In the past alcohol addiction was seen as a moral flaw and if you could not control it then you were seen as criminal or insane. Alcohol treatment programs in those days consists of sentencing to asylums, imprisonment and being prayed over until you became sober.
In the 1050s and early sixties psychedelic medications like LSD were used to help patients kick the habit of drinking. Nowadays the use of hallucinogenic drugs have themselves become illegal. However, today the hallucinogenic called ibogaine is used in some high end clinics to treat alcohol addiction. Ibogaine is a root found in Africa that is used to provoke religious experiences.
Today we understand that addiction is a brain disease that is caused by changes in the brain. Treatment is tailored to the individual. However, almost all alcohol treatment programs begin with detoxification. For some suddenly stopping drinking causes painful withdrawal symptoms and in the past this was seen as a just punishment for someone daring to have the moral flaw of alcoholism. Nowadays there is careful supervision to make sure that addicts do not suffer too much.
Today behavioral and cognitive therapy is used to prevent alcoholics from relapsing. During counseling and in meeting with support groups addicts learn to talk openly about their personal experience with alcohol as well as how to manage their problems without having to take a drink. They are also encouraged to identify these harmful patterns that make them drink and avoid them. People in alcohol treatment programs also know how to manage high risk situations, establish motivation to change and improve their personal relationships. Most importantly they learn how to say no to alcohol.
In the future alcohol treatment programs may be treating their clients according to their genes. Each new addiction gene that is identified by science leads scientists closer to a way of treating alcoholism.