Alcohol Rehab Definition

Alcohol rehab is the process of treatment and recovery from drinking problems.

It is a treatment process/protocol used when a person who has used alcohol excessively or abused alcohol discontinues their use with the goal of remaining permanently abstinent. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a drinking problem as:


  • More than 1 drink per day.
  • More than 7 drinks per week
  • More than 3 drinks on any single day.


  • More than 2 drinks per day.
  • More than 14 drinks per week.
  • More than 4 drinks on any single day.

The treatment process usually includes detoxification, therapy, medications and maintenance of sobriety.

What happens during alcohol rehabilitation?

  1. First, assessment – Upon entering alcohol rehabilitation, medical staff will screen you to assess your personal situation and create a program that is unique to you. This will likely include a physical exam, a urinalysis drug test, a psychological screening and an assessment of personal circumstances. The aim is to understand the extent of alcohol abuse and to create a program that will allow you to succeed.
  2. Then, alcohol detox if necessary – Alcohol withdrawal generally begins 3-5 hours after the last drink, but may not require anything more than medical supervision. During the detox period of alcohol rehabilitation, you will be monitored by medical staff 24-7 to make sure that the withdrawal is not complicated or dangerous. In extreme cases of alcohol withdrawal, medication may be necessary to prevent or treat seizures or DTs (delirium tremens).
  3. The meat of the program (individual counseling/therapy and group treatments) – This is one of the most important phases of rehabilitation, as it begins to give you a base for future sobriety. During this phase, you work with an alcohol counselor to address your current mental and emotional condition and understand where it’s coming from. Then, you can start to make behavioral and attitudinal changes to remain sober, prevent relapse, and start living a happy life. If you are dedicated – the chances for your alcohol rehab program to work are increases and you have made significant steps towards becoming sober long-term.
  4. Possible prescription medications – Currently, pharmacotherapy for alcohol dependence is an emerging and valuable tool for treatment. Clients will be assessed on an individual basis and proven, effective medical and social modalities will be implemented. Medications work best when combined with psychological and social behavioral treatments.
  5. Continuing alcoholism education – Education about alcohol abuse is important during alcohol rehabilitation, as it aims to engage your rational mind. Alcoholism education helps you break down the compulsion to drink, understand the origin of cravings, and to avoid triggers in the future.
  6. Finally, supportive social services – During this final step of alcohol recovery, the staff help empower a patient by connecting them with services outside the treatment facility to maintain abstinence from alcohol and begin to create a network of supportive people to influence in the patients’ life.