Our program is private, discrete, completely confidential, and individually tailored to meet our patient's needs. Patients who are accepted into the program begin with a comprehensive medical examination, psychological evaluation, and psychosocial evaluation so that we can identify and evaluate any underlying physical problems that may result from the addiction or contributing to it. This is followed by the development and implementation of a comprehensive treatment plan, including, but not limited to, the initiation of medication and psychosocial therapy.


Few medications to treat alcoholism or any other addiction exist. Research shows that a drug called topiramate may reduce self-reported drinking and self-reported craving. Topiramate (marketing as Topamax® in the United States) is currently approved by the FDA for treatment of seizures and migraines. It is currently under investigation to determine its effectiveness in treating alcoholism, as well as other addictions.

Topiramate for the treatment of alcohol dependence, or any other addiction, is not currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Please refer to current prescribing information from the manufacturer. Professor Johnson and his research team have published data supporting that Topiramate, is effective at reducing cravings and heavy drinking and improving abstinence among alcohol-dependent individuals. Additionally Topiramate was found to be superior to placebo at improving the quality of life and overall clinical condition, and at reducing the severity of addiction and harmful consequences of heavy drinking.

Professor Johnson and his research team are also investigating the efficacy of reducing craving for alcohol and other substances with the use of the pharmaceuticals Ondasetron and Naltrexone.

These medications as well as Antabuse are used by patients in the Excelsior Program. As each patient is unique and can respond differently to different medications, our team works with the patient to discover which medication provides the best response for them.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

An important psychosocial treatment with documented utility either alone or in combination with pharmacotherapy in the management of substance abuse disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT represents an integrated application of cognitive behavioral and social-learning theory. The overall treatment goal is enablement of clients to achieve and maintain abstinence by increasing their skills for coping in general, and in specific high-risk situations including anticipatory cravings for abused substances.

The primary treatment components include: self-monitoring and functional analysis of situations associated with substance abuse craving and consummatory behavior; training and rehearsal of coping behaviors and general problem-solving skills; development of an abstinence oriented lifestyle, and instructions on how to prevent a lapse from turning into a relapse.

There are, however, significant and specific challenges in utilizing CBT to treat alcoholism or any other addiction. These challenges include limitations in the ability of patients to learn and effectively utilize effective coping strategies due to both external/environmental and internal factors.

Since CBT can be conceptualized as a "dose" of treatment, and research in CBT has tentatively demonstrated a correlation between amount of effective coping skills learned and symptom improvement, it is imperative to be able to measure the amount of learning occurring in these patients. We present a review of our CBT treatment approach and also provide information regarding challenges to this treatment approach specific to this population, as well as solutions to enhance compliance and coping skills learning.

Your Excelsior Liaison- One Person to Manage the Details

From the start, you will be working with your own personal treatment liaison, a highly trained professional whose sole responsibility is to make your life easier. Your liaison can take care of everything- from reservations during your stay at one of Charlottesville's historic inns or hotels to scheduling transportation, coordinating air travel, to helping you discover events and activities do to around Charlottesville. Whatever your need, whenever you need it, your liaison has the resources to handle your requirements quickly, discretely and to your complete satisfaction.