Alcohol Addiction Counselling

Alcoholism, also known as an alcohol addiction or an alcohol substance use disorder, is a disease which can affect any individual from any background or culture.

When someone is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, or alcohol abuse, then their body will begin to undergo changes that lead to a wide range of effects.

For example, not only is the individual faced with the physical and mental effects of the addiction itself, but they may also begin to develop an alcohol dependence. 

This is when the body begins to rely on the substance (in this case, alcohol) to produce or monitor the levels of vital chemicals in the body.

Alcohol affects essential chemical processes in the brain such as those relating to serotonin.

This is an essential hormone in the body that is associated with mood regulation and feelings of anxiousness.

These are both highly correlated to addiction and the long-term effects that it may have.

If you or someone you know is struggling with high alcohol intake and alcohol dependence, then it is important that help is found as soon as possible.

Every individual struggles with addiction in different ways, meaning that additional support and advice are provided at every stage of recovery through drug and alcohol rehab.

This includes alcohol addiction counselling – one of the most effective and useful tools in the treatment of addiction available in the modern world.

What effect does alcohol have on our mental health?

Woman under a blanket, lounging on the sofa

As mentioned above, alcohol can directly impact areas of the brain, often leading to a variety of mental health issues.

These can be pre-existing conditions, worsened by the presence of addiction, or mental health conditions that are diagnosed alongside addiction. In either case, the treatment of these disorders is essential.

The most common mental health issues that individuals struggle with whilst also struggling from addiction include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.

There are also strong links to extreme behavioural conditions such as anger management issues and violence (1).

Addictive behaviours are also common, leading to an increase in a specific behaviour.

This is often the continued consumption of alcohol but can also lead to additional addictions such as lifestyle addictions e.g., gambling, video games, sex.

The effects of alcohol and associated mental health issues are often debated, as alcohol can lead to the development of mental health issues.

However, the mental health issues that existed previously may also influence the development of an addiction.

Because of this, it is essential that the dual diagnosis approach is taken.

This focuses on all mental health conditions that an individual may be struggling with.

Alcohol addiction counselling is one of the best ways to overcome these issues and work towards greater long-term mental well-being.

At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we offer free advice from a team of non-judgemental professionals, many of whom are in recovery and understand how hard can be to change your relationship with addiction.

Simply reach out to our 24/7, confidential hotline on 0800 111 4108.

Recognising you have a drinking problem

A man and woman talking, wearing warm coats looking over city lights at night

For some individuals, either when detecting addiction in themselves or in someone they know, this diagnosis can be challenging.

This is where alcohol addiction counselling can really help people to pinpoint the origin and/or causes of their addiction.

Addiction is expressed differently in each individual case, and it is unlikely that two individuals will show the exact same symptoms.

However, this makes the diagnosis process significantly more difficult.

Luckily, there are some tools that can be used to detect an alcohol addiction more accurately, using a set number of questions to determine whether or not someone is struggling with an alcohol addiction.

One of the most common of these tools is the CAGE questionnaire (2), named after the areas which it assesses.

These are listed below:

  • Cutting down – have you considered reducing the amount of alcohol you consume?
  • Annoyance by criticism – do others’ comments/questions about your alcohol consumption annoy you?
  • Guilty feelings – do you feel a sense of guilt over the amount of alcohol you consume?
  • Eye openers – do you require alcohol as soon as you wake up in order to overcome a hangover or be able to function ‘normally’?

If individuals answer yes to two or more of the above questions within the CAGE questionnaire, then they are considered to have an alcohol dependence.

Further arrangements can be discussed for alcohol addiction counselling later in your journey.

Signs That You May Require Alcohol Addiction Counselling

Man with his head in his hand, eyes closed, in a gesture of pain

When it comes to an individual and their relationship with alcohol, there are many ways in which someone may present this – something which is explored deeply during alcohol addiction counselling.

The following paragraphs cover the physical and psychological symptoms of an alcohol addiction, showing how it may be detected or spotted in yourself or in someone you know.

As mentioned previously, alcohol addictions are displayed differently across every individual, and no assumptions should be made about someone and their alcohol consumption upon first inspection.

There are a number of reasons why someone may develop an alcohol addiction, and every person should be treated with respect.

It’s important not to make judgements based on stereotypes seen across the media, television and film.

If you are planning to talk to someone about their alcohol usage, ensure that the conversation is carried out respectfully and with an open mind.

At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we offer free advice from a team of non-judgemental professionals, many of whom are in recovery and understand how hard can be to change your relationship with addiction.

Simply reach out to our 24/7, confidential hotline on 0800 111 4108.

1. Physical addiction

Man with beads of sweat on his forehead

In the early stages of an alcohol addiction, those around the individual may begin to notice that they are consuming increased amounts of alcohol.

They may also become shaky, unfocussed, and potentially nauseous when alcohol is not available.

In addition, the individual may also begin to experience pins and needles or numbness in their hands and feet when not drinking.

This can eventually lead to more serious health issues such as the development of ulcers or a constantly upset stomach.

In more serious and long-term cases, the consumption of alcohol can lead to reproductive issues such as erectile dysfunction or menstrual cycle disruptions.

Individuals who consume large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time also risk serious damage to health in the form of an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, weakened immune system, and liver complications.

Alcohol is physically addictive, meaning that the body develops a dependence on alcohol, causing significant risks when withdrawing (3).

This makes alcohol as dangerous as other addictive substances such as heroin and other opioids.

Alcohol addiction counselling is not as focussed on the physical effects of an alcohol addiction.

It can, however, still be beneficial in treating long-term mental health issues that may arise as a result of physical treatment.

2. Psychological addiction

A man looking fraught

Mentally, alcohol addictions can become a huge strain on the individual.

Not only is addiction strongly linked to mental health issues, in terms of both the cause and effects, but they can also continue long into the future, becoming part of the individual’s long-term recovery.

Psychologically, individuals addicted to alcohol may begin to experience serious changes in mood, often leading to or worsening anxiety or depression.

In their personal life, they may begin to neglect social events, leading to increased loneliness and more time alone where they may consume further alcohol.

These mental health effects may also affect any attempts that individuals may have to give up alcohol, but in turn, can make it extremely difficult.

The individual struggling with an addiction to alcohol may begin to stop taking part in activities that they previously enjoyed.

People may also reduce their commitment and effort in work or school – something which can have a massive ripple effect in the long-term.

All of these mental health factors combined may also lead to a lack of care from the individual, including personal hygiene and self-care.

This can lead to further mental and physical effects, all of which are focussed on and treated during alcohol addiction counselling.

At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we offer free advice from a team of non-judgemental professionals, many of whom are in recovery and understand how hard can be to change your relationship with addiction.

Simply reach out to our 24/7, confidential hotline on 0800 111 4108.

How can counselling help with alcoholism?

Women talking

Although both the physical and mental health effects of an alcohol addiction have been outlined, the stress on mental health is undeniable.

During a detox session (as the first stage of rehabilitation), most individuals will overcome the physical effects of an alcohol dependence, though some withdrawal symptoms can last long into the future.

Because of this, mental health is one of the key factors that is addressed during rehab as part of the individual’s rehab journey.

Counselling is one of the most effective forms of rehabilitative treatment, and there are multiple forms of mental health counselling available.

Counselling is generally completed in a one-to-one environment.

This allows for complete focus on the individual and their specific needs, as well as generally being tailored and flexible to the individual’s every requirement.

During alcohol addiction counselling, individuals will learn more about their addiction, its origins, and how they can develop their own coping mechanisms.

These tools will help in dealing with addiction in the long term.

There are many different forms of counselling and addiction therapy. The most common and effective methods are outlined in the following paragraphs.

1. Counselling Sessions

Two women talking one-to-one in therapy

At their core, most alcohol addiction counselling takes form within a counselling session.

This is the most basic form of counselling care, involving the communication between a counsellor or therapist and the individual struggling with an alcohol addiction.

Working one-to-one, the counsellor will encourage the individual to think about and assess their addiction, exploring its effects, triggers, cravings, and its origins.

By exploring these different areas, individuals will have a greater understanding of their addiction and how it may affect them.

From this, people can learn more about how they may begin to manage and deal with their addiction alone.

Therapy can even help in understanding, learning and predicting triggers and cravings, so that the affected person can more effectively work to overcome them.

Alternatively, individuals persuing alcohol addiction counsellingmay opt to take part in group talking therapy.

This is less personalised than one-to-one counselling but allows individuals to learn from and listen to the experiences of other individuals who may also be struggling with addiction.

This is a great way for people to gain additional perspectives about addiction and how it affects everyone differently.

It also gives those in recovery the opportunity to share their own experiences and build on their understanding of addiction as a whole.

Both individual and group talking therapy are available through Rehab 4 Alcoholism or by contacting your local council.

At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we offer free advice from a team of non-judgemental professionals, many of whom are in recovery and understand how hard can be to change your relationship with addiction.

Simply reach out to our 24/7, confidential hotline on 0800 111 4108.

2. Cognitive behavioural therapy alcohol addiction counselling

Men talking one-to-one at a table

This is possibly the most well-known and practised form of alcohol addiction counselling, though it is also suitable for most forms of addiction treatment.

CBT is designed as a one-to-one treatment programme, where the individual works with a designated therapist to develop their own coping mechanisms to continue to develop and put into practice after leaving rehab.

This is similar to basic counselling sessions but is often far more structured and involves working on and practising the different coping mechanisms, allowing feedback for the individual but also for the counsellor.

From this feedback, individuals can then report back on the success of their technique, working with the therapist to identify where it succeeded and where it did not and work towards improving this.

Though CBT is one of the most longstanding forms of treatment, more modern research shows that it is still just as effective for treating addiction.

In addition, individuals who carry spiritual and religious beliefs may also benefit from including this as a part of their treatment.

Evidence has show an increase of effectiveness in individuals who practise their spirituality alongside therapy (4).

3. Holistic therapy alcohol addiction counselling

Woman walking down a nature trail in Adventure Therapy

Holistic therapies incorporate standard alcohol addiction counselling with the addition of different therapeutic activities.

These are designed to provide all the benefits of therapy and other forms of counselling at the same time as the individual gains the benefits from the alternative activity.

The most common holistic treatments include art and music therapy, as well as equine, adventure, yoga, and meditation therapy.

These activities are the most common as they provide the most benefits to the individual.

For example, someone who enjoys riding horses may greatly benefit from an equine therapy session.

This may include a horseback walk around an area with a counsellor, partaking in a standard counselling session but while on horseback.

Alternatively, individuals may take part in art classes specialised in art therapy.

This may allow individuals to express their feelings in a different way, perhaps coming to realisations or progressing through other treatment programmes faster as a result of this creative outlet.

Religious therapies may also be considered here as an effective form of treatment (5).

At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we offer free advice from a team of non-judgemental professionals, many of whom are in recovery and understand how hard can be to change your relationship with addiction.

Simply reach out to our 24/7, confidential hotline on 0800 111 4108.

4. Motivational Interviewing (MI) alcohol addiction counselling

Two women on a sofa smiling and looking at a laptop

Motivational interviewing is similar to CBT in the fact that it is generally one-to-one and includes the creation and development of coping mechanisms and tools aimed to help the individual deal with addiction in the long-term.

Through MI as part of alcohol addiction counselling, individuals will take part in a variety of questions.

These incorporate good listening techniques as well as strong direction and advice exhibited by the counsellor.

Through these methods, individuals will be guided toward questions that highlight their strengths and ability to make good progress in recovery.

This allows for the most natural transition towards positive changes in the individual’s life.

Abstinence from substances and the reconciliation with any individuals or situations in which the individual may have previously found themselves are some of the potential benefits.

MI works best under the following criteria (6):

  • the individual has mixed feelings about their addiction and recovery
  • the individual has low confidence in themselves and their recovery
  • the individual has a low desire for change and is unsure about the consequences of this
  • recovery importance is low for the individual and current negative impacts are unclear to them

5. Dual-diagnosis therapy

Close up of two people in sweaters holding coffee mugs, face to face at a table

At the time of an addiction diagnosis, it is common that individuals may also be diagnosed with an additional mental health issue.

This is known as the dual diagnosis approach.

Though it is still commonly debated as to why this phenomenon occurs, there is a strong link between mental health issues and addiction.

Many people believe that addiction is a result of underlying mental health issues – either previously diagnosed or not – though it may also be the case that addiction is the cause of these mental health issues.

In either case, the best addiction treatment programmes will focus on both or all of these mental health conditions, aiming to treat them within the same treatment programmes and alongside one another.

Through Rehab 4 Alcoholism, all suggestions made through our referral programme will follow this approach.

This means that you can be reassured that all of their mental health conditions will be treated within these programmes.

Individuals seeking help outside of our referral programme should ensure that the dual diagnosis approach is followed, enquiring about the treatment of co-occurring mental health issues as soon as possible.

At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we offer free advice from a team of non-judgemental professionals, many of whom are in recovery and understand how hard can be to change your relationship with addiction.

Simply reach out to our 24/7, confidential hotline on 0800 111 4108.

6. Relapse Prevention Therapy

Before an individual leaves rehabilitation, they are likely to experience some form of relapse prevention planning.

In general, there are several factors that make up this training, preparing the individual for life outside of rehab and continuing their recovery into the long-term.

These factors are listed below:

  • Recovery is not an overnight process – there are no corners that can be cut and no shortcuts. This means that individuals will need to commit fully to this process and not be disheartened when they do not see any change immediately.
  • Recovery is a part of personal development – by being able to take part in relapse prevention therapy, individuals are demonstrating strong self-will and motivation to recover. This is a vital part of rehabilitation and is something to celebrate.
  • Triggers and cravings – these should be identified and included in the plan. In an event where these may be a possibility, individuals should carefully consider their options and may need to prepare before facing these triggers head-on.
  • Emergency contacts – this can be a close friend or family member, a member of the individual’s addiction support network, or an addiction support supervisor. This person can be contacted in an emergency or if the individual requires additional support and/or advice in specific situations.

7. Finding new hobbies

A hiker at the summit standing on a steep rock

After leaving rehab, individuals may find that their time is somewhat empty. This is often the result of stopping the consumption of alcohol.

Though the individual may not have realised it at the time, their addiction may have been eating up large amounts of their time, meaning that without the effects of addiction, the individual may have significantly more time available.

In some cases, this can be quite daunting for individuals but is easily rectified by taking up a new hobby.

By finding an activity or activities to occupy additional time, the individual can replace an old habit with something new and beneficial.

In some cases, individuals may take this time to continue their rehabilitation, through further rehabilitative techniques and courses.

This can also be achieved through addiction recovery activities e.g., continuing art therapy or music therapy from their time in rehab.

How Does Counselling Help in Addiction Recovery?

A woman outdoors looking pensive with her eyes closed

Rehab 4 Alcoholism understands that addiction recovery is not a quick process and may take many years before recovery becomes a part of regular life and long-term treatment.

Because of this, we also understand that alcohol addiction counselling is one of the best ways to support wellbeing.

We help to give people all the tools and techniques that they need to continue working on their self-development and improvement in the long-term.

If necessary, individuals can continue therapy in the long-term, having regular meetings to provide support and advice through the different stages of their care.

This will become a form of coping and continued care throughout the remainder of their recovery time.

Not every type of alcohol addiction counselling is suitable in every individual case.

By finding the right forms of alcohol addiction counselling, and support for each individual, Rehab 4 Alcoholism aims to help every individual.

We offer free advice from a team of non-judgemental professionals, many of whom are in recovery and understand how hard can be to change your relationship with addiction.

Simply reach out to our 24/7, confidential hotline on 0800 111 4108.

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[1] Collins, J.J. and Schlenger, W.E., 1988. Acute and chronic effects of alcohol use on violence. Journal of studies on alcohol, 49(6), pp.516-521.

[2] Bush, B., Shaw, S., Cleary, P., Delbanco, T.L. and Aronson, M.D., 1987. Screening for alcohol abuse using the CAGE questionnaire. The American journal of medicine, 82(2), pp.231-235.

[3] Carlson, R.W., Kumar, N.N., Wong-Mckinstry, E., Ayyagari, S., Puri, N., Jackson, F.K. and Shashikumar, S., 2012. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Critical care clinics, 28(4), pp.549-585.

[4] Hodge, D.R., 2011. Alcohol treatment and cognitive-behavioral therapy: Enhancing effectiveness by incorporating spirituality and religion. Social work, 56(1), pp.21-31.

[5] Priester, P.E., Scherer, J., Steinfeldt, J.A., Jana-Masri, A., Jashinsky, T., Jones, J.E. and Vang, C., 2009. The frequency of prayer, meditation and holistic interventions in addictions treatment: A national survey. Pastoral Psychology, 58(3), pp.315-322.

[6] Miller, W.R. and Rollnick, S., 2012. Motivational interviewing: Helping people change. Guilford press.