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Traditional treatment for alcohol use disorder includes stopping drinking. People accomplish this by quitting “cold turkey” or by gradually cutting back on drinks. Doctors can also prescribe medications to reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

People who are long-term heavy drinkers require professional medical detoxification or detox programs. This is because withdrawal symptoms could cause seizures and hallucinations. Withdrawals can also affect brain functioning and lead to death.

People trying to overcome alcohol use disorder may choose alternative and traditional treatments to boost their chances of success. Here are some of the choices.

Alcohol addiction or alcohol use disorder is a condition that occurs when a person has a dependency on alcohol. This dependency impacts their life and relationships. Alcohol use disorder can lead to liver damage and traumatic accidents.

Some symptoms of alcohol addiction can include:

  • intense cravings for alcohol
  • withdrawal symptoms when you stop using alcohol
  • a physical dependence on alcohol

Alternative treatment options for alcohol addiction

Keep in mind

Alcohol addiction is an ongoing journey. You might find it helpful to always talked with a doctor or a licensed professional about treatment first. Use holistic or alternative alcohol treatments only as an additive to help treat certain symptoms because these treatment options are not a cure-all.

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Alcohol dependency is a disease, and a part of the decision to quit drinking may include changing certain drinking behaviors. Drinking can serve as a coping mechanism and source of stress relief for some people. Some people may choose meditation as a means to help cope with certain stressors, however, this is not likely a cure-all to alcohol dependency.

Meditation involves taking a few moments to maintain focus. You may choose to chant or repeat a positive thought in your mind. For example, you could tell yourself: “I will commit to living a healthier lifestyle.” Another practice involves picturing yourself overcoming alcohol addiction. You can imagine how you will feel when you successfully quit.

Light therapy

One of the side effects of alcohol withdrawal is poor-quality sleep. People living with alcohol use disorder are at more significant risks for sleep disorders, such as insomnia.

Bright-light therapy, also known as phototherapy, involves exposure to bright, artificial light during typical waking hours. Light therapy is a common treatment for seasonal affective disorder. The potential benefits are twofold for people who have alcohol addiction. The light can reduce depression and promote a more natural sleep cycle.

Boston University researchers studied the benefits of bright-light therapy and a medication called naltrexone in helping people overcome alcohol use disorder. The results showed this regimen was just as effective as intensive substance use treatment programs.

Nutritional counseling

Alcohol addiction affects your nutritional status. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly all people with alcohol addiction are malnourished in some way. Doctors use nutritional therapy to help you feel better. When you make nutrient-dense food choices, you have more energy. This can help you resist temptations to drink. A dietitian can help you identify the best foods for you.

Rehabilitation and treatment centers

Rehabilitation centers are a common step to take when treating alcohol addiction. Rehabilitation centers and treatment centers typically offer two types of treatment options — outpatient and inpatient.

Inpatient treatment options involve a patient living in a treatment center for a certain period of time and participating in a program to help with symptoms of withdrawal and emotional hardships that come with treating addiction. Outpatient treatments allow you to reap those same benefits while living at home.

Support groups

Support groups are helpful with alcohol addiction by allowing you to connect with people facing similar challenges and allowing you to be surrounded by people who will keep you accountable during your treatment process.

Some notable options include 12-step program groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). While 12-step groups aren’t the answer for everyone, other support groups such as SMART Recovery and Sober Recovery include similar benefits.


Therapy can help you discover thoughts, behaviors, patterns, and feelings that lead to the root cause of your alcohol addiction.

You can also begin to learn new skills to manage your addiction and create healthier patterns and behaviors.

If you’ve recently completed a rehabilitation program, therapy can be beneficial because it can teach you skills to help avoid recurrence of use.

Other treatment options

There are several other ways to treat alcohol use disorder, including:

  • quitting “cold turkey”
  • gradually cutting back on drinks
  • engaging in professional medical detoxification or detox programs
  • yoga and accupuncture (though more research is needed for these methods to be proven effective)

No matter what method of treating alcohol use disorder you choose, various alternative treatments can make the road to sobriety easier.

It’s important to remember that alcohol addiction is a lifelong journey, and you may have moments of temptation and recurrence of use, but this is common.

Be sure to check with your doctor about which treatment options are best for you.