Strategies for Reducing Risk  Strategies for Reducing Risk

Tips for Cutting Back

Using Online Supports

When Cutting Back Isn’t Working

Finding Treatment

More Information on Drinking

What is Moderated or Healthy Drinking?

Who should moderate and abstain?

Potential Consequences of Excessive Drinking

Drinking Across the Lifespan


Sometimes we realize that changing on our own is just too difficult or unrealistic to reach our goals. Below is information about what treatment might entail and a link to finding a specific provider near you.

Alcohol Screening
Types of Treatment

Psychosocial treatments (or counseling)
Aimed at changing drinking behavior through counseling. They are led by health professionals and supported by studies showing they can be beneficial. See below for the kinds of counseling available.

Three medications are currently FDA approved in the United States to help people stop or reduce their drinking and prevent relapse. They are prescribed by a primary care physician or other health professional and may be used alone or in combination with counseling.

Mutual-Support Groups
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other mutual aid programs provide peer support for people quitting or cutting back on their drinking in the community for free. Many treatment programs will also incorporate the concepts into formal treatment. Combined with treatment led by health professionals, mutual-support groups can offer a valuable added layer of support. Due to the anonymous nature of mutual-support groups, it is difficult for researchers to determine their success rates compared with those led by health professionals, but there is some research that shows it is quite effective. There are alternatives to 12-step groups, such as Women in Sobriety and SMART Recovery.

Cognitive–Behavioral Therapy
Can take place one-on-one with a therapist or in small groups. This form of therapy is focused on identifying the feelings and situations (called “cues”) that lead to heavy drinking and managing stress that can lead to relapse. The goal is to change the thought processes that lead to excessive drinking and to develop the skills necessary to cope with everyday situations that might trigger problem drinking.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy
Conducted over a short period of time to build and strengthen motivation to change drinking behavior. The therapy focuses on identifying the pros and cons of seeking treatment, forming a plan for making changes in one’s drinking, building confidence, and developing the skills needed to stick to the plan.

Brief Interventions
Short, one-on-one or small-group counseling sessions that are time limited. The counselor provides information about the individual’s drinking pattern and potential risks. After receiving personalized feedback, the counselor will work with the client to set goals and provide ideas for helping to make a change.

Alcohol Screening
Types of Treatment
Some people find medications are a useful additional tool to help reduce or quit drinking. While these can be prescribed by a primary care physician, not all doctors are familiar with these medications, as they are still relatively new.

Can help people reduce heavy drinking. It is hypothesized to work by reducing craving for alcohol.

Makes it easier to maintain abstinence. It can be a helpful option when quitting is your goal.

Is what is called an aversive agent. When a person drinks alcohol, this medication causes unpleasant symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache and flushing of the skin. Those unpleasant effects can help some people avoid drinking while taking disulfiram.