What happens at an alcoholic treatment center that can transform a drunk into a healthy, sober person? What is the mechanism for creating change in the life of an alcoholic? How does a treatment center seek to accomplish this?
First of all, realize that alcoholic treatment centers are not all that good at accomplishing these goals. They might specialize in doing so, and they might even have some success stories, but by the numbers, most alcoholics will fail to stay sober for the first year of sobriety. The exact numbers are out there, and there are big variations in the statistics you will find, but by and large, the numbers do not look good. There are pretty much no treatment centers claiming much better than a 20 percent success rate for getting drunks sober for the first full year with no slips. In fact, 20 percent would be a generous estimate if you look at the hard data out there.
There are some variations in how different alcohol treatment centers approach the problem, but most of them are quite similar and use similar techniques. So what you read here is a general average of what most treatment centers are like. There are some discrepancies out there.
Here is how an alcohol rehab center attempts to get a drunk sobered up:
1) They detox the alcoholic in a medical setting. This is important because withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous and even fatal. Seizures are the main threat. Medical supervision is highly recommended.
2) The treatment center will then put the alcoholic into residential treatment for a few weeks. This will generally consist of groups, lectures, therapy, and counseling. They will also generally expose the clients to AA meetings, by either bringing meetings in to the facility or by taking clients out to them on the outside.
3) That’s it. Through a combination of informative lectures, group therapy, and the AA program, treatment centers are hoping that the newly sobered up alcoholic can then draw on enough of these resources to stay sober after they leave rehab. They might use aftercare options such as outpatient, continued counseling, or long term rehab as well.
This is the basic essence of alcohol treatment at an inpatient rehab. There are small variations out there but this is the majority of what you will find. Does it work? It does for some, but most will fail. What are the alternatives? There are not many, and other programs that differ greatly from this do not produce significantly different results.