Can alcohol addiction be cured?

One of the most common questions asked by those who have an alcohol addiction is whether the condition can be “cured”. This query reflects the hope and desperation of those affected and touches on a broader, more complex medical debate about what “cure” means. The chronic nature of addiction, with its deep physiological and psychological roots, means that treatment success is judged in more nuanced ways than cured or not cured. Recovery from alcoholism is a journey, and while there is no magic pill you can take, with the right alcohol help and support, sobriety is very much achievable.


What is a “cure”?

In the medical world, the term ‘cure’ typically implies a complete and permanent resolution of a disease or condition. It denotes the absence of symptoms and the full restoration of health, often achieved through treatment or intervention. In this context, a cure is often associated with tangible and quantifiable changes in health status, such as eradicating a bacterial infection with antibiotics or successfully removing a malignant tumour. These are conditions where treatment can definitively halt the progression of the disease and eliminate its cause.

Why do addiction experts avoid the word “cure”?

In contrast, when it comes to alcohol addiction, the concept of a cure is not so straightforward. Addiction is often described as a chronic, relapsing illness as it can alter behaviour patterns and brain function, particularly in areas related to reward, motivation and decision-making. These changes can persist long after you stop drinking, even years or decades later, making relapse an ever-present risk.

Another feature of many chronic illnesses is that they affect multiple aspects of your health and overall quality of life. Alcohol addiction is no different, impacting physical health, mental well-being and social functioning and taking its toll not just on the individual but everybody around them.

This chronic nature of addiction means that it involves continuous efforts to maintain sobriety, which is why we often talk of a recovery “journey” rather than a one-stop cure or solution. There is no pill you can take, no magic spell to clear your system and no surgery that will render you impervious to the effects of alcohol. Sobriety is a lifelong challenge with obstacles, temptations and triggers requiring continued motivation and dedication to change.

Is addiction a lifelong condition?

This question is a central point of debate in addiction treatment and recovery. Most experts view alcohol addiction as much like diabetes or hypertension, believing that, while the condition can be managed effectively, the predisposition towards addiction may not be entirely “cured.”

However, the path of addiction recovery is also highly individual, and some people find achieving sobriety easier than others. Factors such as the severity of addiction, individual health, the presence of co-occurring disorders and personal life circumstances play a significant role in determining how much ongoing professional help with alcohol relapse prevention is required.

What does alcohol addiction treatment involve?

Not unsurprisingly, the complexities of alcohol addiction mean that treatment requires a multifaceted approach. This varies between treatment centres and recovery programmes, depending mainly on available resources.

At UKAT, for example, we provide inpatient alcohol detox and rehab to give our clients some space from their everyday stresses and focus on their treatment. On the other hand, NHS alcohol rehab involves outpatient treatment to provide alcohol help to as many people as possible within NHS budget restrictions.

While both have their benefits, inpatient alcohol rehab is generally considered to be the most effective. It involves various stages and considerations which provide a holistic path to recovery. These include:

Alcohol detox

The first step in treating alcohol addiction is typically alcohol detox. This process involves safely removing alcohol from the body and managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which can range from mild to severe. Medical professionals should ideally supervise alcohol detox, as some withdrawal symptoms can be very unpleasant and potentially even life-threatening.

Therapy and counselling

While alcohol detox addresses physical dependency, psychological therapy plays a critical role in unpicking the other threads of addiction. At UKAT’s Primrose Lodge, this involves a range of different therapies and alternative wellness approaches to help people understand the root causes of their addiction, develop coping strategies and repair relationships damaged by alcohol abuse. These include:

  • One-to-one therapy: A personalised form of therapy where you will work directly with a therapist, allowing for a focused and in-depth exploration of personal issues, addiction patterns and coping strategies.
  • Group therapy: A therapeutic setting where those in treatment can share and discuss experiences, fostering a sense of community, mutual understanding and peer support.
  • Evidence-based therapies: These include dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), which focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviours, improving emotional responses and developing new coping mechanisms.
  • Family therapy: Family therapy involves loved ones in the treatment process, addressing the impact of alcohol addiction on family dynamics and improving communication and relationships within the family unit.
  • Meditation and mindfulness practices: These practices aim to cultivate a state of awareness and presence, helping you to manage stress and develop a deeper understanding of your thoughts and emotions.

Through this varied approach, we aim to not only treat the addiction but also to equip our clients with the life-changing skills and strategies needed for long-term recovery.


Certain medications may also be used, particularly during the alcohol detox stage, to help reduce cravings and manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Aftercare and relapse prevention

Continuing care and support after the initial treatment phase are crucial for long-term recovery. That is why Primrose Lodge offers all our clients free weekly group therapies for the first year after they leave alcohol rehab. We also invite all to join our alumni network to stay connected and attend regular events and workshops.


Defining success in addiction treatment

As there is no “cure” with addiction treatment, success in recovery from alcohol addiction is not usually measured by a complete absence of the desire to drink. Instead, successful alcohol recovery involves a complete rebuilding and reshaping of your life. It encompasses improved physical and mental health, mending relationships, and making positive, lasting lifestyle changes.

Many people measure their recovery success with milestones. For example, the first week, month and year without alcohol are all important achievements to be celebrated with each providing renewed energy and motivation for the next. There are also certain obstacles to be overcome which can be signs of success. These can include reconciling with a family member who had become estranged, achieving a career goal which was being blocked by addiction or simply attending your first party without drinking. All of these are small wins on the road to the victory of long-term recovery.

Final thoughts

While there may not be a “cure” for alcohol addiction in the traditional sense, there is a clear and well-trodden path to recovery. This path, paved by a combination of medical intervention, therapeutic insights and ongoing support, offers a beacon of hope to both those struggling with alcoholism and their loved ones. For those looking for a quick fix, the truth is that for most people, it is a lifelong journey that requires a firm and lasting commitment to maintaining sobriety. The good news is that for anyone ready to make that commitment, success in alcohol recovery can be seen in the day-to-day victories, the rekindled relationships, the regained health and the newfound joy in life.

If you are looking for alcohol advice or treatment, contact UKAT today. We can help you get started on the journey to recovery and a brighter future.

close help
Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 9263