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Steps Involved in Recovering from Alcoholism
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Steps Involved in Recovering from Alcoholism: From Detox to Long-Term Sobriety

June 28, 2024
8 min read
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A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 28, 2024
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 28, 2024
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
June 28, 2024
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Reframe Content Team
June 28, 2024
8 min read

Recovering from alcoholism is a multifaceted journey that involves several stages, each critical to achieving long-term sobriety. This article will break down the various steps involved in recovering from alcoholism, highlighting the journey from detox to long-term sobriety.

Understanding Alcoholism

Steps Involved in Recovering from Alcoholism

Alcoholism, or Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), is a chronic disease characterized by an inability to stop or control alcohol use despite adverse social, occupational, or health consequences. It often requires a comprehensive approach to treatment that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the disorder.

Stage 1: Acknowledgement and Seeking Help

The first step in recovering from alcoholism is acknowledging the problem. This can be a challenging and emotional realization for many. Seeking help often involves reaching out to healthcare professionals, support groups, or rehab centers. The support of family and friends can also play a crucial role during this initial stage.

Stage 2: Detoxification

Detoxification, or detox, is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of alcohol. It is often the first step after acknowledging the problem and seeking help. Detox can be a difficult process, as the body experiences withdrawal symptoms once alcohol is no longer present. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Due to the potential severity of withdrawal symptoms, detox should be conducted under medical supervision. In some cases, medications may be used to manage symptoms and ensure safety.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments provides a detailed look at what to expect during the withdrawal process, helping individuals prepare for this challenging phase.

Stage 3: Rehabilitation

Once detox is complete, the next step is rehabilitation. Rehab can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on the severity of the addiction and the individual's circumstances. Rehabilitation focuses on addressing the underlying causes of alcoholism and developing coping mechanisms to prevent relapse. Key components of rehab include:

  • Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is commonly used to help individuals understand and change the thought patterns that contribute to their drinking.
  • Counseling: Both individual and group counseling sessions provide support and allow individuals to share their experiences and learn from others.
  • Education: Learning about the effects of alcohol on the body and mind can help individuals understand the importance of sobriety.

Stage 4: Building a Support System

A strong support system is crucial for maintaining sobriety. This can include:

  • Support Groups: Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) provide a community of individuals who are also in recovery. These groups offer a safe space to share experiences and provide mutual support.
  • Family and Friends: Loved ones can offer emotional support and help individuals stay accountable.
  • Therapists and Counselors: Ongoing therapy and counseling can help individuals navigate the challenges of recovery and address any underlying mental health issues.

The article How To Help an Alcoholic Who Doesn’t Want Help explores the importance of a supportive environment and strategies to assist a loved one on the path to recovery.

Stage 5: Developing Healthy Habits

Building new, healthy habits is essential for long-term sobriety. This can include:

  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity can improve mood and reduce stress, which can help prevent relapse.
  • Healthy Eating: Proper nutrition supports overall health and can help the body recover from the effects of alcohol.
  • Hobbies and Interests: Engaging in new activities can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Stage 6: Long-Term Maintenance

Maintaining sobriety is an ongoing process. It requires vigilance and a commitment to the strategies and habits developed during rehabilitation. This stage often involves:

  • Continuing Therapy: Regular therapy sessions can help individuals stay on track and address any challenges that arise.
  • Attending Support Group Meetings: Ongoing participation in support groups can provide continued encouragement and accountability.
  • Monitoring Mental Health: Many individuals with AUD also struggle with mental health issues. It's important to continue addressing these issues to maintain overall well-being.

Stage 7: Relapse Prevention

Relapse is a common part of the recovery process, but it doesn't mean failure. Developing a relapse prevention plan can help individuals recognize and address triggers before they lead to a return to drinking. This plan might include:

  • Identifying Triggers: Understanding what situations, emotions, or people might lead to a craving for alcohol.
  • Developing Coping Strategies: Having specific strategies in place to deal with cravings and stress.
  • Seeking Immediate Help: Knowing when and how to seek help if a relapse occurs.


Recovering from alcoholism is a complex and ongoing journey. It involves multiple stages, from detox and rehabilitation to building a support system and developing healthy habits. Each stage is crucial for achieving and maintaining long-term sobriety. By understanding the steps involved and seeking the necessary support, individuals can successfully navigate the path to recovery and lead a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Reframe Your Understanding

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today! 

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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