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Alcohol Related


Articles of Interest:

Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol Treatment

Alcohol Use and Abuse: An Introduction

Alcohol Dependence, Abuse and Intoxication

Alcohol Withdrawal

Addiction and Abuse Related Disorders

Alcohol Related Psychotic and Mood Disorders

Alcohol Induced Anxiety, Sleep & Sexual Disorders

Alcohol Abuse: How do you assess a problem?

Alcohol Abuse and Related Medical Illnesses

Alcoholism Gene Factors Show Up in Very Young

Negative Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Women

Negative Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Adolescents and the Elderly

Alcohol Abuse Treatment

Alcohol Abuse: Matching Treatment With Individuals

Managing Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol Abuse Treatment: Psychosocial Interventions   

Men Tend To Crave Alcohol More Than Women 

Addiction Articles of Interest:

Addiction Recovery - The Key to Abstinence     

Get the Support You Need After Quitting an Addiction   

How to Overcome Drug Addiction with Help From Self Hypnosis  

How to Overcome Addiction to Pornography  

The Four Stages of Addiction

Website Map/All Articles


Alcohol Abuse Treatment: Psychosocial Interventions 

A variety of components of alcohol abuse treatment may be delivered within the context of alcohol rehabilitation services.  In many alcohol abuse treatment programs, a variety of therapeutic interventions are provided to all individuals based upon the assumption that by providing a multitude of treatment components, you may have a greater probability of meeting at least some of an individual’s treatment needs. Therapeutic approaches most often used in both residential and outpatient programs include behavior therapy, group therapy, family therapy and the use of medications.  Research has found that behavioral treatment seem to be more effective at the present time than insight-oriented or family therapies.  Also, research continues to dictate that 12-step facilitation, based upon the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is probably as effective as more theory based therapies.  Controlled studies provide little support for the effectiveness of psychodynamic psychotherapy as an appropriate alcohol abuse treatment intervention. 

Among the most heavily investigated theory-based treatments are the cognitive behavior therapy approaches. Some of the cognitive behavioral elements most frequently employed in these programs facilitate relapse prevention, improve social skills and assertiveness training, contingency management, muscle relaxation, self-control training and cognitive restructuring.  Aversion therapy based upon the theories of Pavlov’s conditioning theory, have been virtually abandoned in the United States.  Although it has been demonstrated that pairing the taste, sight and smells of alcohol with noxious stimuli (i.e. chemically induced nausea and vomiting), procedures are very expensive and have not been shown to be superior to other much less drastic alcohol abuse treatment interventions. 


Behavior therapists stress the importance of teaching new adaptive skills designed to alter the conditions that precipitate and reinforce drinking as well as developing alternative ways of coping with feelings, events and persons that serve to maintain the drinking pattern.  A number of studies related to effective alcohol abuse treatment have demonstrated the benefits of teaching social and other coping skills. Also, researchers have tested a treatment model characterized as "relapse prevention" which focuses on identifying and coping with situations that represent high risk to resume heavy drinking, and have stated that alcoholics who received this skills training and have attended aftercare groups regularly, were found to have less severe relapses than other individuals in control groups who did not receive these interventions.  These and other trials of cognitive behavioral alcohol abuse treatments have provided the empirical basis for the elaboration of a relatively generalized relapse prevention strategy. 

The terribly destructive effects of alcoholism on marriages and families has been a source of concern to both clinicians, researchers, and families for many decades.  Alcoholism creates a major stress on the family system by threatening health, economic functioning, and interpersonal relationships and exerts many other deleterious effects on the family.  Although research has found a relatively strong association between healthy family functioning and a positive outcome following alcohol abuse treatment, little systematic evaluation has been undertaken to assess the efficacy of “family approaches” to either reduce alcohol problems or to improve family functioning. 

The majority of studies have focused on marital treatment rather than family treatment approaches.  In several studies that have been conducted, it has been shown that behavioral marital therapy seems to be superior to individuals in control groups in both the reduction in drinking and the maintenance of sobriety. 

In addition to specific alcohol abuse treatment for alcoholic couples or families, self-help groups for family members of alcoholics have grown substantially and have proven to be effective.  Al-Anon, although not formally affiliated with AA, shares the basic structure and many of the tenants of the 12-step program.  Al-Anon and AA meetings are often held jointly and are sometimes also joined by Alateen groups sponsored by Al-Anon for children of alcoholics.  Overall, these programs have been found to be important adjuncts to successful alcohol abuse treatments. 

From DSM-IV-TR Mental Disorders: Diagnosis, Etiology and Treatment by Michael B. First and Allan Tasman

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic  MA Licensed Psychologist   Ph.D. Candidate  (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)

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