Why Treating Alcohol Dependence in an Outpatient Setting is Preferred


Most addiction treatment providers treat dependence on alcohol in an inpatient setting.

This may be the right setting for individuals who do not have a modicum of support at home, have an acute co-occurring medical condition, or actively suffering from delirium tremens or seizures.

However, acute withdrawal from alcohol can be safely treated in an outpatient setting. The Center For Network Therapy has detoxed hundreds of patients suffering from alcohol use disorders safely through the use of individualized treatment plans that is tailor-made based on the patient’s individual variables.


Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Detoxification

There are two main ways to treat an addiction to alcohol during the most acute, detox phase: inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient detoxification and rehab is the old way of treating dependence on alcohol. This was necessitated because there was a need to monitor patients 24 hours a day due to the risk of seizures and stroke during withdrawal.

However, with the advent of new medications, such risk has been sufficiently mitigated and it is more effective to detox and treat individuals suffering from a dependence on alcohol in an outpatient setting.

Outpatient detoxification and rehabilitation programs deliver better outcomes because they incorporate the patient’s living environment into treatment from day one of treatment. On the other hand, inpatient detoxification and rehab isolate the patient from their living environment and, instead, artificially creates an ideal environment for them to stay compliant with treatment and, therefore, sober. However, the patient’s home environment is not an “ideal” environment and is filled with stressors.

Obviously, inpatient treatment cannot incorporate the home environment into treatment. So all the therapeutic gains happen in a bubble and are usually out-of-touch with the real environment. When patients return home after treatment many find that they do not have the skills to cope with real life stressors and relapse.

Benefits of Outpatient Rehabilitation

Inpatient treatment models have failed to deliver optimal results. The outpatient treatment model for alcohol is preferable for these key reasons:

• Integrating Living Environment into Treatment – Therapy focuses on coping and relapse prevention skills, DBT, CBT, and MI are part of the therapeutic milieu. Such skills cannot be mastered if they are not practiced every day. Also, the patient goes back to the home environment every day and skills learned to work. So, they are able to bring back the issues they had while applying those skills and work through the barriers with the support of therapists. The continual process hones their skills and enables to apply learned relapse prevention and coping mechanisms in their real-life environment seamlessly. This leads to better sobriety rates post-treatment.

• Family Involvement – Oftentimes, family members drop-off and pick-up patients from the facility. Consequently, family members have greater interaction with the clinical staff and come to understand the detoxification and treatment process much better. Family sessions are also provided in order for the family to understand addiction and treatment better. This elevates the level of support the patient receives at home, helping them stay on the path to sobriety.

• Longer Length of Stay – Since outpatient or ambulatory detox and other lower levels of treatment are far less expensive than inpatient treatment, health insurance providers usually approve longer lengths of treatment – detoxification as well as other lower levels of treatment. The benefit to the patient is that longer lengths of stay in detoxification lead to minimization or total elimination of withdrawal symptoms and/or cravings. For example, health insurance providers usually approve no more than 6 days of stay in an inpatient setting for detoxification but allow 12-14 days of detoxification in an outpatient setting.

What Levels of Care can be Provided In an Outpatient Setting?

All levels of addiction treatment can be provided in an outpatient setting. Although a relatively new modality of care, outpatient detoxification is catching on among the treatment community because it delivers outstanding results at a lower cost. Lower, outpatient levels of care include Partial Care and IOP.

Why is Alcohol Withdrawal Dangerous?

Although alcohol appears to be a more benign substance relative to heroin or fentanyl, withdrawal from alcohol is far more dangerous than withdrawal from opiates. This is because alcohol withdrawal symptoms can lead to seizures, stroke or even death. Although the physical discomfort from opiate withdrawal is far worse, it is not as dangerous.

When Does Alcohol Become a Problem?

Alcohol is a commonly consumed beverage. However, for some people, it becomes a problem, and there is a genetic component to this. They are unable to stop consumption despite negative consequences. Alcohol use disrupts their work, home, and social life.

If you are looking for a safe alcohol treatment program, please contact us to ease your road to recovery. Call a treatment expert today if you or a loved one is experiencing issues with alcohol.


Related Articles

Set Yourself free from Alcohol Addiction

6 Reasons to Quit Harmful Substances Such as Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco

How to Choose Right Drug Treatment Center in New Jersey



In-network with:
Anthem BCBS
Beacon Health Options
Emblem BCBS
Empire BCBS
Horizon BCBS (EPO, HMO, PPO)
United Health/Optum/Oxford
Emblem GHI*


* If the QualCare logo is on the
insurance card