Munson Health
Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Back to Document

by Wood D

(Alcohol Dependence; Alcohol Use Disorder)


Risk Factors

These factors increase your chance of developing alcoholism:


Treatment for alcohol abuse or alcoholism is aimed at teaching you how to manage the disease. Most professionals believe that this means giving up alcohol completely and permanently.
The first and most important step is recognizing that a problem exists. Successful treatment depends on your desire to change. Your doctor can help you withdraw from alcohol safely. This could require hospitalization in a detoxification center. Healthcare staff will carefully monitor you for side effects. You may need medicine while you are undergoing detoxification.
Treatments include:


Medicine can help relieve some of the symptoms of withdrawal and help prevent relapse. The doctor may prescribe medicine to reduce cravings for alcohol.
Medicines used to treat alcoholism and to try to prevent drinking include:
  • Naltrexone—Blocks the high that makes you crave alcohol
  • Disulfiram—Makes you very sick if you drink alcohol
  • Acamprosate—Reduces your craving for alcohol

Education and Therapy

Therapy helps you to recognize alcohol's dangers. Education raises awareness of underlying issues and lifestyles that promote drinking. In therapy, you work to improve coping skills and learn other ways of dealing with stress or pain.

Mentoring and Community Help

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) helps many people to stop drinking and stay sober. Members meet regularly and support each other. Your family members may also benefit from attending meetings of Al-Anon. Living with an alcoholic can be a painful, stressful situation.
Relapse is common in people who are recovering from an addiction. Treatment, like taking medicine and working with a therapist, may help reduce your chance of drinking and give you the support that you need if you do have a relapse.
If you are diagnosed with alcohol abuse or alcoholism, follow your doctor's instructions .


Alcoholics Anonymous

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

Moderation Management



Alcoholics Anonymous

Health Canada



Alcohol use disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated July 30, 2012. Accessed August 23, 2012.

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . 4th ed. Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2000.

National epidemiologic survey on alcohol and related conditions. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: . Published October 2006. Accessed August 23, 2012.

Ringold S, Lynm C. Alcohol abuse and alcoholism. JAMA . 2006;295(17):2100.

2/4/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Schinke SP, Fang L, Cole KC. Computer-delivered, parent-involvement intervention to prevent substance use among adolescent girls. Prev Med . 2009;49;429-35.

5/14/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : Vivitrol (naltrexone). US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: . Accessed May 14, 2010.


Revision Information