Alcohol is the most frequently abused chemical, creating the most wreckage and human strife, and destructive consequences. Because it is a legal, socially acceptable addictive substance, alcohol abuse often extends over longer periods of time in the afflicted person’s life. Cultural and social settings often promote and enable alcohol abuse. Norms and standards of alcohol use vary, and within any culture, subcultures of alcohol abuse can easily be found where the alcoholic compares his use to others as being normal.
As with any other drug, alcohol alters brain function, decreasing a person’s ability to experience pleasure in its absence. The perception of normalcy in the face of negative consequences is commonly referred to as “denial”.
Treatment encourages the alcoholic to develop helpful and trusting relationships while practicing new ideas and behaviors which promote sobriety. Cognitive-behavioral and social practices assist cope with the emotional distress and cravings which are common in new sobriety. Recreational, avocational, social, and spiritual activities are practiced so as to replace alcohol compatible pass-times.