Alcohol Rehab in San Antonio, TX

  Opioids, while deadly, are not the only addictive substance or the worst to abuse. By the annual number of deaths, two legal substances—tobacco and alcohol—finish first.  It isn’t treated the same as other substances for many reasons (including that tobacco doesn’t reduce driving ability). Alcohol does, so alcohol rehab in San Antonio is desperately needed.

Substance abuse in Texas

Drug overdose deaths in the United States increased about 15% between 2020 and 2021, from 93,655 (71,238 due to fentanyl and other synthetic opioids) to 107,622. They also increased in Texas, from 10.8 per 100,000 (3,136) in 2019 to 14.1 (4,1720) in 2020. That’s among the fewest in the 50 states and the District of Columbia—49th—but that it is increasing is concerning. Even more concerning is the number of alcohol-related deaths. 

Alcohol abuse in San Antonio, Texas

The latest statistics for alcohol-related deaths come from 2015 to 2019, before COVID-19, during which the whole U.S. averaged 140,000 yearly. The Texas average was 10,647. That includes all alcohol-connected deaths, of which motor vehicle accidents due to alcohol intoxication account for less than 50%.  Texas, the second-most populous state, had the highest driving deaths due to alcohol and the fifth-highest per capita (37%).  San Antonio, TX, is the second-largest city in Texas at about 1.6 million, making up more than 75% of the population of Bexar County, the fourth largest in the state. According to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s report, in 2020, alcohol was involved in 33% of motor vehicle deaths, more than twice as many as drugs (14%), and higher than in Texas as a whole (25.7%) or the U.S. (27.0%).  DWI rates in San Antonio, which declined at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, also reached pre-pandemic rates—2,167 in the six-months prior—by March 2021.  According to one 2017 study, 17.4% of adults in San Antonio binge drank, up by 12.3% from the previous year. That’s better than at least 25 other Texas cities—and 159th out of 305 cities in the survey—but worse than 14 others.  In 2020, 20% of Bexar County and 20% of Texas engaged in excessive drinking.  

Harmful Effects of Alcohol

The risk of dying in a drunk driving accident is not the only life or health risk caused by excess alcohol consumption. Others include:
  • Harming oneself due to diminished physical or mental capacity
  • Harm due to unsafe or unwanted sex
  • Harm due to passing out on one’s back and aspirating (choking on one’s vomit).
  • Harm due to changes in health caused by alcohol consumption, such as liver damage
  • Harm due to alcohol-related memory loss or mental illness, including substance use disorders
  • Harm due to alcohol interacting with drugs, prescription or recreational
What about the health benefits of low or moderate alcohol consumption? Researchers now say that even when alcohol might improve one health condition, it might have a corresponding health deficit on another. No amount of alcohol may be completely harmless

Support for college students

Even though in Texas, most alcohol-related deaths involve those 35 years old or older, that doesn’t mean college-aged students don’t drink and drive as well as engage in excessive, heavy, or binge drinking.  The brain is especially susceptible to developing alcohol and drug use disorders while it’s still developing, usually until about the age of 25. Most people (74%) who develop an alcohol use disorder start drinking before age 18, but drinking can increase at college. Less than 3% (2.6) started after age 25. Among Texas college students surveyed in 2017:
  • More than half (58%) drank in the previous month. 
  • Almost half (45%) were younger than 21 
  • About one-fifth (18%) admitted to drunk driving
  • More than one-third (35%) admitted to binge drinking, higher than the Texas rate (23%)
  • Almost three-quarters (73%) of fraternity students were drinkers, compared to a little more than half (54%) of those not in a fraternity.
College may be the last best chance to prevent alcohol and drug use from becoming a substance use disorder such as addiction. Here are some programs available to San Antonio college and university students:
  • Texas Education Agency: A list of approved programs and resources for Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention
  • The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA): Freshmen are required to complete the online AlcoholEdu program
  • Texas A&M University-San Antonio: The Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program (DAAPP) notifies students about alcohol and drug treatment programs available to university students, as well as the penalties for violating regulations and not seeking treatment

Alcohol treatment centers in Dallas, TX

While there are differences in programs at drug and alcohol treatment centers in Texas, most follow a similar outline, with variations. 

Intake assessment

All new admissions are interviewed to determine the best treatment strategy. Among the questions are:
  • Has the client completed withdrawal? If the client hasn’t managed to get sober before admission, a medically monitored detoxification or detox is necessary. Cold-turkey withdrawal from alcohol is sometimes fatal.  
  • Is medication-assisted treatment (MAT) necessary? Also known as narcotic replacement therapy, MAT is substituting approved drugs to control cravings or other symptoms of withdrawal or discourage relapse.
  • Is the alcohol use disorder caused or exacerbated by a co-occurring mental health disorder (also known as a dual diagnosis)? If so, the mental health issue must also be treated to make relapse less likely. 

Levels of treatment

Another factor to consider at intake is whether the client needs, wants, and can afford 24/7 inpatient care or if outpatient care is sufficient.  With inpatient care, clients wake up at the rehab center, eat their meals at the rehab center, get therapy at the rehab center, engage in leisure activities in the rehab center, and go to sleep at the rehab center. There are no outside distractions or triggers. All they have to worry about is getting healthy in body and mind.  Some clients don’t need, want, or can afford that much care. They are motivated to stay sober and only need a little help. They also prefer or have to keep going to school or working, seeing friends and family, sleeping in their bed and home, or facing the real world daily.  In outpatient care, the client visits the rehab center or therapist’s office for a few hours a day, either every day (partial hospitalization) or a few days a week (intensive outpatient). 

Types of Treatment

The primary treatment type for most science- or evidence-based drug or alcohol rehabs is behavioral psychotherapy or talk therapy. It is not just talking. The purpose is to identify and change substance use behaviors. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy and behavioral therapy, is designed to identify, understand, and change alcohol and substance use behaviors.  Types of behavioral therapies (some of which work better for certain substances) include:  Other therapies may not qualify as science-based but have some evidence that they help in conjunction with behavioral therapy and MAT. Most of these holistic therapies are based on traditional medicine, though some are based on new experimental technology or complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).  These include: 
  • Acupuncture
    • Auricular or ear acupuncture 
  • Yoga, tai chi, qigong, and other exercises 
  • Massage
  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Art, music, and dance therapy
  • Horse-based therapy 
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation 
  • Neurofeedback  


All clients have to leave the rehab at some point, sometimes before the 90 days that most experts believe is the bare minimum and almost always before the year or more that it takes for the brain to recover physically from the damage of addiction. Even years later, relapse is possible.  It takes more than five attempts to successfully stop substance abuse, although half-stop with two. To minimize those risks, a good rehab designs an aftercare program.  Aftercare involves planning for continued abstinence after rehab and begins during rehab with drug education, learning how addiction works and how to cope without using drugs or alcohol.   Twelve-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous or SMART Recovery are often part of aftercare. These are peer fellowships and groups of people who also have past substance use problems by talking about their experiences and sharing coping tips.  Even if less frequent, continued behavioral therapy is also helpful in bolstering sobriety and dealing with problems as they crop up.  Most of the aftercare is learning to avoid triggers for substance use—people, places, events associated with alcohol or drug use—and to find new friends, hangouts, and activities.  Addiction is a chronic brain disease. The best evidence suggests it cannot be cured, only controlled. Recovery is a lifelong process. A good rehab in San Antonio, Texas, prepares you for that sober living.  



  1. – U.S. Overdose Deaths In 2021 Increased Half as Much as in 2020 – But Are Still Up 15%
  2. – Drug Use by State: 2021’s Problem Areas
  3. – Alcohol and Public Health: Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI)
  4. – 10 Largest Cities in Texas 
  5. – Population of Counties in Texas (2022)
  6. –  Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office 2020 Annual Report
  7. – 15 Cities with the Worst Drinking Problems (2021 Update)
  8. – Drinking Levels Defined
  9. – Alcohol and Substance Abuse March 2021 
  10. – Alcohol Use and Your Health
  11.  – Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol With Medicines
  12. – No amount of alcohol is good for the heart, a new report says, but critics disagree on science
  13.– Alcohol Abuse Statistics
  14. – The TEDS Report: Age of Substance Use Initiation among Treatment Admissions Aged 18 to 30
  15. – 2017 Texas Survey of Substance Use Among College Students   
  16. – Campus Initiatives  
  17. – Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention
  18. – UTSA Alerts: Alcohol/Drugs
  19. –  Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Compliance
  20. – Sunshine Behavioral Health Drug and Alcohol Rehabs
  21. – MAT Medications, Counseling, and Related Conditions 
  22. – Dual Diagnosis  
  23. – Level 2 Services: 2.1: Intensive Outpatient Services & 2.5: Partial Hospitalization
  24. – Psychotherapy  
  25. – Cognitive-behavioral therapy (Alcohol, Marijuana Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Nicotine)
  26. – Dialectical behavior therapy  
  27. – Motivational Enhancement Therapy (Alcohol, Marijuana, Nicotine).
  28. – The Matrix Model (Stimulants) 
  29. – Contingency management: What it is and why psychiatrists should want to use it
  30. – Why You Should Consider Holistic Addiction Treatment 
  31. – Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States
  32. – MAT Medications, Counseling, and Related Conditions 
  33. – Dual Diagnosis  
  34. – Level 2 Services: 2.1: Intensive Outpatient Services & 2.5: Partial Hospitalization
  35. – Psychotherapy  
  36. – Acupuncture: in Depth
  37. – Can NADA Acupuncture Help With Addiction and Trauma?
  38. – Restorative and Therapeutic Benefits of Yoga in Addiction Recovery 
  39. – Tai Chi and Qigong for the Treatment and Prevention of Mental Disorders 
  40. – Massage and Addiction
  41. – Mindfulness meditation in the treatment of substance use disorders and preventing future relapse: neurocognitive mechanisms and clinical implications 
  42. – The Use of Art and Music Therapy in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs 
  43. – More Than Just a Break from Treatment: How Substance Use Disorder Patients Experience the Stable Environment in Horse-Assisted Therapy
  44. – Transcranial magnetic stimulation 
  45. –  Neurofeedback Training for Opiate Addiction: Improvement of Mental Health and Craving
  46. – Substance Abuse Aftercare Treatment – Continuum Of Care
  47. – Texas Rehab Centers & Addiction Treatment

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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