Outpatient Alcohol Rehab

How does outpatient alcohol rehab work and it is right for you?

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Call our local number 01603 513 091
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Outpatient alcohol rehab is for people who are unable to attend inpatient rehabilitation rehab. Inpatient treatment is associated with the highest success rates in helping patients stay sober for the longest time.

However, people may opt for outpatient treatment because: 

  • They have a robust support system at home to help them in the recovery process. 
  • They don't have the funds for inpatient treatment. 
  • Their careers won't permit them to take time off for addiction treatment. 
  • They have other important commitments that they are unable to delegate to others e.g., childcare.  

As the term suggests, outpatient drug or alcohol treatment is alcohol addiction treatment as an outpatient.

The client doesn't stay in the facility. Instead, they attend regular appointments on-site.  

They can follow treatment either daily or for a few hours each week while independently carrying out other aspects of their treatment. 

An outpatient treatment programme is generally less intensive than inpatient treatment. This is because the patient doesn't stay in the facility (typically for between 30 and 90 days).  

Since they are less intensive, they can last longer than inpatient treatment. An outpatient treatment may last for several months up to one year.  

Outpatient treatment helps the addicted individual in their recovery process. This treatment option has many benefits, including affordability and family involvement in the process of recovery.  

It's important to remember that both inpatient and outpatient rehab do not cure alcohol abuse. Instead, they help the individual achieve abstinence. 

What is outpatient alcohol rehab? 

Outpatient drug or alcohol rehab is one approach to addiction treatment where the person goes for treatment at a rehab facility but returns home every night.

Outpatient treatment is similar to inpatient in terms of the methods used to treat alcohol abuse. Where they differ is in their approach to recovery. 

Outpatient drug or alcohol rehab can run in a local health department, counsellor's offices, hospitals or mental health clinics.

Some facilities offer intensive outpatient addiction treatment where the person attends sessions every day for five days. Other facilities may offer intensive outpatient care of up to 20 hours spread over three days. 

Standard outpatient therapy entails 1 or 2 sessions a week for up to three months. During the alcohol addiction treatment, the individual would be expected to work closely with addiction treatment specialists.

You'll go through the regular treatment procedure that entails detox, counselling, or therapy. During therapy, you will learn how to recognize triggers plus coping skills that will help you overcome these triggers. 

It's important to note that treatment is integral for helping you achieve abstinence. Addiction treatment does not claim to cure alcohol addiction permanently.

The process of maintaining the recovery achieved from treatment calls for lifelong commitment to sobriety. 

Once you receive treatment, you have to build resilience to overcome the innumerable pitfalls and temptations in your daily life.

Treatment options such as inpatient or outpatient rehab provide you with the defence mechanisms and coping skills you need to survive and thrive in an addiction-free environment. 

There are different types of outpatient alcohol rehab. The ones that are relatively intensive and structured either involve partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient.

Both offer a full range of assessments, ongoing support and access to more intensive levels of care if needed.  

The three most common outpatient care settings include: 

  • High intensity outpatient treatment: Also known as day treatment or partial hospitalization. This is the most intensive outpatient care and can involve 6 hours a day for the entire week.  
  • Intensive outpatient treatment: Treatment takes place for four days a week.  
  • Low-intensity outpatient treatment: Low-intensity outpatient care is a transition programme that comes before a higher level of care. As your recovery process progresses from clinically managed to self-managed, you'll be less involved in rehab programming to continuing care groups.  
  • Continuing care groups or aftercare.  
  • Sober living: Suitable for those who need a little more support during outpatient treatment.  

Alcohol outpatient treatment (pros and cons) 

Alcohol outpatient treatment has its pros and cons. One of the main benefits of outpatient rehab is that people keep working while they go to work.  

Pros: 

  • The treatment plan is structured to help you continue with many of your daily activities  
  • Counselling sessions offered mostly in the evenings and on weekends  
  • You can immediately start making changes to your real life based on what you learn from therapy.  
  • Most outpatient alcohol or drug addiction treatment involve family members. The family sessions will help your loved ones understand what you're going through.  
  • Outpatient alcohol rehab is generally more affordable as most insurance companies cover outpatient rehab.  

Cons: 

  • Since you're in the same ordinary environment, the risk of relapse is high as you may face the triggers that led you to alcohol addiction.  
  • You may still have access to the alcohol/drugs.  
  • Daily life challenges or distractions could keep you from focusing on recovery.  
  • You have a limited access to you counsellor unlike a residential treatment facility that gives you 24/7 access.  
  • Many residential clients form bonds with other people in treatment who later become part of their sober support network. In outpatient, however, you don't spend much time with others which makes it more challenging to build a support network.  

Alcohol abuse is a complex, chronic condition. In most instances, there are many underlying factors that triggered the person to alcoholism.

Although an outpatient program allows you to continue with work and other obligations, an inpatient treatment is better because you get time off work.  

This time is used to focus on treatment. That's why inpatient programs offer a better chance at long term sobriety.  

In most instances, alcohol use co-occurs with mental health issues. A national survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2020 showed that 1 in 4 people who engaged in alcohol use had a serious mental health issue [1].  

Another study by Kathryn R. Hefner, Antonietta Sollazzo, and Mehmet Sofuoglu showed that among college students, there is evidence of risky alcohol use patterns combined with other types of drugs and mental illness, e.g. depression and anxiety [2].

In such instances, inpatient programmes offer a better addiction treatment option.  

This begs the question, who is outpatient alcohol addiction treatment suitable for?  

People suitable for outpatient alcohol rehab 

Outpatient alcohol rehab is suitable for people with moderate alcohol use. These are people whose physical and psychological health has not been significantly affected with the substance abuse.  

Alcohol use disorder or alcoholism, ranges from mild to severe. The person has a drinking problem in that they persist in drinking alcohol even though it has significantly affected their health, social life, and decision-making process.  

People with a severe drinking problem may find it difficult to undergo outpatient treatment as the desire to drink may be too strong to resist.  

If you have tried quitting before and have experienced emergency hospitalization but still experienced relapse, then outpatient alcohol rehab is not suitable for you.  

People living near an outpatient alcohol addiction treatment facility can opt for outpatient care.

Still, it's important for them to go for an assessment to determine if they exhibit the psychological capacity to resist relapse while working independently upon other areas of their treatment programme.  

The best place to start when choosing between outpatient alcohol treatment and inpatient care is by reaching out to addiction counsellors.

Many treatment providers provide medical advice and a free assessment to help you decide on the best treatment plan for you.  

You can get free confidential assessment from rehab4addiction (UK) or from the UK addiction treatment group.  

The UK addiction treatment group are UK's leading private treatment providers. This group, together with many other drug rehab clinics offer a free call back service.

If you want to talk to an admissions specialist, you can fill in a form at your treatment providers website.  

Take advantage of the free call back service to find out the most suitable treatment plan for you. The leading alcohol rehab facilities handle all the information you provide with confidentiality.

Once you fill the form on their websites, they will call you back to discuss your problems and guide your through treatment options.  

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Outpatient alcohol rehab - what to expect

Outpatient alcohol rehab programmes offer the methods to treat alcohol use disorder that you would find in a residential facility. Treatment entails detox plus counselling or therapy.

The following services are what you should expect in an outpatient programme.  

a). Detox  

Detoxification (detox) is an indispensable past of treating alcohol. It is the first phase of treatment and entails helping the body get rid of the toxins from alcohol consumption.

Detox aims to help the individual handle the withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the severity of alcohol use, the withdrawal symptoms can range from moderate to severe.  

It's impossible for an addict to proceed to the next phase of treatment if they haven't cleansed the body from alcohol or any other drug use.

Because withdrawal symptoms can be deadly, some outpatient programmes offer their clients the option of inpatient care during this stage. 

After that they can proceed with the rest of treatment in an outpatient setting.  

b). Individual assessments and therapy  

Individual assessment and therapy is an integral part of alcohol addiction treatment. It's usually provided on a one-on-one setting and involves a therapist working with the individual addict in a series of therapies.  

In an outpatient setting, the therapy sessions can persist for several months up to a year.

Most private treatment options allow the client to explore different individual therapy models before deciding on the therapy structure that works best for them.  

c). Group therapy  

Group therapy is an aspect of substance abuse treatment associated with positive outcomes. It involves a number of addicts (from three to a dozen) who go for therapy sessions together to interact and learn from each other.  

The recovering individuals share advice and experiences. They also engage in conversations that challenge their worldview and address the distorted thinking or behaviour that fuels the drinking problem.  

d). Mental health therapy sessions  

Some of the people who go for rehab need specialist treatment for a mental illness. The rehab facility will provide group therapy to address the mental health issues and how they influence alcohol use and abuse.  

Group attendees give each other support and learn from each other. This treatment approach motivates the members towards recovery. Addiction counsellors guide the members in the sessions.  

e). Medication assisted detox  

There is no pharmaceutical cure for alcoholism. Still, medication plays a role in alcohol addiction treatment. Some medications can be administered ahead of, or during detox to lower alcohol cravings or dis-incentivise alcohol use.  

The medication lowers alcohol use disorder to more manageable levels. This makes detox and therapy easier. It also alleviates some of the more dangerous and difficult symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.  

f). Family programme involvement  

The role of family in recovery is often underestimated. Yet family members can be indispensable in addiction treatment as they provide love and support at challenging times.  

At the same time, family members can benefit from therapy and other forms of treatment. Having an addicted loved ones leads to emotional and psychological harm to the rest of the family.

Some treatment options provide family therapy programmes in which family members are invited but not obliged to participate. The treatment is designed to help repair the damage that addiction has caused. 

This programme also shows family members how they can participate in their loved ones recovery process.  

g). Wellness and fitness activities  

Health and wellness play a major role in recovery. Many treatment providers combine fitness and wellness in their treatment programme. You'll find activities such as swimming, gym, yoga plus other forms of programmes.

As patients engage in these activities, they get an overall improvement in their health.  

h). Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). 

Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most popular, evidence-based treatment approach found in treatment facilities.

The aim of CBT is to help the patient address the cognitive and problematic behaviours that fuel the alcohol addiction.  

The therapist engages with the clients to discover and come up with the most effective mechanisms for handling triggers and other challenges associated with depression.

The treatment also imparts new skills that help the addict better cope with the challenges they face in their life.  

i). Nutritional assessment  

Aside from physical fitness, treatment providers address nutrition. Most of the addicts entering treatment have poor nutrition as a consequence of alcoholism.

The patients require a general overhaul of their diets by re-introducing them to a healthy way of eating. Treatment providers help their patients come up with a diet plan to complement their recovery.  

j). Spiritual care  

Some patients require spiritual care to aid them in treatment. As such, you can find a treatment programme that puts emphasis on spiritual well-being. There are outpatient programmes that offer on-site spiritual care for clients.

Patients may be encouraged to attend meetings and activities such prayer sessions at a treatment facility. They may also be encouraged to participate in regular spiritual activities outside the outpatient facility.  

k). Continuing care  

Continuing care or aftercare is ongoing treatment offered after the patient completes treatment. Quality treatment providers can offer up to three years aftercare.

The patient gets to engage in regular appointments and check-ups at a treatment facility. They also get to engage in support groups and counselling.  

Some facilities could connect the patients to addiction treatment organisations to help them with aftercare. 

The aim of continuing care is to optimize the chances for successful recovery.  

l). Educational and experiential workshops 

Outpatient alcohol rehab offers people struggling with addiction a chance to learn new skills that will help them in move on with their lives post treatment.

Learning a new skill is beneficial in many ways as it helps boost self-esteem. It also gives the clients a sense of purpose and self-worth.  

m). Other therapy options  

Aside from cognitive behavioural therapy, outpatient care options also offer other forms of therapy.

They include: 

  • Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT): This is a modified version of CBT. It incorporates Buddhist meditative concepts such as distress tolerance, mindfulness and acceptance.  

  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): A form of clinical analysis and counselling that leverages a range of acceptance and mindfulness tactics. The aim of this therapy is to remove the problematic or challenging emotions and thoughts. Also, it helps the clients become receptive to unpleasant triggers and develop techniques to manage them.  

  • Contingency management/motivational incentives (CM): A conditioning technique that helps patients change behaviours by conditioning them through positive reinforcements.  

  • Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) uses standard cognitive behavioural therapy together with other mindfulness and meditative practices. This therapy is considered effective at reducing cravings.  

  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): Helps clients change their thinking and attitude so that they can be more motivated to change.  

  • Twelve-step facilitation: This is a popular treatment programme among Alcoholics Anonymous. It helps clients become actively engaged in recovery.  

  • Solution-focused brief therapy/solution-focused therapy (SFBT): This is a goal directed therapy model that focuses' on coming up with solutions to the challenges the client faces in their lives. The idea is that by helping the addicted individual overcome the challenges, you lower risk of relapse.  

Weekend alcohol rehab

Weekend alcohol rehab is part of outpatient care. It works by providing intensive outpatient therapy after work since most people are free over the weekends.

This treatment approach is flexible as it allows the patients to focus on their work and family obligations over the weekdays.  

During the weekends, the patients get to engage with diverse professionals such as Certified Advance Addiction Counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, medical doctors, social workers, psychiatrists and so on.  

The treatment plan for weekend rehab varies depending on the facility. In some centres, it can be a time to engage with other members in your support group. Some facilities offer outings, or group team-building sessions.  

Once the weekend alcohol rehab ends, the client continues care in an outpatient rehab facility. They continue with day treatment programs that could last for a few hours.  

Gay alcohol rehab

Gay rehab is available for members of the LGBTQ community. There are extensive studies that show LGBTQ members have the highest rate of substance abuse. 

But most gay people avoid treatment because of fear of homophobia, biasness, or prejudice from the treatment specialists.  

But there are inpatient and outpatient alcohol rehab options designed to meet the unique needs of the LGBTQ. These centres are staffed by compassionate and professional clinicians.

The treatment takes place in an environment where diversity and one's sexual orientation are respected. Gay alcohol rehabs only cater to members of the gay community.

As such, they offer a safe environment where individuals can forge a bond and engage in support groups without fear of discrimination.  

Organisations such as the substance abuse mental health services have played a role in outlining standard of care for addiction treatment centres for the LGBT community.

Moreover, because of the demand for care, there are several rehab centres specifically set up to care for the needs of the gay community.  

Conclusion  

Outpatient programmes are a flexible option for those who have work or family obligations. This treatment option allows the individual to visit the facility and go back home after their session ends.

Outpatient treatment also has several benefits, one of them being that its affordable. Most insurance providers offer a complete coverage for outpatient rehab treatment.  

Outpatient programmes vary from highly intensive outpatient care to low intensity care. The facilities also offer different approaches to treatment and it's up to the patient to decide what they want.  

Overall, outpatient care can be just as effective as inpatient treatment. All that's required is for the individual to be committed to change.  

It's important to note that outpatient programmes are not for everyone. Alcohol use disorder is a chronic disease and for most people, being in an inpatient setting provides a better chance at maintaining sobriety.  

As such, it's important to consult your GP to find out the best option for you.  

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

Last Updated: October 5, 2021

About the author

Peter Szczepanski

Peter has been on the GPhC register for 29 years. He holds a Clinical Diploma in Advanced Clinical Practice and he is a Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Misuse for Abbeycare Gloucester and works as the Clinical Lead in Alcohol and Substance Use in Worcestershire. Find Peter on Respiratory Academy, Aston University graduates, University of Birmingham, Q, Pharmaceutical Journal, the Dudley Pharmaceutical Committee, Dudley Council, Twitter, and LinkedIn.