Skip to main content

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment Overview

Find the right care and learn about different treatments.
Reviewed by Buoy's medical team
Learn how we choose treatments

Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • Discuss your drinking habits with people you trust to help you identify problematic drinking patterns.
  • Check online for a validated screening test for alcohol use disorder like AUDIT-C.

When you may need a provider

  • You screen positive for alcohol use disorder.
  • You or people in your life are concerned that your drinking pattern is problematic.
  • You feel in-person support and treatment may help you.
See care providers

Emergency Care

Arrow Icon.

Go to the ER if you have any of these symptoms of a more serious condition:

  • Alcohol withdrawal, including visual hallucinations, seizures, severe confusion with agitation, racing heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, fever, and excessive sweating.
  • If you over consume alcohol to the point of having slurred speech, confusion, loss of consciousness, memory impairment, or difficulty walking, you are at risk for acute alcohol intoxication and should go to the ER.

The suppliers listed follow Buoy’s clinical guidelines, but listing the suppliers does not constitute a referral or recommendation by Buoy. When you click on the link and/or engage with these services Buoy will be compensated.

Stethoscope Inside Circle.


All treatments for alcohol use disorder
Info Icon.
Read more about alcohol use disorder care options

When to see a healthcare provider

Alcohol use disorder is often treated with a combination of counseling, group support programs, and sometimes medication prescribed by a doctor.

See a healthcare provider if you or people you are close to think you may have problematic drinking habits or if you have a positive result on an alcohol use disorder online screening test. A doctor may refer you to an addiction medicine specialist, who can help you figure out a safe and effective way to treat your problematic drinking.

Problematic alcohol use can also lead to a wide range of medical problems. Consider seeing a  primary care doctor to be evaluated for medical problems related to alcohol use.

There are many types of support for people with alcohol use disorder including mutual support groups (such as Alcoholics Anonymous), therapists, residential treatment centers, primary care doctors, psychiatrists, and addiction medicine specialists.

Getting diagnosed

You can take a validated screening test for alcohol use disorder such as the CAGE questions, AUDIT or AUDIT-C. These screening tests are available online and consist of answering questions on a form about your drinking habit. You can bring your results to your healthcare provider, who can help determine if you have alcohol use disorder and how severe it is.

If your doctor is concerned about the physical symptoms related to your alcohol use, they may order blood tests to check for related disorders.

What to expect from your visit

Your doctor will discuss your drinking patterns, your family history, and any medical conditions you have, including mental health disorders.

They will work with you to develop a treatment plan. Treatment for alcohol use disorder often includes different forms of counseling, group support such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and medications.

Your doctor will also discuss withdrawal symptoms and how to prevent them. Mild symptoms typically go away within the first 1–2 days after your last drink. But if you have been drinking heavily on a regular basis, symptoms may be more intense and potentially serious.

It’s often helpful to see a therapist. Therapy can help you address underlying psychological issues that relate to your alcohol use. It also offers strategies for handling any cravings, difficult situations, and issues with people you are close to. Couples or family therapy can also help with your relationships if your drinking patterns are harmful for your loved ones.

After you’ve kept to your treatment goals for at least 12 months, ongoing maintenance therapy with medications or counseling or both can be helpful to prevent relapse.

There are several options for medications. 

  • Most medications for alcohol use disorder reduce cravings for alcohol, making it easier to abstain from it.
  • Some medications can be deterrents to drinking by causing nausea, vomiting, or other uncomfortable side effects when taken with alcohol.
  • Some medications reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms or treat withdrawal symptoms.

Prescription alcohol use disorder medications

  • Naltrexone (Revia)
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Acamprosate (Campral)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)
  • Naltrexone (intramuscular injection, Vivitrol)

Types of providers

  • A primary care provider can help diagnose alcohol use disorder and treat mild to moderate symptoms with medications.
  • A therapist can be a psychologist, licensed counselor, or a social worker. They can help diagnose you and provide therapy.
  • A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that can help with diagnosis, offer therapy, and prescribe medications to reduce alcohol consumption and reduce cravings for alcohol. Psychiatrists can also help with other mental health disorders like depression or bipolar disorder.
  • An addiction medicine specialist is a medical doctor trained in substance use disorders. They can offer some types of therapy and prescribe medications to reduce alcohol consumption. They can be especially helpful if you are struggling with other substances besides alcohol.
Showing results for
Meet Buoy's physicians and clinicians
Every treatment shown on this site is evaluated by our medical team and must pass Buoy's clinical review.
Learn how we choose treatments
FAQ Icon.


Frequently asked questions