Addiction Treatment & Addiction Therapy Options

The Different Challenges of Quitting Alcohol Versus Drugs

The Different Challenges of Quitting Alcohol Versus Drugs

When it comes to addiction to drugs or alcohol, most professionals state that the conditions share far more similarities than differences. For that reason, the treatment and recovery paths bend not to the drug in question, but more to the factors that surround the addiction. In other words, both drug and alcohol addicts become preoccupied with drugs, continue using in spite of adverse consequences, impair their self-control and end up distorting their senses of reality. However, because alcohol is such a frequently consumed substance, it has become a social culture of its own. For that reason, the treatment methods may be the same for drug and alcohol addicts, but the recovery aspects may differ greatly.

These differences in recovery have changed society’s views and attitudes regarding alcohol abuse and alcoholism. For instance, people are less concerned about signs and symptoms of alcoholism than they are about drug addiction, and far less stigma is attached to the abuse of alcohol than drugs. Many people who are misinformed about alcoholism believe that it is quite different from drug addiction, that alcoholism is more of a personal struggle and that drug addiction is both criminal and horrific. However, grouping these two addictions differently hurts both society and the field of addiction. Addicts of all substances should understand that one addiction type is no better or worse than another, and alcoholism is just as dangerous as drug addiction. That being said, different drugs affect users in different ways, which may pose specific challenges to recovery[1].

Rehab for Alcohol Addiction Versus Drug Addiction

One of the few differences between treating alcoholism versus drug addiction is what occurs during detox. Of course, detox is one of the most well-known processes of addiction treatment, as it is when the body gets rid of all drugs. This process can create painful withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, involuntary shaking, paranoia and etc. However, the symptoms, risks and methods of treatment vary in detox depending upon the drug of choice, the user’s health, the severity of the addiction and etc.. In that light, the major difference between detox from alcohol and drugs is the medical options that can assist the process. People who detox from drugs have several medication options to ease detox—these medications are substitutes for the addictive substance, because they mimic the chemical activity in the brain. As they break drug use, they allow the body to taper from the effects of the drug without creating a high. In short, drug users can get away from their cravings and withdrawal symptoms as they detox safely with medication. On the other hand, alcohol detox only has a couple of medications that ease withdrawal symptoms, and these medications work differently than drug substitutes.

Another difference between detox from alcohol and drugs is the possibility of delirium tremens during alcohol withdrawal. Delirium tremens is a type of hallucination that can involve convulsions, general confusion and life-threatening issues. Both alcohol and drug detox are more difficult and more intense if the drug use lasted a long time and occurred in high doses, but most people who have detoxed from alcohol describe the withdrawal experience as an easier process; in fact, many of these people did not need medical supervision or treatment during detox, and they reported minor symptoms. In spite of this fact, recovering addicts should always seek medical attention to assist them through detox, because there is no way to determine whether or not the process will cause medical complications. Also, it becomes much easier to quit detox in the middle of the process when people lack support[2].

Treatment for alcohol and drug addictions involve unique aspects, especially in continued treatment. When someone goes through drug rehab, she will receive the tools, skills and education she needs to set up a long life in recovery. The same goes for alcohol treatment, but far more social and lifestyle triggers exist for relapsing into alcohol than into drugs. Alcohol is cultural: it is at restaurants, parties, sporting events and the grocery store. To put it differently, most people can avoid cocaine on a daily basis, but recovering alcoholics may see alcohol every day. In that light, recovering alcoholics may find it extremely helpful to continue with support groups while they avoid relapse, as they will be tested regularly every day[3].

Addiction Treatment for Your Recovery Needs

You must choose an addiction treatment program that fits your unique needs. Addiction treatment should be personal, so, when you search for treatment for yourself or a loved one, make sure you know your options. Avoid treatment if its only benefit is convenience or cost, and discuss the treatment programs and services that will best suit your needs.

For help finding the addiction treatment that is right for you, call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now. Our admissions coordinators can connect you with credible guidance and information whenever you need it; they will offer their assistance, answer your questions and help you find the right treatment for your needs. Our staff can even answer questions about cost and insurance coverage, alternative treatment methods, interventions and everything in-between. To begin recovery today, pick up the phone now and make the call.


[1] McGuiness, Kristen. (2011, September 9). Alcoholism vs. Addiction. The Fix: Addiction Recovery Straight Up. Retrieved from

[2] (2015). Alcohol Rehab vs. Drug Rehab. Elements Behavioral Health: The Recovery Ranch. Retrieved from

[3] Foundations Recovery Network, (2015). Aftercare for Drug and Alcohol Rehab. Dual Retrieved from