Alcohol Addiction Counseling

Counseling for alcohol addiction can change perceptions, feelings and behaviors associated with alcohol use. Through therapy, people can also learn to cope with triggers and avoid relapse during recovery.
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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.

Alcohol rehab often incorporates counseling into treatment plans. Counseling aims to help individuals identify drinking problems and take the steps needed to combat triggers and cravings that can lead to relapse.

“You want to work on the various triggers that you have that lead to relapse,” Dr. Kenneth Leonard, director of the Research Institute on Addictions, told “A lot of times counseling has to do with interpersonal relations. It’s often useful to have some kind of interpersonal skills training.”

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.

“The goals of treatment really have to be to kind of reshape [problematic ways of thinking],” Leonard said. “It’s important to get involved with a socially supportive group that supports your sobriety. It’s important to learn coping skills to deal with the fact that alcohol permeates society and that there will be times where you will be in a social situation where people will offer you alcohol.”

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 for substance abuse 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

Alcohol addiction affects more than just the individual. The effects of alcoholism on families can be just as intense. 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 alcohol 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.

Need alcohol addiction help?We have programs designed specifically for you.

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 quitting alcohol. 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.

12-Step & Family 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 alcoholism resources and 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 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.

Medical Disclaimer: aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

Matt Gonzales
Content Writer,
Matt Gonzales is a writer and researcher for He graduated with a degree in journalism from East Carolina University and began his professional writing career in 2011. Matt covers the latest drug trends and shares inspirational stories of people who have overcome addiction. Certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in health literacy, Matt leverages his experience in addiction research to provide hope to those struggling with substance use disorders.
Medical Reviewer
Ashraf Ali
Psychiatrist, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health

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