better their chances are for sobriety as well. 60% of individuals who stayed sober for two years after alcohol addiction recovery treatment remained in recovery and those who stayed sober for five years and over, usually stayed that way.

Every person’s journey with recovery is unique and how successful a person is depending on several factors. Addiction treatment programs are most successful when they provide personalized treatment plans made up of a wide range of addiction therapies. Length of rehab is also important and those who spend more time in their recovery program have the highest success. Individuals will also be more successful if they complete several levels of care. A combination of quality addiction treatment, putting in the work, and continuing active in recovery efforts increases the chances of staying sober.  

Recovery is a process that lasts a lifetime.

Magnolia Offers the Tools Necessary to Overcome Alcohol Addiction

Magnolia Recovery of LA offers you the chance to gain back control of your life from alcohol addiction in our small, 6-bed facility in Los Angeles, California. We truly believe in your ability to achieve alcohol addiction recovery along with the right tools. Through our personalized treatment plans, each patient will be able to heal from the effects of alcohol abuse and addiction. We employ a multidisciplinary staff of professionals who will walk the road of recovery with you and provide you with the types of addiction therapies to reach the root cause of substance abuse.

Our inpatient programs include medically supervised detox for clients to overcome withdrawal symptoms safely in a comfortable and private setting. Clients can continue through several levels of care including residential inpatient treatment, PHP, IOP, and aftercare programs. All levels of care include an integrative approach that uses proven conventional addiction treatment methods with holistic therapies designed to support body, mind, and spirit healing.

If you feel your alcohol use has gotten out of control and would like to learn more about how Magnolia Recovery’s addiction treatment programs can help you successfully stop drinking, please give us a call today at (818) 431-2224. Our addiction specialist can answer your questions or get you started on the admissions process.


  • As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.

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Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. Before making any decisions on your physical or mental health, please consult your doctor. The staff at Magnolia Recovery Center will work with our patients on a custom diagnosis and care plan. Specific medical advice will be provided to our patients while in our care.