Getting Help for Your Drinking Problem

Alcoholic Resources Available Whatever the Income

Woman on phone calling for help
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If you have decided to stop drinking, there is a world of help available to you if you are willing to take the first step and ask. By admitting you have a problem, you’ve already taken the first step. Now it's time to seek treatment to improve your chances of a successful and sustained recovery.

Where to Start Looking

Knowing where to find help is not always easy. While your first instinct may be to look in the phone book or do a Google search, a good resource may be closer than you think.

Start with your own doctor. He or she is already familiar with your health and may be aware (or suspect) that you have a drinking problem. Moreover, it’s often easier to speak with someone you know rather than a total stranger. And, because your doctor knows you, he or she can often shortcut the process and refer you to the most appropriate treatment resource without delay.

On the other hand, some people prefer a bit of anonymity when first starting out.

If this is you, you may want to reach out to an addiction and alcohol hotline such as that offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Many of these hotlines are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and have trained staff able to direct you to qualified treatment programs in your area.

Assessing Your Needs

Once you have been referred to a program in your area, you will meet with a clinical specialist experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of alcoholism.

When you meet, he or she will ask you a number of questions to establish the extent of your drinking problem. It is important to answer these questions as fully and honestly as possible. You will also be given a physical exam to determine if your drinking has caused any health problems.

While the process may seem unnerving and clinical at first, understand the aim is to assess your needs as an individual.

While the treatment of alcoholism has its general structure, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are many different approaches to treatment today, and the goal of intake is to find the one that is the safest and most appropriate for you.

At the same time, you need to make informed choices. Ask as many questions as want and inquire about all of the treatment options available to you. Just because you’ve decided to seek help doesn’t mean that decisions are now in someone else’s hands. You and you alone will make the call on which treatment course to take.

Treatment Options

Based on your assessment, treatment may involve several phases. If you are found to have a chemical dependency on alcohol, treatment may involve detoxification which typically takes seven to 10 days. This is most often accompanied by a residential rehab program of 30 to 45 days during which time you would receive individual and/or group counseling.

Medications may also be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms of detoxification and to reduce cravings.

Alternately, you may be treated on an outpatient basis with many of the same program features. Virtually all outpatients efforts include regular attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) ​meetings which apply a spiritual, non-religious approach to alcohol recovery.

With that being said, AA is not the only form of treatment available. There are other approaches to recovery, both secular and non-secular, which are typically accompanied by psychological counseling and/or doctor-led care.

If the cost of treatment is prohibitive, some people can find support groups and self-help programs through community health centers and faith-based organizations, or access residential rehab programs through ​Medicaid or Medicare providers.

Because alcoholism is a disease that affects the entire family, spouses, children, siblings, and parents of alcoholics may find much-needed support by attending Al-Anon and Alateen meetings, as well.