alcoholic going through withdrawal detox in silhouetteOne of the major pitfalls to avoid in choosing an alcohol rehab program for yourself or loved ones is the mistake of “underkill”. In other words, it’s important to correctly estimate how difficult it’s going to be for you to reach your goal from rehab.

Setting a Realistic Alcohol Treatment Program Goal

The first step to avoid this pitfall is to decide what your goal should be. In our experience, any alcohol treatment program goal short of a clean and sober life is not worth your time. The reason for this is if your goal is you want to drink less or you want to have more control over your drinking or you just only want to drink sometimes, or you want to stop binge drinking but you still want to drink socially – these are definitely goals that are possible to achieve, but are goals that per statistics and scientific research, are goals that are almost never maintained.

Meaning that if you were to go to rehab with that goal and achieve it, very rapidly you would go back to your old ways. That doesn’t mean that that is absolutely the case with you in particular, but statistically it means that a much more stable destination, one which you can maintain and have success with, is “a clean and happy life”.

There are many people who go to rehab saying that they want to quit alcohol but really thinking that they want to “reduce” their alcohol consumption.

The first pitfall to avoid in going to an alcohol rehab center is setting the correct goal for yourself — a goal that will be worth it in the long run. If you have the goal of just reducing your alcohol consumption, then it’s very likely that all the time you spend in rehab will be wasted.

Don’t Underestimate Your Alcohol Treatment Program Needs

The second pitfall to avoid in choosing an alcohol treatment program is that it’s very easy to underestimate what it’s going to take in order to reach your goal. The reasons for this are many-fold. One is that from the viewpoint of friends and family members, for every one drink that they see an alcoholic drink, there are literally dozens or even hundreds that they don’t see taken. No matter how bad family members and friends think the problem is, they’ve only grasped the tip of the iceberg. Also, most friends and family of an alcoholic aren’t alcoholics themselves and so don’t really have a subjective reality on the nature and effects of addiction.

Because of this there’s a tendency to “underkill.” By that we mean any effort to just patch up alcoholism as though with a band-aid. This can range from simply suggesting to the alcoholic that he or she quit cold turkey, to enrolling him on an outpatient alcohol rehab program. These steps are half measures.

In other words, an alcoholic who needs professional help has a severe problem. It’s one that’s difficult to understand or grasp unless you’ve been there. Part of the problem is that the alcoholic doesn’t think it’s a problem. If he really thought it was a problem, if he had hit “rock bottom” so to speak, he would be actively seeking help, and his behavior patterns would be changing. The nature of alcoholism causes the person to resist treatment, and if he is forced into accepting treatment he seeks the least amount of treatment possible.

Most failures in trying to get an alcoholic to stop drinking lie in the fact of too little being done. What is more, failed attempts by the person to get off alcohol make it much more difficult for him to quit. Underkill is a major pitfall in alcohol rehabilitation. It’s far better to overkill.

For example, let’s say the alcoholic enrolls in an alcohol treatment program and it turns out to be a month too long. He only needed it for two months and he’s there for three months. It’s a wasted month in terms of treatment for him to stay sober for the rest of his life. But he never drinks again. Is that worth that wasted month?

Look at it the other way. What if he needed three months of treatment but he only stayed for two months? The program is done and in another month he’s drinking again. Now it’s even harder to get him to a point of stability. Perhaps he needs four months of treatment now in order to recover.

It’s very similar to the problem of antibiotics, where if you quit taking them when you feel better instead of taking the full course of medications as prescribed by your doctor (and in so doing kill every single bacterium causing the infection in your body) the bacteria comes back stronger and more resistive. In the same way, an alcoholic who doesn’t quite manage to squash out his addiction becomes jaded and more difficult to work with. He actually has a much harder time quitting. Our advice to avoid this pitfall is overkill.

If you know your loved one is drinking every night, assume he’s drinking every morning too. If your friend has told you that in a drunken rage he’s hit his wife once, assume ten times that much. If it isn’t the case, fine, because there’s no real harm in overkill. However, if he doesn’t get enough help, he can eventually reach the point where he can’t be helped at all.

We Can Help You Find an Alcohol Treatment Program

Our drug counselors have dealt with the problems of alcohol addiction for many years and have a combined experience of decades of work in the field of drug rehabilitation and alcohol treatment. Along the road they’ve experienced the heartbreak of learning that some of the clients that they have helped, they should have helped them more. And by now they have a good idea of what it takes in order to really, truly help an addict at the level that they need. It’s a subject that’s difficult to confront or deal with. It’s difficult to think about it, really, when it’s your loved one. Of course, the person that addiction is toughest on is the alcoholic himself.

If you or your loved one has a problem with alcohol, we can help you figure out how much treatment you need and also find out what treatment centers are right for you. We help dozens of clients find the right rehab program every single day. It’s tough work, sometimes, but very rewarding when we get that call back from one of our clients who has now graduated a rehab we helped them find and is living clean and sober for life.