Early intervention, before a drinking problem becomes alcoholism, can prevent the disease. For young people, the likelihood of alcoholism depends on the influence of parents, peers and other role models. Advertising has an influence, as does age at which using alcohol started. Concerned parents should look for changes in appearance and activities previously enjoyed, difficulties with or changing friends, academic problems, frequent mood changes, and increasingly defensive behavior.


Treatment may involve a brief intervention, individual or group counseling, outpatient or residential treatment programs, support groups, lifestyle changes, and medications. Detoxification must be managed, usually for 2-7 days. Alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening, especially in the elderly and those with underlying health problems. A treatment plan needs to be established, including learning daily living without alcohol, behavior-change techniques, counseling and goal-setting. It is vital to recovery for alcoholics to examine their personal spiritual beliefs. Living arrangements and social situations may need to change. Recovery should include developing healthy habits for eating, sleep, exercise and recreation. Alcoholics Anonymous ia a free support group which is in most communities, in which recovering alcoholics encourage each other’s sobriety and spiritual development. The AA phone number is in the white pages of the phonebook.

Recent Debate and Development

There is much controversy about the trend for health insurance companies covering less time for treatment, which may increase relapse. Research is very active in a number of factors influencing risk, brain chemicals, medications to decrease craving, genetics and many more. Progress is being made.

More Information

Mayo Clinic:
Centers for Disease Control:
American Academy of Family Physicians:

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