There are more than 12 million alcoholics in the United States. For some, the word “alcoholic” conjures up images of old men holding liquor bottles while sleeping in various doorways. This is an old fashioned depiction of a serious problem.

There are many different types of alcoholics. Functional alcoholics may work a professional 9-5 job without drinking. They may come home, take care of their kids, and quietly drink themselves into a different mindset. It does not matter if they drink liquor or white wine. People commonly try to distinguish the difference between a problem drinker, a drunk, and an alcoholic. The label matters less than the solution.

There are various ways to assess if you are drinking too much.  Some very concrete examples may include:

  • Do you get up to use the bathroom at night?  This could be a sign that you’re drinking more alcohol than your body can handle.
  • Are your eyes dry when you wake up? Dehydration is a major factor when drinking too much.
  • How is your sleep?  Do you wake up frequently in the middle of the night?
  • Teeth problems. Heavy wine drinkers will often suffer from tooth-enamel erosion. Needing more fillings than most people or stained, yellow teeth are also possible indicators of a problem.
  • Looking forward to drinking can be problematic.  Do you find yourself staring at the clock, waiting for six pm?

For many people in the U.S., the words “Alcohol Treatment” mean one thing: Alcoholics Anonymous. Many treatment centers and rehabs across the country have facilities that only use the 12 step program as a guide for recovery. While AA may work for some, other options include:

The Sinclair Method

According to The Atlantic and several research publications, the Sinclair Method has a 78 percent success rate for those that want to abstain or moderate their drinking.  This is the highest proven success rate in recovery.

This method started with Dr. Sinclair who does not see alcoholism as a disease. The method involves taking a medication called Naltrexone an hour before drinking. Over time, the desire to consume alcohol will fade.  This method may not work if there is already significant damage to the patient’s liver.  

The treatment is controversial since it goes against the abstinence approach that many treatment centers use. Although it is not popularized in America, it is used extensively in Finland and the UK. The drug is far less expensive than inpatient rehabilitation centers.

General practitioners as well as psychiatrists can prescribe Naltrexone. It is often advised to use some sort of support group or therapy during the initial stages of treatment, but is usually not required.

Smart Recovery

Smart Recovery is another method of alcohol treatment that is also provided in the United States. This is a non-profit organization which assists people in seeking abstinence from all addictive behaviors.  The approach is scientifically based and does not require religion or spirituality.

A core part of the Smart Recovery program uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques.  It is often listed as the ‘alternative to AA’.

Like AA, Smart Recovery uses meetings.  Each meeting is led by a volunteer facilitator and held world-wide.  If there is not a meeting in one specific town or area, meetings are also held online.

Some of the benefits from Smart Recovery include:
– Self empowering
– Labels like ‘addict’ or ‘alcoholic’ are not used
– Meetings are not a life-long requirement for sobriety
– Accepts the validity of prescribed addiction medication

Smart Recovery has been around since 1994.  General operations are overseen by a volunteer Board of Directors. Their central office is in Mentor, Ohio.

Women for Sobriety

Women for Sobriety is an organization that encourages sharing experience and hope for other women in similar circumstances. This is a self help program for women who are either alcoholics or drug addicts.  This group is not affiliated with any other recovery program. It believes that underneath addiction, lies stress, emotional deprivation, and loneliness. The goal for their recovery is abstinence.

There are 13 affirmations that represent levels of growth in which members accept as the nature of alcoholism:

  1. I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.
  2. Negative thoughts destroy only myself.
  3. Happiness is a habit I will develop.
  4. Problems bother me only to the degree I permit them to.
  5. I am what I think.
  6. Life can be ordinary, or it can be great.
  7. Love can change the course of my world.
  8. The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth.
  9. The past is gone forever.
  10. All love given returns.
  11. Enthusiasm is my daily exercise.
  12. I am a competent woman and have much to give life.
  13. I am responsible for myself and my actions.

Although Alcoholics Anonymous is generally the type of treatment we hear most about, it’s important not to become discouraged if this isn’t the program for you. Little is known about addiction and with the growing opioid epidemic in America, there is bound to be more research. Until then, these methods are widely accepted as a legitimate practice to freedom from addiction and alcoholism.