According to the National Institute on Alcohol Use and Alcoholism, only 7.3% of people over 18 years who reported an alcohol use disorder in 2019 got help. The stress and isolation of the pandemic made the problem even worse, creating an increased demand for accessible addiction treatment. The good news is that there are more outpatient treatment programs than ever, and many let patients get the help they need without leaving their jobs or families.
What Is Outpatient Alcohol Rehab?
An alcohol treatment program falls into one of two categories: inpatient or outpatient. Both have the same goals, but one requires a hospital stay. The other allows the patient to go home at night and keep a normal routine. In the past, inpatient programs were considered best for serious addictions because they offered fewer distractions and more intense therapy. The outpatient option also has its advantages. Because every patient has individual needs, the “best” treatment plan varies.
An outpatient treatment program provides these benefits:
- Allows patients to go home daily and keep their jobs
- Is a viable alternative for people who prefer a virtual option because of location or transportation issues
- Doesn’t require patients to give up positive support systems at home or in the community
- Provides an opportunity to practice skills learned in treatment programs
- Is less expensive than inpatient treatment.
- Is a safe place for patients to detox while being monitored
Outpatient rehab is not appropriate for everyone:
- Makes it easier for patients to access alcohol and relapse.
- Is more effective for treating mild or moderate addictions.
- Requires commitment and self-control away from the facility.
These outpatient alcohol rehab programs vary in their levels of intensity:
Patients participate in individual or group therapy sessions every week.
Patients go to a treatment center several days a week for intensive sessions that include individual, group or family therapy. Medical supervision may be included.
- Partial hospitalization
Patients attend treatment sessions for several hours a day on several days of the week. Treatment may include medical management and individual, group or family counseling. Sometimes, partial hospitalization follows an inpatient program.
- Sober living homes
Patients live in a sober home while attending an intensive outpatient program at a cooperating facility. Residents live together, have jobs and participate in various kinds of therapy.
What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Alcohol use disorder is a medical condition that makes it difficult for someone to stop drinking even when it has negative effects on relationships, work performance or health. Names for the disorder include dependence, abuse, addiction or alcoholism; and symptoms range from mild to severe. It causes changes in the brain that increase the risk of relapse, but treatment to create and maintain sobriety is available.
Healthcare providers use the following criteria to identify problem drinking:
- Drinking a greater amount or for longer than intended
- Trying to cut back or stop and not being able
- Craving alcohol
- Having hangovers or related issues that interfere with relationships or performance
- Reducing other activities and spending more time drinking
- Continuing to drink even when it’s creating problems
- Drinking even though it leads to risky behavior
- Needing more alcohol to get the same results
- Having worsening anxiety or depression because of drinking
- Having withdrawal symptoms
Risk factors include a family history of addiction, genetic predisposition, drinking at an early age, past trauma and mental illness.
Is Recovery Possible?
There is no cure for alcohol use disorder, but lasting sobriety is possible. Relapse is common during treatment, but getting help early in the process can prevent setbacks. Cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches techniques for avoiding triggers, such as coping with stress or avoiding old environments. Medication can be helpful, especially during setbacks like a death in the family or divorce.
What Treatments Do Outpatient Treatment Programs Use?
Outpatient alcohol rehab is not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one person may not work for another, and the needs of each person change during and after treatment. Medical providers and therapists use one or more of the following in addiction treatment:
The Federal Drug Administration has approved three non-addictive drugs to reduce drinking or prevent relapse. They may be used with other kinds of therapy.
- Behavioral therapy
Talk therapy motivates, encourages and teaches techniques for avoiding relapse and dealing with triggers.
- Support groups
Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups offer support and encourage sobriety. Meetings are usually free and conveniently located in most communities.
Are There Other Kinds of Treatment?
Mainstream treatments include counseling, medical supervision and support groups; but other activities may complement conventional healing. These include recreational activities, such as art or writing therapy, and exercise programs like walking and strength training. The mental and physical practices in yoga calm the part of the brain associated with cravings, and meditation has multiple benefits, including reducing stress and promoting a sense of well-being.
There are many styles of meditation. Mindfulness involves concentrating on the present moment and letting other thoughts come and go without judging them. Mantra meditation is the practice of repeating a phrase to calm the mind, and guided meditations lead the mind on a relaxing journey. Moving meditations include repetitive activities, such as walking and qigong, that quiet the mind. Practices like these help too: massage, acupuncture, energy healing, biofeedback, physical exercise and nutritional therapy.
How Does Alcohol Use Disorder Affect Americans?
Statistics from the National Center for Drug Abuse show the sobering effects of alcohol:
- Alcohol causes the deaths of 95,000 Americans every year.
- During the COVID lockdowns, 60% of Americans increased their intake of alcohol.
- Three times as many men as women die from excessive alcohol use.
- Daily, 261 Americans die from excessive use of alcohol.
- Annually, intoxicated adults cause the deaths of 150 children.
- Almost 54% of alcohol-related deaths result from chronic misuse.
- In 2019, 14.5 million Americans over the age of 12 had an alcohol use disorder.
- Excessive drinking increases the risk of injuries and worsens chronic conditions, such as liver and heart disease. It also leads to undesirable outcomes in pregnancy.
Is a Detox Program Necessary?
Detox starts when alcohol leaves the body’s system and lasts about a week, but side effects can last longer. Although it’s possible for some people to detox at home, professional care may be necessary or desirable. When detox takes place in a medical center, health providers are available to administer medication to prevent seizures and other withdrawal symptoms. They can also monitor body functions like blood pressure, temperature and breath rate. Another alternative is gradually reducing consumption of alcohol over several weeks under medical supervision, lowering dependency. Dietary changes or supplements may be recommended.
Is It Time to Ask For Help?
It’s never too soon to ask for information about addiction treatment. If you think you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol, Long Island Interventions can help. Chat with us online, or call (631) 887-3234 to find out more about everything from interventions to inpatient care.