According to the CDC, 6 people die every day from alcohol poisoning. Hundreds of thousands of others die every year as a direct result of alcohol, such as in drunk driving-related accidents, falls, suicides, and homicides.

Whether you are coping with an addiction or suspect that a close friend or family member is, facing the process of rehab and recovery can be intimidating. 

Keep reading to learn more about the timeline of alcoholic recovery stages and what you can expect every step of the way.

What Happens Before Rehab Starts

Before an addict can get started on the road to recovery, there are a few things that need to happen. 

The first thing that has to happen is the addict needs to come to the realization that he or she has a problem. This can come in many forms. Perhaps the physical side effects of addiction, like nausea, insomnia, or restlessness causes the realization. Or the individual loses their job, their family, or their home as a result of their addiction.

An intervention can sometimes be used by friends and family to help a person come to terms with their addiction. But only after that realization happens will a person be ready to enter rehab and start the recovery process. 

Dealing with Detox

The very first stage in the alcohol recovery timeline is the detox process.

Before an alcoholic can begin the process of recovery and start learning new, healthy habits and rebuilding their lives, they need to end the addiction itself. 

As a body begins to wean itself off of an addiction to alcohol, a number of side effects are likely. Depression in recovering addicts is very common, especially in the first few days or weak of sobriety.

In fact, alcohol abuse can make a person more prone to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. That’s because over time alcohol reduces the number of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Luckily the brain can recover over time, making an individual less prone to depression.

During this stage in the process of recovery from alcohol, it’s important that an addict remains in a supportive, sober environment. In most cases, they will need professional support to deal with side effects and avoiding slipping right back into their old habits.

A stay in a rehab clinic can help to keep the addict on track so that they can make it to the other stages of the recovery process.

Therapy and Learning New Behaviors

Once a person has successfully weaned themselves off of their addiction, the stages of sobriety begin.

In the first few months of recovery, the focus is on learning new behaviors and habits to replace unhealthy ones that led to addiction in the first place.

During this stage, therapy can help an individual work through the behaviors and thought processes that led them to addiction in the first place. A therapist can help guide them by talking about how they felt before and what factors might have contributed to their addiction.

Therapy can be conducted in either group sessions or one-on-one with a professional therapist.

Both options offer their own unique advantages.

One-on-one therapy offers more individualized support and treatment. Group therapy can help a recovering addict see that they are not alone in their struggle. Group sessions are also a great way for recovering addicts to form new friendships with others who understand what they are going through.

Rebuilding a Life

An important part of the detox and recovery process is re-learning how to function in normal, healthy ways.

Depending on the length of the addiction, an individual may have long neglected their health, their job, their family, and other responsibilities. Before they are able to go out on their own again, they need to learn how to function away from rehab.

The last thing you want is for rehab to become a crux. When this occurs, once an indvidual leaves rehab, they’ll likely lack the skills they need to be successful in the real world. This may quickly lead to a relapse.

Rebuilding a life after addiction means learning healthy behaviors and developing new hobbies through holistic treatments. This might include meeting with a nutritionist to learn how to eat a healthy diet, making an exercise plan, or even learning new skills to start a new job after rehab is over.

Outpatient Alternatives

While the path from an intervention or an individual realizing that they have a problem to inpatient treatment is the norm, some patients do opt for a different path.

One option is intensive outpatient treatment.

Because the individual is not in a residential setting, the treatment needs to be more intense to help counteract a negative environment or temptations outside of treatment.

The benefit of this type of treatment is that it allows an individual to continue on with their lives. If they already have a job, a family to take care of, or are attending school, residential treatment might not be an option.

This alternative offers individuals the chance to continue with these responsibilities while seeking treatment. They may choose to live at home, or at a sober living facility where there may be fewer temptations to fall off the bandwagon.

A sober living facility can also be used after a residential treatment program to help an individual readjust to life outside of rehab.

Facing the Alcoholic Recovery Stages

Ending an addiction to alcohol and starting the process of rebuilding a life and healthy habits is a different experience for every individual. Treatments that worked well for one person might not be the answer for the next.

But sticking with the alcoholic recovery stages and following a treatment plan through until the end is the best way to finally beat addiction and regain control of your life.

If you or a loved one is ready to break free of an addiction to drugs or alcohol, contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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