Addiction Treatment (Drugs and Alcohol)

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Outpatient Alcohol Rehab

An answer for a moderate addiction

While all alcoholism is persistent and hard to kick, there are true levels of dependency. For those with milder addictions, the option of outpatient alcohol rehab can provide a sensible answer to ending the addiction without excessive disruption of the ordinary obligations of daily life.

Moderate addiction and outpatient treatment

  • Is there a clear difference between a moderate addiction and a severe addiction?
  • Outpatient rehab: a modified program
  • Finding an outpatient program

Levels of alcoholic addiction

There is no clear way of classifying levels of alcoholic addiction. The simplest rule of thumb is that in low to moderate levels the addiction can, in large part, be controlled without recourse to constant medical and structural intervention. This is clearly a matter of art as much as science: each patient is unique, and even strongly motivated patients can – and often do – backslide. Nonetheless, when a patient is not so heavily addicted as to be in constant need, or have developed extreme tolerance for mega-doses of alcohol, then it’s possible to consider an outpatient approach to treatment.

How does outpatient therapy differ from inpatient therapy?

Inpatient therapy covers a spectrum of treatments, but is always centered on a detoxification program carried through on the premises of a medical facility: an accredited detox facility or, quite commonly, a hospital. For the period of detoxification/withdrawal a patient will be given care and supervision 24/7, with attention given to medical and emotional aspects of the withdrawal response.

Programs on an inpatient basis are also likely to begin the process of establishing a new and highly structured daily routine for a patient, and provide therapy to start re-establishing a new set of social and personal behaviors. By making use of the time in the hospital or clinic the extreme addict can be transitioned directly into the form of highly controlled life habits that best help an addict resist the longing to backslide. In-patient programs will eventually give way to outpatient programs as the addict progresses in recovery, but the centering of the entire process is focused on the time spent under care and in isolation from former environmental factors.

Outpatient therapy may involve a period spent in a clinic or hospital in detoxification. More often, it will assume that true chemical detoxification is either not yet needed or that the addiction remains sufficiently mild that the physical and emotional reactions to withdrawal will be well within the ability of the addict to endure during the first days of alcohol-free living. A good program will, however, provide contacts and resources, preparatory skills, suggested activities, and methods for coping with the inevitable feelings of stress. For many patients this will be the time for entering a 12-step program (often a mandatory portion of any addiction treatment, due to the comparative success shown in these programs). A 12-step program will often provide a mentor/guide to help an addict deal with the problems of rehabilitation.

Outpatient rehab programs are even more likely to stress social support and social reconditioning than inpatient programs. A good program will provide therapy – personal, group, and family therapy in many cases. Addicts will be educated in the psychology and sociology of addiction.

Finding a good outpatient program

Finding a program that is well-structured, and aimed at ensuring a mild to moderate addict can quit and stay free of alcohol is largely a matter of making use of referral resources. By calling hospitals, clinics, or professional services you can find great therapy and support for yourself or for someone close to you.


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