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The A, B, C’s of Outpatient Alcohol Rehab

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Rehabilitation services come in all shapes and sizes. From rapid detox to methadone clinics, there’s generally a form of treatment to fit everyone’s needs.

One commonly used form of alcohol rehabilitation services is outpatient treatment.

The Nitty-Gritty

So, what are these programs like and what can you expect while going through an outpatient program? Following is a basic overview of outpatient programs for alcoholics.

Outpatient treatment programs allow you to receive services while continuing to live at home. This makes them appealing for those who:

  • Want or need to maintain a presence at work
  • Would like to keep their treatment confidential or anonymous
  • Need a more affordable option than in-patient treatment


What Can You Expect from Outpatient Care?

Outpatient alcohol rehab provides services from intake to aftercare. It generally follows an ABC format:

A – Assessment – Through discussion, interviewing, and physical exams, staff gather information to assess your current health and needs. This will help determine what steps need to be taken to assist you on your road to recovery.

B – Building – Based on your assessment, the appropriate next steps are built into your recovery program. Will relational issues require family counseling? Do you have other medical issues? How long should your treatment last? These and other issues are considered as your treatment plan is established. A caseworker integrates services to meet your unique needs, from financial, to vocational, to legal. Services are coordinated and built into the outpatient program.

C – Counseling – Therapy is accomplished in several formats. One-on-one intensive psychotherapy occurs between patients and professional counselors. Less formal group discussions are also common. Family, support group, and cognitive therapy are all potential counseling approaches.

D – Detox – Physical detox from alcohol is a necessary early step toward recovery. Withdrawal symptoms may be severe, depending on your situation. Outpatient programs may partner with other facilities or programs to provide supervised detox. It is not likely you will undergo detox at the outpatient facility, but it will be one of the first steps of the treatment process.

E – Education – An important part of outpatient alcohol rehabilitation is the learning process. Those in treatment must learn about addiction, recovery, coping strategies, triggers, and support networks. Having a good understanding of the recovery process and the tools available is key.

F – Follow up – Once you have completed the basic outpatient rehabilitation treatment program, after-care services are typically recommended or set up. This may involve continuation of vocational training that was begun, or connecting you with 12-step programs in your area. The goal is to provide a strong network of support as you leave outpatient treatment.

The When, Where and Why of Outpatient Care

Outpatient alcohol rehab typically requires patients to attend daily or weekly sessions. Each session normally lasts 30 to 60 minutes. The time involved is usually three to 20 hours per week.

Most programs span 28 to 90 days. Long-term recovery programs lasting more than 90 days are also available. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that participation for 90 days or longer produces more successful outcomes.

Outpatient treatment is usually housed in a hospital or clinic. You will travel there for treatment but return home after each session.

The main goal of outpatient alcohol rehab is, of course, recovery from alcohol abuse. You will learn to abstain from alcohol as you establish new ways to cope with life. Outpatient treatment helps improve physical health, relationships, financial and employment situations, and psychological problems. Rehab also helps you build a support system to continue working on these areas after leaving the program.

Those completing an outpatient alcohol rehab program are provided with tools and guidance to keep them on a healthy path of recovery.
Additional Reading: Study: Intensive Outpatient Treatment as Effective as Inpatient Treatment
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