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How Does Outpatient Alcohol Detox Work?

by | Published on Jul 26, 2021 | Alcohol Addiction, Drug and Alcohol Detox Program

outpatient alcohol detox

There are two main types of detox programs: inpatient and outpatient. While the goal of both is the same, each program looks very different. For some people, an outpatient alcohol detox program works best.

Often, people avoid or postpone getting help for their addiction because they can’t afford rehab. In this case, choosing an outpatient rehab program can help them find the support they need while still enjoying some of the flexibility required to keep responsibilities like school or work.

An outpatient detox center helps people get help at a facility during the day and return to their homes at night. This allows them to work and keep up with most responsibilities while receiving the treatment for addiction they need. Not to mention, these programs are also more cost-effective as they don’t include 24/7 care.

What to Expect from Outpatient Detox

The process for alcohol detox involves helping the body process substances of abuse. A designated team of experts in an outpatient detox program creates a treatment plan that addresses your unique needs.

Outpatient alcohol detox generally takes place outside a rehab center. You will visit the treatment center each day for monitoring and medication. The first sessions last about 2 hours to include an individual physical and psychological examination with your doctor. They’ll then draft a customized treatment plan for you.

Each follow-up session will last about half an hour to an hour. A complete outpatient detox program lasts on average 7 days, but it can range from 3 to 14 days depending on the severity of your addiction and your withdrawal symptoms timeline.

The most significant benefit to this program is that you can continue to fulfill your responsibilities while enjoying more freedom than in an inpatient setting. It’s also less expensive so that you can budget for it. Although, most rehab programs are covered under insurance. Plus, you’ll have support from your family members and friends as you’re going through detox.

Of course, an outpatient alcohol detox has its disadvantages too. To starters, it can make relapse easier since you’ll have access to alcohol. It might also be less effective for people that live in a hostile or toxic environment without the support of friends and family.

Finally, outpatient detox is not recommended for long-time heavy drinkers since they’re more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms that could cause coma and death if not handled in a medical facility.

Is One Detox Method More Effective?

It depends. Inpatient detox is generally more effective, but it doesn’t mean outpatient detox is ineffective as long as people are only experiencing mild to moderate alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This means things like loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting; an outpatient detox can work.

If withdrawal symptoms go beyond that, with symptoms like delirium tremens, hallucinations, and confusion, outpatient programs might not be effective. In this case, an inpatient detox program will make sure you’re safe and monitored to prevent fatal consequences.

For someone experiencing severe symptoms, perhaps a partial hospitalization program (PHP) might be better. Here, patients receive intense “hospital-like” treatment to detox from alcohol. However, patients still go home at the end of the day. If someone doesn’t have a supportive home, their addiction specialist can recommend a sober living house or a safe place to spend the night while they detox.

Out of all of these treatment methods, inpatient and residential treatment have the highest success rate for drug addictions in general. Even with these programs, only 21% of patients remain clean or sober after five years.

However, seven studies yielded no significant differences on drinking-related outcome variables.

How to Know If an Outpatient Alcohol Detox Is the Right Choice?

The decision to enter an inpatient program is a major one that requires the entire family’s support and encouragement. Outpatient programs have more flexibility, so you can try to juggle both responsibilities simultaneously. However, when choosing between inpatient and outpatient treatment, the choice is a very personal one.

Ask yourself these questions to help you find the best option:

  • Will temptations and triggers around the home, family members, school, and work interfere with your sobriety?
  • Will social ties try to influence you back into substance abuse?
  • Have you been unsuccessful in rehab before?
  • Are you still physically addicted to drugs and alcohol?

If you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, inpatient treatment might be the right option for you right now.

Remember, the goal of detox is to help you quit alcohol in a secure environment. But, to stay sober, you’ll need to look at different treatment options. Most treatment facilities offer medication-assisted treatment to prescribe detox medications that can make the process more comfortable.

Working with a medical professional, you’ll find the right course of treatment to deal with an addiction. Besides the rehab program, attending support group meetings and speaking with your family and friends can be helpful.

Getting Ready for Detox

Regardless of what type of detox you choose to do, a quality detox facility will break the process into three steps:

  • Evaluation: a physical assessment to know the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. This will help them understand what kind of withdrawal symptoms you’re bound to expect and what your medications will be.
  • Stabilization: this process is all about helping your body get rid of alcohol while managing withdrawal symptoms. With your doctor’s instructions and treatment plan at hand, you shouldn’t experience any severe symptoms.
  • Next Steps: detox is by far a complete treatment for alcohol addiction. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “detoxification alone is not sufficient in the treatment and rehabilitation of substance use disorders.” Usually, most people continue their treatment with an intensive outpatient program.

Finding Alcohol Treatment Help

When you choose an outpatient detox program, you’re in charge of your recovery. It’s important to follow your therapist’s instructions and seek friends and family support to recover from alcohol abuse.

If you or someone you know is considering outpatient detox, reach out to our specialists. Call us today at 866-308-2090 for a complimentary and confidential screening call to help you find the right treatment program for you.

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine Orentas

Geraldine is Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s Digital Marketing Manager. She has a Bachelor’s in Journalism and experience in the digital media industry. Geraldine’s writing allows her to share valuable information about mental health, wellness, and drug addiction facts, hoping to shed light on the importance of therapy and ending the stigma.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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