Alcohol rehab

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Free addiction assessment

Page clinically reviewed by Dee Johnson (Mbacp, MNCS), Addiction Therapist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford in August 2022.

What is alcohol addiction?

For many people, enjoying the occasional alcoholic drink can be a harmless pleasure. However, if your drinking is becoming more frequent, this can soon spiral into a serious problem. Alcohol addiction, also known as ‘alcoholism’ or ‘alcohol use disorder’, develops when someone drinks alcohol in an excessive way, leading to their body becoming dependent on alcohol in order to function on a daily basis.

At Priory, we recognise that without expert support, alcohol addiction can cause a range of long-term physical and psychological problems, and can even be fatal. However, it’s important to understand that you don’t have to struggle alone; alcohol addiction is treatable and we can help you every step of the way towards recovery.

When to get alcohol addiction help

There are a number of signs to look out for that may suggest you’re struggling with alcoholism and should seek support.

Some of the most common symptoms of alcohol addiction include:

  • Finding that you’ve built a tolerance to alcohol, meaning that you need to drink more to feel ‘drunk’
  • Drinking heavily on your own, even to the point of passing out
  • Intense cravings for alcohol, to the extent that these affect your mood and concentration levels
  • Missing out on special occasions due to your drinking habits
  • Feeling as though alcohol has taken over your life
  • Lying or being deceptive about your drinking habits
  • Continuing to drink despite the negative effects this has had on your home, work, social life or your mental health

As well as looking out for the signs above, you can also use a screening test to determine whether you might be struggling with an addiction to alcohol. A commonly-used method is the alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT). This consists of a series of questions that help you to identify your level of risk for alcohol dependence.

Our free addiction assessment

We offer a free addiction assessment for you to discuss your challenges with one of our experts, supporting you to start your recovery. Speak to a specialist:

  • Face-to-face
  • Over the phone

We know that taking the first step can be difficult, but we’re here to support - with no pressure or judgement. Help is just a phone call away.

Causes of alcoholism

There are a number of potential causes and risk factors for alcoholism. These include:

Family history and genetics

You're at increased risk of developing alcohol addiction if you have a close family member with an addiction, such as a parent or sibling. Research suggests there are significant genetic factors and hereditary elements of alcohol addiction. It might also be down to environmental influences and the result of witnessing heavy drinking in the home, potentially from a very young age, which may have normalised this behaviour for you. It might also be that these nature and nurture elements both have an impact on the likelihood of you developing an addiction.

Life events

Stressful life events have also been linked to someone developing an alcohol addiction. Examples might include going through a bereavement, losing your job, experiencing a traumatic event or struggling with financial problems. The stress and trauma that surround these types of events may lead you to try to self-medicate with alcohol, which can lead you to develop a harmful addiction. These alcohol statistics also show that 60% of people in alcohol treatment also need mental health treatment for co-occurring conditions.

Experiencing abuse and/or neglect in childhood

Experiencing abuse or neglect, especially if this happened when you were a child, can also increase your risk of developing alcoholism in later life. This may be due to the fact that you weren’t able to develop healthy coping mechanisms as a result of the abuse and/or neglect you suffered, which means you may turn to drink and drugs to help you cope with life.

Social factors

There are a number of social factors that may also contribute to the chances of you becoming an alcoholic. These can include things like your culture, religion, work and your current life stage. For example, if you’ve recently started university, your drinking may have increased due to the ‘culture’ around student drinking, fresher’s week and wanting to make friends.

Peer pressure is another social factor that can play a role. When your partner, friends or work colleagues drink regularly and encourage you to join them, it’s natural for this to influence your own choices about alcohol.

Underage drinking

The age you start drinking can also have an impact on your chances of struggling with addiction. If this happens early in life, or when you’re still underage, it can make it more likely that you’ll develop problems in the future.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the younger the age of drinking onset, the greater the chance of you developing an alcohol use disorder in the future. The NIAAA found that young people who began drinking before the age of 15 were 4 times more likely to develop alcohol addiction than people who started drinking at the legal age.

Why do people become alcoholics?

Ultimately, people become alcoholics because of a process known as ‘positive reinforcement’. Positive reinforcement encourages certain patterns of behaviour to form by offering a perceived ‘reward’ for that behaviour.

In the context of alcoholism, drinking can cause you to experience ‘positive’ outcomes such as feeling confident, relaxed and carefree, which can mean that you want to drink alcohol over and over again to feel the same effects.

Over time, repeated drinking can mean you develop a physical tolerance to alcohol. With a high tolerance, you’ll need to drink even more to feel these effects, and will experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking. This can then feed into a vicious circle because you need to drink to get rid of your withdrawal symptoms, causing the cycle to continue.

Who is most likely to become an alcoholic?

Research also shows that men are more likely than women to become alcoholics. A study reported by the CDC found that in 2019, 7% of men had an alcohol use disorder, compared with 4% of women. In addition, men are also more likely to binge drink than women, and have a higher rate of alcohol-related hospitalisations than women.

In addition, a review by Lancet Psychiatry found that people who are already struggling with a mental health condition, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, may be at greater risk of developing alcohol addiction. This is because these people may use alcohol to self-medicate and bring temporary relief from their psychological symptoms.

My recovery journey - Anne and Jodie

Listen to Anne and Jodie's inspirational recovery story, as Anne overcomes alcoholism with the help of treatment at Priory Hospital Hayes Grove.

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What happens in alcohol rehab?

At Priory, the first step in your alcohol rehabilitation journey is to go through our free alcohol addiction assessment. This takes place with one of our addiction specialists at any one of our addiction rehab centres across the UK. Our free assessment guide offers in-depth information on what can be expected if you seek help and support for an addiction with Priory.


Depending on the severity of your alcohol addiction, you may need to go through our medically assisted detox process when you first come in for treatment. During detox, you’ll be supported to stop drinking and we’ll also help you to manage any unpleasant alcohol withdrawal symptoms you might experience when you no longer have alcohol in your system.

During alcohol detox, you’ll have access to round-the-clock care to make sure you’re comfortable at all times. We can also prescribe medication if needed, to help with your symptoms.


As soon as you’re physically able, you’ll be able to commence with our intensive programme of addiction therapy. Therapy usually takes place as part of a group, although you will also have individual sessions with members of your addiction treatment team.

We use a whole range of tried and tested therapeutic methods to help you with your addiction. These include techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), transactional analysis (TA) and mindfulness. We also offer a wide range of wellbeing activities to help you stay healthy in mind, body and spirit while you’re with us. These can vary depending on the rehab centre you’re receiving treatment at, but can include things like meditation, yoga and other exercise activities such as walking.


We’re committed to your ongoing recovery when you leave treatment, which is why we offer free aftercare to everyone who completes an addiction treatment programme. Aftercare provides you with ongoing therapy and support, as well as access to alumni events, helping you stay connected within our community and continue building on your recovery.

Alcohol addiction treatment

Our highly qualified treatment team have extensive clinical experience in treating alcohol addiction. We can deliver a wide range of established techniques to help you to address your symptoms, and resolve the underlying causes and triggers of alcohol addiction.

We ensure that everyone who seeks support with us is placed at the centre of their rehab journey. This means you'll benefit from a collaborative treatment experience that produces the best outcomes for you.

In addition, all of our alcohol treatment centres offer peaceful, homely and highly compassionate environments. At Priory, we provide you with the ideal setting to address your challenges and get well again.

Remember, you don’t have to struggle with alcohol addiction. Recovery is possible and we can help you get back on track.

Alcohol addiction treatment near me

We have alcohol rehab centres located throughout the country, ensuring that you can access the support you need in a location that's convenient for you. To find your nearest treatment centre, please use the search form below.

Contact us to make an enquiry or for more information

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