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Outpatient Rehab For Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Published on June 28, 2021
Outpatient Rehab For Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Outpatient treatment is recommended for those with a mild or moderate case of alcohol use disorder (AUD). More serious cases are likely advised to go with an inpatient rehab program. 

Outpatient rehab allows the person to go about their daily lives, live in their home environment, and still receive rehab treatment for alcohol addiction.

Most outpatient treatment programs offer some kind of alcohol abuse education, individual and group therapy, and tips and strategies on how to live life without alcohol.

What To Expect At An  Outpatient Treatment Center

While outpatient rehab programs allow you to stay at home and go about your daily routine, it is still a lengthy and intense process. 

Outpatient services involve individual therapy sessions, group therapy, 12-step programs, and substance abuse education that includes relapse prevention skills, stress management strategies, communication skills, and goal setting. 

Detox is likely not included in standard outpatient treatment. If you require detoxification for alcohol withdrawal symptoms, inpatient treatment may be recommended.

Intake Process

The first step of going into an outpatient alcohol treatment program is likely going to be the intake assessment. 

You’ll be asked questions about your alcohol use, how much you drink, how often you drink, and when your last drink was. This is simply to figure out if this is the right program for you and to come up with an individualized treatment plan.

You’ll also likely have a physical and take a drug test so the healthcare providers running the alcohol rehab center know about any underlying medical or mental health conditions.

Therapy & Education

After the intake process, you’ll likely be assigned a therapist for your individual therapy and schedule a time for group therapy. 

When going to these sessions, be prepared to talk about your emotions. Part of the program is finding the root of the addiction and that means examining your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

It’s also important to be open to learning. With therapy and substance abuse education, you have to be willing to learn about addiction and the disease of addiction as well as about yourself.

Twelve-step support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can also be a part of outpatient treatment and has helped many people with alcohol recovery. 

Different Levels Of Outpatient Treatment

There are several different levels of outpatient care. Which one is right for you all depends on your specific situation. The different levels include:

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) or day treatment is a type of outpatient treatment program for those who require a high level of care but don’t need to be monitored 24 hours a day. 

Patients receive medical and psychiatric support and are given a more structured setting. Altogether, it likely includes at least 20 hours of treatment a week including individual therapy, group therapy, and medical care. 

Standard Outpatient Programs

Standard outpatient programs involve going to treatment once or twice a week and mainly focuses on changing the behaviors that lead to substance abuse. There are very minimal, if any, medical services in this type of program.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are similar to PHPs but with less medical and clinical support. A patient attends for 9-20 hours per week depending on their needs. Treatment involves individual and/or group therapy spread over at least 3 days per week with 3-4 hour sessions. 

How long intensive outpatient treatment lasts depends on the patient’s progress but it tends to take about 1-3 months.

While therapy is likely the primary form of addiction treatment offered, medication management, employment assistance, and drug or alcohol testing can also be involved.

Besides sobriety, these intensive programs aim to:

  • improve problem-solving skills
  • change behaviors
  • manage cravings
  • develop a support system
  • address stressors like employment, housing, or legal issues

Types Of Therapy In Outpatient Rehab

The types of therapies used in outpatient addiction treatment facilities depend on what the program provides. 

Some of the most common types of therapy for alcohol use disorder include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on identifying and changing harmful thoughts and behaviors that have been learned over time. CBT teaches people to cope with triggers that lead to drinking and gives them new ways to cope. 

Contingency Management

Contingency Management (CM) is based on the idea that some of the rewarding parts of alcohol can be replaced with other types of rewards that encourage sobriety. Clients can receive vouchers for things they want in exchange for attending meetings, passing alcohol screenings, and going to treatment sessions.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a therapeutic approach where the therapist helps the person determine their own definition of both the problem and the solution. This is meant to help minimize any resistance the person might have to the recovery process.

Family Therapy

Family Therapy includes family members in sessions and encourages them to set up family rules that reinforce abstinence and discourage substance use

If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol abuse or addiction, call our helpline today to discover the appropriate substance abuse treatment options for you.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Types of Treatment Programs
National Library of Medicine - Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence
SAMHSA: Treatment Improvement Protocols - Intensive Outpatient Treatment and the Continuum of Care
SAMHSA: Treatment Improvement Protocols - Services in Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs

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