Treatment for Alcohol

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What is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD), or alcohol addiction, is a medical condition that includes a range of problems that develop from the inability to control drinking. Often, this can include reduced work performance, changes in mood, disruption of relationships, and health problems.

What it is not:

  • - A sign of weakness
  • - A lack of willpower
  • - Cause for shame

Many people develop problems from alcohol at some point in their lives. Unlike other chronic health conditions, they are often unaware or not offered medical treatment options.

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29.5 million

people ages 12 and older met criteria for alcohol use disorder in the past year.

Less than 10%

of people receive any form of treatment for alcohol use disorder.

Only 2%

of people receive medications to help them recover.

Research has show that approximately one-third of people who receive treatment no longer have symptoms 1 year later and many others are able to significantly reduce their drinking leading to improvements in alcohol-related problems. Unfortunately, despite the availability of safe and effective treatments, less than 10% of people receive any form of treatment and only 2% receive medications to help them recover.

Drinking Levels

Certain patterns of drinking may increase the risk of developing alcohol-related health issues.

Both binge drinking and heavy drinking have been shown to increase the risk of alcohol-related health issues and alcohol addiction.


up to 1 drink per day for women and individuals over age 65; up to 2 drinks per day for men


up to 4-5 drinks in two hours or until BAC is 0.08% or higher


above 3-4 drinks per day or above 7-14 drinks per week based on age and gender

Frequently asked questions

What are the reasons for addiction?

Alcohol exerts a powerful effect on the brain by activating the “reward system”. This may be experienced as an increase in pleasurable feelings or temporary relief of negative feelings when drinking. These repeated experiences over time can create motivation for increased consumption. 

With ongoing alcohol consumption, the brain’s stress system becomes more sensitive and starts to produce unpleasant feelings between episodes of alcohol consumption that may further increase motivation for drinking to relieve the stress of not drinking. 

Finally, alcohol consumption can compromise the brain’s ability to make decisions and regulate impulses, making it difficult to make changes to drinking. 

Without actively addressing these changes in the brain, cravings for alcohol may increase over time further impacting individuals trying to make changes to their drinking. 

What symptoms accompany alcohol use disorder?

Alcohol use disorder is diagnosed by a healthcare provider based on the presence of symptoms listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The symptoms that make up the diagnosis may include problems developing in the following areas: 

- Difficulty controlling drinking 

- Cravings, or strong urges, for alcohol 

- Alcohol impacting ability to complete important responsibilities 

- Getting into potentially dangerous situations because of alcohol use 

- Tolerance to alcohol (need to drink more for the same effect) 

- Development of withdrawal symptoms if making changes to drinking 

Symptoms may vary from person to person and may require different types of treatment for success. 

What are the medical issues with alcohol use disorder?

Alcohol is one of the leading causes of chronic issues and contributes to more than 140,000 deaths in the US each year, making it one of the leading causes of preventable death. 

There is no completely safe level of drinking as alcohol can affect many different organ systems including the liver, pancreas, cardiovascular system, and brain. Alcohol is also linked to many different forms of cancer. 

For many health risks, such as various cancers, there is a link with the amount consumed and any changes in this can make a difference. 

What are the withdrawal symptoms?

Alcohol withdrawal can develop in anyone making a change in their drinking amounts, even if not stopping completely. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and include changes such as increased anxiety, headache, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, shaking, hallucinations, confusion, and seizures. Those experiencing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal after making any change to drinking should seek immediate medical attention. 

Medical treatment

Medical advances in the treatment of alcohol addiction include safe and effective medications that help the brain heal and support making changes with drinking. Naltrexone, acamprosate, topiramate, gabapentin, disulfiram, baclofen, and others are medication options that work by reducing cravings for alcohol, lessening the impact of triggers for drinking (e.g., anxiety, insomnia), lowering the frequency or amount of alcohol consumption, and supporting sobriety. These medications may also increase the success of those who benefit from support groups and therapy to make changes to their drinking.

Making an appointment to speak with an addiction specialist to discuss your individual situation can help determine if a medication can assist with your goals related to alcohol.

How Frontier Recovery works

Empowering you on a path to healthy living


Comprehensive assessment to understand your goals


Personalized medical treatment plan based on shared decision-making


Coaching sessions to develop new skills and support change


Digital tracking to assess progress toward your goals


Regular follow-up to assess treatment response & support long-term success
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