Alcohol Rehab in Houston, TX

  Illegal drugs get most of the attention when ranking the most deadly substances. Opioids (heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl) often get ranked first, followed by stimulants (methamphetamine, cocaine). Alcohol, a legal substance for those ages 21 and older, has an even higher death toll. 

Substance abuse in Texas

Deaths due to drug overdoses in the United States increased to more than 107,622 in 2021, an almost 15% rise from 93,655 in 2020. More than two-thirds (71,238) were due to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.  In Texas, the drug overdose rate was 14.1 per 100,000 in 2020 (up from 10.8 in 2019) or 4,172 total (3,136 in 2019). Harris County’s deaths increased from 840 to 1,039 between October 2020 and September 2021.   Among the 50 states (plus D.C.), Texas ranked pretty low for substance abuse in general in 2019, including: 
  • 49th for adult drug users and overdose deaths per capita
  • 48th for adults with unmet drug treatment needs
  • 37th overall
However, it also ranked second for the number of substance abuse treatment facilities per 100,000 drug users.  That’s nothing compared to alcohol, however. 

Alcohol abuse in Houston, Texas

From 2015 to 2019, before COVID-19, the number of alcohol-attributable deaths in the U.S. averaged 140,000 annually.  In Texas, the number was 10,647. Less than half were due to drunk driving, though Texas had the highest alcohol-related traffic deaths and the fifth-highest rate (37%) among the states.  In Harris County (almost half of whose population is in Houston), the percentage of driving deaths involving alcohol was 32.9%, higher than in Texas (25.7%) and the U.S. (27.0%).  Binge drinking—more than four or five standard drinks in two hours—is also a problem in Harris County. The 2019 binge drinking rate in Harris County is 22.6%, higher than in Texas (17.4%) or the U.S. (16.8%). 

Harmful Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol abuse can be harmful in other ways, too, including by causing or exacerbating:
  • Injuries from falls, burns, drowning. 
  • Diminished impulse control, leaving one vulnerable to rape, assault, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancy, loss of wanted pregnancy, and causing death (yours or someone else’s)
  • Choking to death on one’s vomit.
  • Health conditions include high blood pressure, stroke, heart or liver disease, cancer, immunodeficiency, or dementia.
  • Inability to think clearly or retain information. 
  • Mental health disorders co-occurring with alcohol use disorders, such as depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma.
Even a harmless amount of alcohol—and some research suggests no amount of alcohol is entirely harmless—can have dangerous or deadly consequences when combined with another substance. These are called harmful interactions, and they can be fatal. 

Support for college students

Just because students in elementary school, high school, and the first few years of college are not legally allowed to drink doesn’t mean they don’t or won’t drink. Alcohol (and drug) abuse prevention should start as young as possible. Seventy-four percent of people who seek rehab before age 30 started their alcohol or drug use before age 18, some before age 11.  Parents may fear talking about it will make students more likely to start, but that’s short-sighted. Alcohol is almost everywhere. Forewarned is forearmed.  The Houston Independent School District (HISD), which ranges from preschool to high school, and is the largest in Texas, provides a list of substance abuse prevention community resources While most alcohol-related deaths in Texas involve those at least 35 years old, college-aged and younger students also engage in excessive, heavy, or binge drinking.  In a 2017 survey of past-month drinking behavior by Texas college students: 
  • 58% self-reported drinking during the past month. 
  • 45% were underage
  • 18% drove drunk in the previous month
  • 35% binge drink compared to 23% of all Texans
  • 73% of fraternity members drink, compared to 54% of non-fraternity members.
  • 56% thought of themselves as light drinkers compared to 1% who thought they were problem drinkers. 
  • 17% didn’t drink at all.
Substance abuse is most dangerous before age 25 for two reasons:
  • Because the brain is still developing until age 25 and substance use—alcohol or drug use and abuse—can disrupt that development, making it harder to learn and retain information. 
  • Because only 2.6% of people who start using alcohol or other substances at age 25 or later develop a substance use disorder.  
So college is, if not the best time to start substance abuse education, the last chance before lasting harm is done.  Colleges and universities in Houston with alcohol abuse prevention or rehab programs include:

Alcohol treatment centers in Dallas, TX

No two drug and alcohol treatment centers in Texas will be exactly alike, but most of the best ones will have some things in common.

Intake assessment

Before a treatment plan is devised, the counselors who conduct the initial interview must understand what type of treatment is needed: 
  • Did the client complete detoxification and withdrawal before approaching the rehab center, or is it still necessary? 
  • Is narcotic replacement therapy (medication-assisted treatment or MAT) necessary to control withdrawal pains from the substance or cravings?
  • Does the client have a co-occurring mental health disorder that also needs treatment (sometimes called a dual diagnosis)? 
  • Does the client need 24/7 monitoring (inpatient care) to control their substance use, or is outpatient care sufficient?

Levels of treatment

There are two basic types of rehab, but there are hybrids. In inpatient care, the client lives at the rehab throughout treatment. They wake up, eat meals, attend individual counseling, group therapy, support group meetings, drug education classes, exercise and recreation, and sleep on the rehab grounds. Clients do not leave, at least unattended, except for special circumstances. They cannot work or attend school except virtually (Skype, Zoom).   For the client with the wherewithal and the desire, there are luxury rehabs with more amenities: a nicer location, private rooms, better food and furnishings, and more types of therapy and recreation.  In outpatient care, the client only visits the rehab center. They spend a few hours a day—not even necessarily every day—at the center for therapy or related treatment and education. After that, they go home, to school, or a job.  The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) criteria for outpatient care specifies there are at least three levels of outpatient care, and clients may transition through them as they improve or decline:
  • Standard outpatient. Treatment may only take an hour or two a week, more as needed or desired. There is plenty of time for school or a job. 
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP). At least three hours a day, three days a week.  
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP). At least four hours a day, five days a week. Also known as Day Hospital.

Types of Treatment

The two main treatments for alcohol use disorders are psychotherapy, holistic therapy, and basic nutrition and exercise. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy and behavioral therapy, is designed to understand and change alcohol and substance use behaviors. These include: 
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy.  
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy.
  • Matrix Model
  • Contingency management
Holistic therapy—also known as integrative medicine or complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)—are techniques that are not science-based but have their roots in alternative medicine traditions and philosophy or are still considered experimental. These include:
  • Acupuncture, especially auricular or ear acupuncture
  • Exercises such as yoga, tai chi, and qigong combine poses/movements with meditation, not sweat. 
  • Massage.
  • Meditation, especially mindfulness meditation
  • Creative therapy, such as art, music, and dance. 
  • Equine therapy
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation 
  • Neurofeedback.  


Since the minimal level of care that experts believe is necessary to be effective is the same as the maximum amount of time most insurance covers (90 days), and because it takes the brain a year or more to recover from the changes caused by alcohol and other substance abuse, there needs to be some form of continuing care. This is known as aftercare Aftercare includes:
  • Teaching clients ways to cope with triggers and problems other than by drinking or using drugs. 
  • Understanding and preparing for the possibility of relapse. It takes more than five attempts (5.35) to stop substance abuse permanently, although half who try do it in two. 
  • Set goals for the clients’ post-alcohol life, such as higher education or vocational training, and help them achieve them.
  • Continuing psychotherapy as needed.
  • Find new things for the client to do and how to find people with whom to do them that do not involve drinking. Membership and attendance at 12-step meetings or a similar peer fellowship can help.

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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