Outpatient Rehabilitation programs for Alcohol Addiction

How does a gin and tonic compare with heroin? What about beer, our favorite brands like corona, miller, and bud lite? Meth next to bourbon or whiskey? I think we can all agree that the illicit substances are more destructive, but these familiar drinks which are perfectly legal, cause more cases of serious addiction than any illicit substances. Alcoholism causes more people to seek out rehab than meth, heroin, or any other illicit substance. It’s time that we recognize how serious a drinking problem can get.

For more on Alcohol Recovery, check out our guide here

When addiction creeps into our lives, we can get into a lot of trouble. It’s important to recognize when we need help, and seek treatment. Alcohol treatment centers can help you detox, and get back into the habit of healthy sober living. Experts agree that inpatient programs, which require you to move into the facilities for 30-90 days, are the most intensive, and effective type of rehab program.

Outpatient Rehab

For some people however, an inpatient rehab just isn’t the right choice. It’s not always possible for us to leave our entire lives behind for months at a time while we get treatment for a drinking problem. Work, children, school, pets… we all have responsibilities and things to take care of, but addiction doesn’t exactly wait patiently.

Outpatient alcohol rehab is a more realistic alternative for those of us who’d rather stay at home and hold on to our obligations. You can attend treatment for specified hours during the day then go back home to your own bed, in your own house at night time. Your treatment providers will help you form a schedule that doesn’t interfere with the important things you have going on in your life.

Before we go in depth about the pros and cons of choosing an outpatient rehab vs an inpatient treatment center, let’s go over what the term outpatient means exactly and what you can expect from this kind of program.

Outpatient: what does it mean?

In the dictionary, outpatient is defined as someone who’s receiving medical treatment without being admitted into the hospital.

The definition is fitting, but it’s important to note that rehabs aren’t hospitals; they don’t have that weird smell or somber feeling. Usually, inpatient rehabs more closely resemble a resort or an apartment building with upscale amenities, but there is a quite a bit of variation out there. Enrolling into an inpatient program does not mean you’ll be stuck in a hospital bed. Interested in learning more about Inpatient programs? Read this guide

Ok, so where is outpatient rehab? What does it look like?

When you enroll in an outpatient program to treat an addiction to alcohol, you will meet your treatment providers in mental health facilities or certain parts of a regular, inpatient rehab building. You will do the same types of activities and treatments that in-patients usually do, such as different forms of therapy including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy- This kind of therapy is a bit like classes on how your thoughts, emotions and behaviors go together, and how you can better manage these things. You will learn specific techniques to use in moments where you feel out of control or have really strong cravings.
  • Family Therapy- Our relationships affect us, there is no avoiding it. If we want fully address how and why we developed addictions, we have to go back to our family roots. Unpackaging old wounds and healing as a group will help you get clean.
  • Contingency Management- Although its not exactly therapy, contingency management is a great way to make behavior changes a little bit easier. When your rehab uses this tool, you will be rewarded for making positive changes. You might be rewarded for attendance, showing a strong effort, or whatever else you need help getting motivated for.

Inpatient/outpatient are just the broadest categories rehabilitation services. There is a wide variety of different programs to choose from, read more here.

The Pros and Cons of Outpatient Rehabilitation

Are you on the fence about choosing an inpatient program or an outpatient alternative? You’re not alone, it can be a difficult decision to make. Hopefully our pros and cons will help you arrive at the right choice.

Inpatient Alcohol Treatment Centers:

Pros Cons
  • A calm stable recovery environment away from stressors, bad influences, and obligations
  • Must move out of your home
  • An immersive treatment experience
  • More expensive
  • Lower chances of relapse, both short and longterm
  • Separation from friends and loved ones and the outside world
  • Medical monitoring and 24/7 emotional support if needed
  • Must take off from school or work, or find childcare assistance

Outpatient Alcohol Recovery options

Pros Cons
  • Less expensive than inpatient rehab
  • An immersive experience is not possible
  • You can stay at home with your spouse or family
  • You will not have monitoring or support once you leave the treatment center
  • You will have time to stay in school, keep your job, or manage whatever else you have going on
  • May not be as effective in the long run
  • You will be free to do what you like, and spend time with your friends
  • Might not have the chance to participate in as many recreational activities or workshops
  • Outpatient programs offer a greater feeling of independence
  • The emotional and environmental triggers of the real world will still affect you

Are you concerned about paying for rehab? Check out our in-depth guide on the costs of addiction treatment.