Alcoholism and Addiction is an ongoing field of research with consistently evolving therapies and methodologies of treatment. There are also a wide range of underlying causes of addiction that will have a direct impact on the most effective method of treatment. Essentially, alcohol has an anesthetizing effect, which can be used to self-medicate and treat a wide variety of pain ranging from the physical to the mental to the emotional.

One of the primary goals of almost any type of addiction therapy is to unearth the underlying causes of the addiction in the first place. This can be accomplished in any number of ways. Sometimes, a stay in a rehabilitation facility may be the best course of action, whereas other times outpatient treatment or other forms of therapy are adequate. The question is, what is the right course of treatment for yourself or someone you love? Here are some factors to consider when deciding when to go to rehab for alcohol.


As much as anything else, alcoholism can simply be an ingrained habit of heavy drinking developed over the course of many years. In some cases even decades. If an adult alcoholic is used to getting up and having a drink every morning, they may get up and have a drink every morning out of habit rather than because they genuinely feel like they need one.

The sooner the habits surrounding chronic drinking are addressed, the less likely they are to become life-long ingrained habits. Teens and young adults that are beginning to develop a severe drinking problem can often benefit from time spent in rehab. This takes them out of the environment they are used to and helps them break addictive habits early on, which helps prevent them from becoming life-long habits.


Alcoholism will often run in some families. An alcoholic may also be married to or living with another alcoholic. Many times, addicted loved ones can be the greatest obstacle to an individual seeking treatment. This is often because their relatives and loved ones don’t want to face or admit to their own addiction. Instead, they often prefer to sabotage the efforts of the person seeking help. When an individual comes from a family of addicts or lives with another addict, they can often benefit from rehab as a way to address their own issues away from the influence of their family and loved ones.

3Length of addiction

In some cases, individuals may develop a drinking problem as a result of a specific event such as a divorce, the loss of a job or business or the loss of a loved on. Sometimes, people lack the tools to actually deal with the pain that these events cause, so they choose to simply numb the pain instead. This is why alcoholics cannot simply “stop drinking.” In order for them to stop needing alcohol to numb the pain, they have to deal with the underlying cause of the pain.

When the event that led to drinking heavily is fresh or relatively recent, alcoholism can often be treated through therapy on an outpatient basis. This is because they have not yet had years to develop deeply ingrained habits that also have to be dealt with.

In the case of chronic addiction however, alcoholics have had many years to develop an environment around themselves that actually fosters their addiction. In many cases they have actually “trained” the people around them to accept their addiction. In order for chronic alcoholics to truly get the help they require, it is often necessary to remove them entirely from the environment that fosters their addiction rather than helping overcome it. In this case, rehab is most often the preferred course of treatment.

4Violence and abuse

Violence, abuse and alcoholism all too often go hand-in-hand. Regardless of whether the alcoholic is the abuser or the victim of abuse, it is very important for them to get to a safe place where they can begin to address their addiction. In the case of an abusive alcoholic, this means that they need to be away from those they abuse and in the case of an abused alcoholic, this means away from the person that abuses them. This is particularly important when there are children or minors involved.

Not all abuse is physical either. Mental and emotional abuse are just as damaging and detrimental and need to be addressed the same way.

5Medical reasons

Alcoholics will often have medical conditions that cause them to need professional supervision to help them cleanse their system of alcohol. Some of these may be related to their addiction and sometimes there are other factors such as a heart condition or diabetes that cause them to need medical supervision when overcoming their alcoholism. In this case, rehab may be an absolute must for them.

There are no hard and fast rules for when rehab is necessary to treat alcohol addiction. In many cases it is the person themselves who needs to determine what course of action is best for them. People that willingly participate in their own treatment are the ones that stand the best chance of overcoming their addictions. In many cases, alcoholics may need to try a number of different treatment options before coming to a place of recognizing that they need full-on treatment on a rehabilitation facility. In other cases, rehab is not actually necessary and they can get the help they need through therapy, support groups or other means of outpatient treatment.