Alcoholic man rubs his face, empty bottles in foreground. Maybe this is his last binge before starting alcohol abuse treatment.Many alcohol abuse treatment programs are highly effective. That being said, many don’t work at all.

By “don’t work at all” we mean that they have the same success rate as somebody just simply trying to stop abusing alcohol on their own. Believe it or not, many alcohol rehab centers have a LOWER success rate than just going it on your own. So participating in a program that doesn’t work can actually be not only a waste of time but can actually lower your chances for recovery.

The do-it-yourself drug rehab method is not recommended, either, because it only works one or two times out of ten at best.

What Works in Alcohol Abuse Treatment

Alcohol is a difficult substance to kick because it’s broadly available. It’s in every convenience store and gas station. It’s present at every party. If a rehab program is going to be effective in helping a person stay off of alcohol, it has to do more than just get him through the withdrawal phase. It’s going to give him life coaching and coping skills that help him be able to resist or ignore the urge to drink whenever it occurs. Ideally it helps him reach of frame of mind where he has no interest in drinking and no further compulsion before he ever walks out the doors of the rehab.

Also, effective alcohol rehabs follow up with their clients. Addiction is a progression, not a destination. Similarly, after someone has recovered from addiction, he still has a long road to travel before he achieves stability. Simple follow-up phone calls by a rehab’s counselors can help the ex-alcoholic keep on track, but you would be surprised how many rehabs neglect to do this.

Another point is assisted withdrawal. Assisted withdrawal is where an alcoholic is helped through all aspects of detox, taking into account the physical suffering (which can be to some degree relieved with proper fluids, electrolytes, vitamins and nutrition) as well as the mental strain (which includes irritability, frustration, and obsessive thoughts and can be helped with such simple remedies as a counselor talking it out or distracting him by focusing his attention on the environment or outside world.)

What Doesn’t Work in Alcohol Abuse Rehab

Substituting one drug for another is a completely unworkable “solution” that somehow has been gaining popularity without any scientific proof of its efficacy. While methadone is the most commonly known drug substitute “therapy,” there are cases where psychoactive drugs are recommended to alcoholics in order to prevent cravings, etc. Obviously this is not a solution for someone who is trying to get rid of substance dependence, not get more of it.

If you or your friend has a problem with alcohol, the worst thing you could do is nothing at all

Quitting cold turkey is not a recommended course because the alcoholic’s body is in a state that is intolerant to dramatic change. The more gradual the change you can introduce, the better. Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol are traumatic enough without making it more difficult by heroic efforts. Alcohol is one of the few drugs that has a withdrawal cycle that is potentially fatal in more than 5% of cases.

Probably the thing that works worst of all is DOING NOTHING. In other words, if you or your friend or family member has a problem with alcohol, the worst thing you could do is nothing at all. Because of the nature of alcohol, the problems it causes get worse and worse unless you do something to make a change.