Outpatient Alcohol Treatment: What Is It?

Alcoholism is on the rise in the United States. According to a recent study from the Journal of the America Medical Association, one in eight adults meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism is a serious disease, but it is treatable. Outpatient alcohol treatment gives clients the benefit of medical care, individual therapy, and other tools on a more flexible schedule that can promote independence and long-term sobriety.

Outpatient rehab programs do require significant responsibility from individuals, so the decision for this type of care should be carefully considered. However, with scalable treatment options, people can find the right treatment plan that will allow them to achieve lasting recovery.

What Is Outpatient Alcohol Treatment?

Group meeting talking about outpatient alcohol treatment
Group meeting talking about outpatient alcohol treatment

The types of treatment for alcohol use disorder are divided into two categories: inpatient and outpatient rehab. During inpatient care, an individual lives at the rehab center, where the facility can provide them with the greatest structure and access to the resources they need. This is particularly important when people may be a danger to themselves or others.

Outpatient alcohol programs involve a combination of educational activities and therapy. With this type of care, patients live at home and spend a certain amount of time per day using the rehab’s resources. Generally, outpatient care is suitable for individuals who have already completed detox and/or early stage inpatient rehab. These patients have demonstrated they can move on to the next phase of treatment and handle increased autonomy.

What Does Outpatient Alcohol Treatment Consist Of?

Outpatient addiction treatment is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of care strategies. More than anything, it involves treatment modalities that help individuals maintain their normal lives while staying sober. The structure of care is significantly different from inpatient care. Inpatient care entails 24/7 treatment and begins with a period of medical detoxification to treat complex cases of addiction.

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Outpatient alcohol rehab is for a specific amount of hours and days per week and generally offers the following programs:

  • Group counseling: Outpatient rehabs make use of group therapy to remind patients that they are not alone in their efforts to stay sober. Groups can focus on different areas, like developing coping skills, finding patterns in behavior, etc.
  • Individual counseling: In one-on-one counseling, patients work with licensed mental health professionals to work on the underlying issues that contribute to addiction.
  • Family therapy: Oftentimes, a family can make all the difference in alcohol addiction treatment. Here, patients and their families come together to resolve their conflicts and discuss how they can best support the patient in long-term recovery.
  • Medication management: A physician will meet with you to discuss your current medications. They may then suggest adding, changing, or removing medications to help you stay sober.

The goal is to provide convenience, flexibility, and autonomy for people who are ready for outpatient treatment. Since individuals often live at home, this treatment gives them the greatest levels of independence. This means patients need to be equipped to handle everyday stresses and triggers that may come their way. In this way, outpatient alcohol treatment functions as a tool to help people handle their everyday lives while maintaining their sobriety.

How Long Does Outpatient Alcohol Treatment Last?

Most clinicians prefer not to put a specific amount of time for any form of addiction treatment. Each patient is unique and has their own needs. Outpatient care can last for a few weeks or a few months Typically, intensive outpatient care lasts for around a month, with continuing treatment lasting between three to nine months. Long term care will continue for months or even years, as recovery is a lifelong journey.

What are The Types of Outpatient Alcohol Treatment?

Outpatient alcohol treatment is available in a variety of different forms. Within it, there is a variety of different intensity and care types, including:

Day Program Outpatient Care

The most intensive form of outpatient care, these programs work with individuals at least five days per week and six hours per day. During treatment, patients have access to individual and group therapy along with treatment for co-occurring disorders. Typically, people begin with inpatient care and eventually scale down to this level of treatment.

Intensive Outpatient Program

Offering greater flexibility than day program, intensive outpatient care is another option usually following inpatient or partial hospitalization care. These programs are ideal choices for clients who are ready to resume their work, school, and family responsibilities. Usually, these programs involve care for three to four days per week during the daytime or evening hours.

What are the Benefits of Outpatient Alcohol Treatment?

Before entering an outpatient program, you first need to be sure that it’s right for your needs. Treatment approaches must be matched alongside individual needs, resources, and ability to complete given treatment modalities. For individuals suited to outpatient care, benefits include:

  • Increased levels of independence compared to inpatient programs
  • More flexibility in scheduling and program design
  • Ability to live at home, work, and/or attend school while receiving treatment
  • Support to work through continuing care and recovery
  • Ability to rebuild and grow presence in family and professional life
  • Effective treatment for mild and moderate alcohol addiction
  • Lower cost compared to inpatient care
  • Comfortable treatment facilities
  • Support for co-occurring disorders


Frequently Asked Questions

What is outpatient alcohol treatment?

Outpatient alcohol treatment involves therapy and support for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction, provided on an outpatient basis. This means that patients attend therapy sessions and programs during the day and return home at night, allowing them to maintain their daily routines.

Who can benefit from outpatient alcohol treatment?

Outpatient alcohol treatment can benefit individuals with mild to moderate alcohol use disorders who do not require round-the-clock supervision or medical detoxification. It’s suitable for those who have stable living environments and support systems.

What types of therapy are offered in outpatient alcohol treatment?

Outpatient alcohol treatment may include individual counseling, group therapy, family therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and other evidence-based approaches tailored to the individual’s needs.

How long does outpatient alcohol treatment last?

The duration of outpatient alcohol treatment varies depending on individual needs, treatment goals, and progress. Some programs may last for several weeks, while others may continue for several months or longer.

What are the advantages of outpatient alcohol treatment?

Outpatient alcohol treatment offers flexibility, allowing individuals to receive treatment while continuing to fulfill work, school, or family obligations. It also provides access to support networks and resources within the community.

How Much Does Outpatient Alcohol Care Cost?

Typically, the cost of outpatient alcohol programs is lower since it requires less intensive care from rehab facilities. However, most forms of alcohol and drug rehab are covered by insurance companies. For questions about cost, talk with one of our specialists.

Is Outpatient Care Right for Me or a Loved One?

Typically, outpatient care is best suited to those who have already completed inpatient care or have detoxed on their own. However, the right type of care is highly personalized. The most important step is reaching out to an addiction specialist who can help you better understand your options. This begins with a screening and consultation with an integrative care team who will determine the best approach for you. Long term recovery is possible and it can begin today.

Call (419) 949-8590 to speak with one of our treatment specialists and learn more about our programs. Or click here to take an assessment.

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