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Alcohol Addiction Counseling

Written By
Matt Gonzales
This page features
6 Cited Research Articles

Treatment for alcohol addiction comprises several levels of care, including inpatient detox and outpatient therapy. Counseling can help change perceptions, feelings and behaviors associated with alcohol use. Through therapy, people can also learn ways to cope with triggers and avoid relapse during recovery.

Alcoholism is a disease that affects 18 million U.S. adults, according to the National Institutes of Health. One of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, alcohol addiction can cause car accidents, organ damage and death. It can also lead to mental illness.

However, addiction is treatable. With professional assistance and dedication to sobriety, people of all backgrounds can overcome alcoholism. Treatment approaches for alcohol abuse often involve counseling, which aims to help individuals identify drinking problems and take the steps needed to combat triggers and cravings that can lead to relapse.

Many types of alcohol addiction counseling are available throughout the country. Participating in counseling for your drinking problems can help you beat alcoholism, improve your health and mend relationships damaged by drinking behaviors.

Behavioral Counseling Options

Behavioral treatments allow clients to work with mental health professionals to identify and change drinking problems.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol counseling helps people develop skills to reduce drinking, build a strong support system, set attainable goals and learn to deal with triggers.

Behavioral counseling for alcohol abuse may occur in an individual or group setting. Individual therapy involves one-on-one interactions between a client and a mental health counselor. Group therapy comprises multiple clients who simultaneously receive counseling or support. You can call an alcoholism hotline for help finding counseling options near you.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psychotherapy intended to help people overcome behavioral problems related to alcoholism and other addictions. The treatment approach assists individuals in identifying feelings and situations that result in heavy drinking.

When applied to people with alcoholism, the goal of CBT is to change thoughts and feelings that cause excessive drinking and to help people develop the skills needed to cope with stress, triggers and cravings that can lead to alcohol relapse.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational enhancement therapy is a type of motivational interviewing that involves structured feedback and future planning. Conducted over a short period of time, this therapy approach aims to build and strengthen the desire to alter drinking behaviors.

Individuals identify the benefits and drawbacks of treatment during motivational enhancement therapy. In addition, they craft a plan for changing drinking patterns, building confidence and developing skills to sustain sobriety.

Marital and Family Counseling

Addiction affects more than just the individual. It affects entire families. Marital and family counseling allows spouses and other family members to participate in the treatment process. These individuals play a crucial role in repairing and improving relationships throughout their loved one’s recovery.

Family and marital counseling can help people with alcoholism avoid drinking. Research has shown that individuals who receive strong family support gained through family counseling have a better chance of maintaining abstinence from alcohol than those who receive individual therapy.

Brief Interventions

Brief interventions are small, time-limited counseling sessions. Meetings can be held in individual or small group settings.

During a session, a counselor provides information about a person’s drinking patterns and the potential consequences. The counselor will then assist the individual in setting goals and coming up with ideas for behavioral changes.

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Alcohol Abuse Counseling for Specific Groups

Counseling can cater to specific groups, such as adolescents and individuals convicted of a DUI. Mental health professionals can teach specific groups or demographics how to manage with their alcohol-related problems and how to live healthier lives without alcohol.

Teen Counseling

Counseling aimed toward teens with alcoholism is available for young people in crisis. Adolescents dealing with drinking problems can participate in individual or group counseling to learn about the benefits of achieving sobriety. Counseling also prepares teens to re-enter school after treatment and manage stress.

DUI Counseling

Drinking and driving can lead to fatal car accidents. People charged with a DUI can receive individual and group counseling. In many cases, they’re required to attend counseling. Through DUI counseling, people can learn about the dangers of alcohol use and the serious consequences of drunk driving.

Mutual Support Groups

Support groups provide a safe and nonjudgmental environment for people to receive encouragement while working to overcome their alcohol-related problems. With the help of alcohol abuse support groups, individuals with alcoholism or their loved ones can learn from and interact with others in similar situations.

Alcoholics Anonymous

For more than 80 years, Alcoholics Anonymous has assisted people in recovering from alcoholism. The 12-step program allows people to meet and connect with others facing drinking problems. During meetings, participants can share their experiences with alcohol and provide tips and support to others in recovery.

To maximize its effectiveness, Alcoholics Anonymous should be used in combination with traditional treatment. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology showed that extended participation in Alcoholics Anonymous during treatment was associated with better alcohol-related outcomes in individuals who were previously untreated for alcoholism.


Al-Anon Family Groups, or simply Al-Anon, is a 12-step program for loved ones of individuals experiencing drinking problems. This support group is designed to help families cope with the emotional distress caused by their loved one’s alcoholism.

During an Al-Anon meeting, people share their experiences interacting with family members who have drinking problems. Participants can learn strategies to help their loved ones overcome alcoholism and ways to deal with their own emotional turmoil.


Promoted through Al-Anon, Alateen is a support group for teens who have family members with alcoholism. This support group allows teens to talk about alcoholism within their family, vent their frustrations and share stories of hope.

Through Alateen meetings, adolescents learn to cope with their emotions, improve their self-esteem and live happier lives. Alateen participants have credited the support group with helping reduce their stress and improving their perspective about their loved one’s drinking problems.

Alcohol addiction counseling can save your life. Addiction counselors can help you commit to treatment and safely get sober. Counseling and support group meetings provide valuable assistance to individuals dedicated to maintaining sobriety during recovery.

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