While most diseases are either physical or psychological, alcohol addiction is somewhere in the middle with elements of both. Most of the treatments that one is likely to associate with alcoholism recovery — individual counseling, group therapy, relapse-prevention training — are intended to address the psychological side of addiction. The physical side of alcoholism, which is a person’s bodily or physical dependence on alcohol, is addressed mostly separately. Additionally, a person’s physical dependence on alcohol is addressed before beginning the main treatment program so that his or her body is stabilized and in a state of health by the time he or she is participating in counseling and group sessions, otherwise one would likely experience withdrawal symptoms during counseling that would limit a person’s ability to focus.
Alcohol Detox at a Glance
- Ensures patient safety
- Continuous medical care
- Designated support team
- Relaxing, comfortable environment
- Alleviates withdrawal symptoms
- Promotes comfort with medications
- Time to focus on self
- Curtail alcohol dependence
- Prepares patients for treatment
Detox programs are typically the first stage of a person’s recovery from alcoholism because they address and help him or her to overcome physical dependence on alcohol prior to starting a treatment program. More specifically, alcohol detoxification treatment is the initial period during which a person’s body is cleansed of alcohol and any other chemicals or toxins, which restores a person to a state of physical health. Since alcohol detoxification can be dangerous when a person isn’t monitored, detox programs assure patient safety by offering continuous, round-the-clock supervision and medical care. The goal of the physicians, detox technicians, and other staff members who care for patients during detox treatment is to make each patient as safe and comfortable as possible while they prepare themselves for the next phase of recovery.
Only about 1 in every 10 people struggling with substance abuse will seek out or receive treatment, which means the remaining are on track to remain in active chemical dependence.
There have been a number of theories to explain this dramatic discrepancy. Some of the most common objections that alcoholics have to recovery include fear of alcohol withdrawals, an aversion to admitting being addicted to alcohol, fear of not being strong enough to actually overcome alcoholism, and concern over the cost of treatment.
However, most of the fears and concerns that make alcoholics resistant to recovery can be addressed by providing them with a form of treatment that’s more accessible, flexible, and much lower in cost.
“The appeal of outpatient care is in its flexibility and offering a less intensive curriculum than other forms of treatment. This makes outpatient programs ideal for those who are in overall good health and are working alcoholism recovery into their existing schedules.”
While inpatient care entails temporary residency in a rehab until treatment has been completed, outpatient care is a form of treatment in which clients continue to live in their home environments while commuting to rehab on designated days to receive treatment.
Since outpatient programs don’t require residency, they’re less expensive than other forms of care. And since clients live at home during treatment, outpatient programs can seem much less daunting than inpatient and residential treatment.
The curricula of outpatient alcoholism treatment programs is most often limited to the most essential treatments and therapies since the total amount of treatment time is more limited in outpatient care than it is in inpatient. Despite being a less intensive form of treatment, outpatient programs are considered optimal for individuals who, aside from their alcoholism, are in good health, have a safe and stable home environment, and whose alcohol addictions aren’t considered extremely severe.
Outpatient programs typically offer the least amount of oversight, last between one and three months, and take place just a few days each week, making them preferable to those who must continue fulfilling their responsibilities while in treatment.
If outpatient programs are the least intensive form of alcoholism treatment, intensive outpatient programs could be considered a step up with regard to the amount and variety of treatment available.
Intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs, are still a type of outpatient care, but they’re intended to offer a higher level of treatment intensity than standard outpatient care. Most intensive outpatient programs meet three to four days each week for up to four hours of treatment each day.
In addition to offering the core components of alcoholism recovery programming—individual counseling, interpersonal process groups, addiction education, relapse-prevention training—there will be a selection of treatments that are more specific in their focus with which clients can personalize their programs to a certain degree.
Intermediate Quality of Care
Intensive outpatient programs are unique in that they offer a level of care that’s in between outpatient and inpatient. People of fair health with stable living conditions will benefit from intensive outpatient care.
Flexible Treatment Schedule
While offering a higher quality of care, intensive outpatient programs still give clients the opportunity to incorporate recovery into their existing schedules.
Affordable, yet Effective
There are many people who may not require inpatient-level care while also preferring something more than standard outpatient treatment. Intensive outpatient care is a happy medium; better treatment that’s still affordable.
For instance, a client in intensive outpatient treatment may choose to include twelve-step group sessions in their treatment while another person might choose to participate in life-skills training or stress management sessions. Again, the extent to which a client can personalize an intensive outpatient program is somewhat limited, but there’s greater potential to have more specific or unique needs met in an intensive outpatient program than what’s offered in standard outpatient programs.
While a number of people choose intensive outpatient treatment for their primary treatment, it’s become quite common—and even encouraged—for those who complete inpatient programs to then transition into intensive outpatient programs. This way, they can continue adjust to being back in their communities while continuing to receive a reduced level of treatment and structure.
Do you seek inpatient-level care, but can’t commit yourself to a residential program and an absence of between one and three months? Partial hospitalization treatment can give you the best of both worlds: an intensive, inpatient-like curriculum on an outpatient basis.
Partial hospitalization programs (PHP)—also commonly referred to as day treatment or partial day treatment programs—were intended to offer the best of both outpatient and inpatient treatment.
Essentially, partial hospitalization treatment is an inpatient-like curriculum offered in an outpatient-like format. This makes them ideal for those who have stable, safe, and alcohol-free home environments, but who may have a greater need for medical care and supervision than would be available in outpatient and intensive outpatient programs.
In addition to a greater level of structure and supervision, partial hospitalization programs allow for the greatest amount of curriculum personalization of any outpatient program since they offer much more treatment time and a better selection of treatments. Taking place five or more days per week for about six hours each day, partial hospitalization programs represent a pretty significant time commitment.
Although most people would prefer some type of outpatient program, in many cases that’s simply not enough. Especially with alcoholism, a person’s addiction is often much more severe than they might think due to how the body adapts to continuous alcohol consumption over time.
When a person addicted to alcohol abruptly ceases consumption, there’s the potential for life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and a need for an intensive, daily regimen of counseling, group sessions, and other therapies for the person to have the greatest chance of achieving lasting sobriety. Therefore, it’s often recommended for alcoholics to complete detox treatment followed by inpatient care.
- At least 64 percent of all people receiving substance abuse treatment are being treated for alcoholism, which shows that while there are many forms of chemical dependency, alcohol is the most problematic substance by a large margin.
- According to estimates, more than 100,000 people die from alcohol abuse and alcohol-related incidents each year, including car crashes caused by drinking and driving, falls and other accidental injuries, and alcohol-related homicides.
After completing a detox program, a client may transition into an inpatient alcohol treatment program. Inpatient programs require client residency for the duration of treatment, which can last from one to three months, or even six months to a year, in extended or long-term inpatient program.
While being the most intensive—and the most successful—form of treatment, it’s also the treatment that allows for the absolute highest degree of customization and personalization. Clients may receive up to eight hours of treatment seven days a week and then choose treatments, therapies, and activities that best address their needs for the rest of their day.
These additional services might include gender-based groups, holistic treatments, experiential therapies, nutritional therapy, and many more possibilities. Additionally, inpatient care offers the highest level of medical care with round-the-clock supervision, making this type of treatment especially beneficial to anyone who has health problems in addition to alcohol addiction.