Learning to Live Without Alcohol

When an alcoholic enters rehab, he must detox first. For most alcoholics, detox lasts between three and seven days in.

“Step-down” drugs are administered to the alcoholic to bring him down from alcohol safely and as comfortably as possible. Alcohol withdrawal, even with “step-down” drugs does not feel good, by any stretch of the imagination. But it can be made more tolerable.


An addict should always detox in a medical detox. This is because he can have a seizure and die if alcohol consumption is suddenly stopped. Benzodiazepines are the “step-down” most commonly used because they are in the same molecular “family” as alcohol. Withdrawal starts with a higher dose of benzodiazepine, which is gradually lowered until the recovering alcoholic has completely withdrawn.


Now the recovering alcoholic or “client” can now begin treatment.
Treatment consists of cognitive behavioral therapy, education on alcohol, written assignments, group therapy, counseling and psychotropic medications, like antidepressants and mood stabilizers, if necessary.
In group therapy the client’s defense mechanisms are gradually broken down by the other members until he finally realizes the magnitude of his alcoholism. The client has probably been experiencing negative consequences on the job, at home, in his health, and with the law. He has lost control of his drinking and his life.

Now the client’s guilt is addressed in group therapy and with his counselor. He suddenly realizes that he is not a “bad” person — but, instead, he is a sick person. Alcoholism is a full-blown disease because it is chronic, progressive and fatal, if it is not arrested.

This revelation of “sickness,” instead of “badness” revolutionizes his recovery process. He begins to understand why he did bad things to get his alcohol. He is taught that — for a non-alcoholic, and this comprises 95% of the population — alcohol is a great servant. It is a social lubricant and is associated with parties and fun.
But alcohol is a terrible “master.” It will eventually kill the alcoholic. Before an alcoholic dies, he has usually lost his home, his family, his drivers’ license, his freedom, his finances, his friends and his self-esteem.

Two Goals in Recovery:

In rehab, there are two main goals over and above abstinence:

1. To understand himself and others as people who feel; and
2. To identify the defenses that prevent this understanding.

Once a recovering alcoholic is experiencing these important recovery milestones, he is well on the way to getting better.

Relapse Plan:

When the recovering alcoholic is getting close to graduating from rehab, he makes up a Relapse Plan. This consists of a series of steps that he will take when he has a craving on the outside. These preventative steps could include calling his AA sponsor, attending an AA meeting, or some other constructive action.

One Day at a Time:

AA is essential for every recovering alcoholic. There he will make friends who will help him to stay sober one day at a time for the rest of his life.

For more information, go to Treatment Centers