Outpatient Alcohol Addiction Treatment
For some people addicted to alcohol, it may be impossible to attend residential rehabilitation (rehab) on an inpatient basis: unfortunately, many outpatient alcohol addiction treatment options are available at facilities operating across the UK.
What is Outpatient Alcohol Addiction Treatment?
As the terminology implies, outpatient alcohol addiction treatment is the treatment of alcohol addiction on an outpatient basis. Some residential rehabilitation (rehab) facilities and organisations offer treatment on both an inpatient and outpatient basis, and each of these approaches has its own pros and cons. While inpatient treatment involves addicts staying in the facility (typically for between 30 and 90 days) 24/7, outpatient treatment sees clients receive less intensive treatment, attending regular appointments on site – daily or for a few hours each week – whilst carrying out other elements of their treatment plan independently.
Because outpatient treatment is less intensive than inpatient options, and consist of fewer treatment hours each week, outpatient programmes typically last significantly longer than inpatient treatment – frequently up to several months, and not uncommonly stretching out over a year or more.
It is important to note that whether carried out on an inpatient or outpatient basis, alcohol addiction treatment should not be thought of as a permanent cure for alcoholism. Treatment can certainly result in abstinence; however, maintaining recovery achieved through treatment is a long-term – often lifelong – process which requires addicts to steer a course between innumerable potential pitfalls and temptations. On the other hand, alcohol addiction treatment – whether provided in an outpatient setting or in any other environment – can create the basis for permanent recovery, as well as giving an addict the defence mechanisms and coping strategies which they will need in order to survive and thrive in an alcohol-free life.
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What Happens in Outpatient Addiction Rehab?
Every alcohol addict’s treatment journey is unique, and one facility’s approach to treatment may differ – slightly or significantly – from another’s.
It is important to recognise that there is no one single path through outpatient addiction treatment; however, various commonalities may be found between facilities and treatment programmes.
Detox is an indispensable element of alcohol addiction treatment, as no addict can benefit from any further treatment if they continue to struggle with alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse. During detox, an alcohol addict’s system is cleansed of alcohol and all other substances of abuse; this needs to take place before the addict in question is able to get the benefits from therapy and any other components of the treatment program. Because alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous and even deadly, it is absolutely vital that an alcohol addict does not attempt to go through detox and withdrawal independently; medical professionals need to manage and monitor the process for the addict’s safety.
For this reason, it is not uncommon even in outpatient treatment programmes for some addicts to reside in the facility during the most critical phase of detox and withdrawal, whilst for others very regular and frequent appointments for checkups, measurement of vital signs etc are a crucial element of the detox phase.
Group therapy features a number of addicts (usually between three and a dozen) in treatment coming together in a therapy environment to interact with and learn from each other, sharing advice and experiences and give each other new and different perspectives on particularly challenging situations which have affected them. In this way group therapy participants can help shape and improve each other’s worldview, and address the challenging thoughts and behaviours which have resulted in alcohol abuse and addiction.
Individual assessments and therapy
As well as group therapy, a good deal of the therapy provided as part of alcohol addiction treatment plans – whether on an inpatient or outpatient basis – is given in one-to-one settings. Individual therapists can work with addicts across a series of appointments – in the case of outpatient treatment, potentially over several months or even longer – using any of a huge range of different therapy models; it is possible that a given addict will wish to experiment with a number of different approaches before deciding on the therapy structure which works best for them.
Mental health therapy groups
Many of the people who attend rehab for alcohol addiction treatment also suffer the same time from other mental health disorders, which can significantly complicate and interfere with treatment. As a result, therapy provided in rehab does not only address alcohol addiction specifically: various therapy groups can be created to address mental health issues and how they relate to alcohol use and abuse. Group attendees provide each other with support and learning opportunities, and investigating how particular mental health disorders both drive and result from addiction, and how to navigate around these challenges during treatment and recovery.
Medication assisted detox
Although there is no true pharmaceutical cure for alcoholism, medication can certainly play a very significant role in alcohol addiction treatment. Some medications can be provided ahead of, or during, detox which either reduce alcohol cravings or disincentivise alcohol consumption through various means in order to reduce alcohol consumption and abuse to more manageable levels, making detox safer and therapy easier. As alcohol withdrawal can be fatal, medication also plays an important role during detox and in particular during the critical phases of withdrawal when it can be literally life-saving, alleviating some of the more dangerous and difficult symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
Wellness and fitness activities
The philosophy of “healthy body, healthy mind” is key to addiction treatment and many treatment facilities offer a broad range of wellness and fitness activities. A significant proportion of alcohol addicts suffer pronounce physical deterioration as a result of their alcohol abuse and addiction; structured fitness programmes (which may include regular activity in the gym, running, swimming and potentially a huge number of other forms of exercise) can both improve fitness and general health and contribute to enhanced self-esteem, as addicts begin to achieve and surpass fitness goals established as part of their treatment programmes, and are able to enjoy an overall improvement in health and potentially in physical appearance.
Family programme participation
The role of the family in addiction treatment and recovery is often underestimated: family members can be indispensable in the recovery from addiction, providing invaluable love and support at challenging times. Meanwhile, family members can themselves often benefit from therapy and other forms of treatment, having suffered potentially very serious emotional and psychological harm as a result of their loved one’s addictive behaviour and its consequences. Some treatment centres provide family therapy programmes (in which family members are invited to become involved but are not obliged to do so) designed to repair some of the damage addiction has caused, and to show family members how they can play the best possible role in the ongoing recovery of their loved one.
Physical fitness is not the only aspect of health and well-being which is typically neglected as a result of addiction: poor nutrition is a very common consequence of alcoholism, and addicts entering into treatment frequently require a general overhaul of their diets in order to re-familiarise them with healthy eating. Bespoke dietary plans aim to improve addicts’ general health, with the emphasis on a balanced diet and healthy ingredients, in meals which they may be able to learn to prepare for themselves once they leave treatment.
For some alcohol addicts, spiritual matters are an essential component of their overall well-being and therefore of their addiction treatment. Many treatment centres place significant on spiritual well-being, providing on-site spiritual care for clients; individuals in outpatient treatment may be encouraged to attend meetings and activities such as prayer sessions at their treatment facility, and also to engage in regular spiritual activity outside the centre on an independent basis.
Educational and experiential workshops
Quality treatment facilities always bear in mind the need to prepare the addict for life after the end of treatment in more ways than simply facilitating sobriety. Some centres provide educational workshops designed to give addicts new and valuable skills which they can take forward into life outside treatment, either as pure recreation or, possibly, as a livelihood. Moreover the learning process itself a positive force, boosting self-esteem and giving addicts a sense of purpose and worth which may previously have been lacking. Some facilities will also provide experiential workshops as part of a formalised experiential therapy plan.
Continuing care planning
Continuing care – more commonly known as aftercare – is ongoing treatment provided following the conclusion of an addiction treatment programme, during the initial phases of recovery. Quality treatment facilities typically offer up to a year’s free aftercare, featuring regular appointments and checkups at the treatment facility, and a structured programme of commitments (which may include participation in support groups and engagement in counselling) aimed at optimising the chances of a successful and permanent recovery.
Therapy Types in Outpatient Addiction Rehab
Therapy forms the core of addiction treatment, and a great number of different therapy models and approaches have been deployed in treating addiction.
Any given treatment centre can only offer a limited range of these different methodologies, and some patients enrolling in rehab choose specific facilities based on therapy models they offer.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
ACT is a form of clinical behaviour analysis and counselling using a range of different acceptance and mindfulness strategies, in conjunction with techniques for commitment and behavioural change, in order to develop and increase psychological flexibility. Rather than seeking to remove problematic or challenging emotions and thoughts, ACT helps clients to become receptive to these unpleasant sensations and to develop techniques to manage them, so that they are not obliged to avoid situations in which they may occur.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
Of all the different therapy models typically provided in rehab environments, CBT is probably the one with which most people are most familiar. CBT seeks to improve overall mental health by addressing and remediating negative and problematic behaviours and thought processes, and to help clients improve their emotional regulation and develop coping strategies designed to tackle specific problems. Therapists engage with clients to discover and develop the most effective mechanisms for handling triggers and other challenges associated with addiction, and give new skills for information-processing which can make the addict significantly better suited for life after the conclusion of a treatment programme.
Contingency management/motivational incentives
Contingency management (CM), frequently known as motivational incentives, is an opera conditioning-based also called instrumental conditioning) approach to behavioural therapy in which certain behaviours are conditioned through the use of positive reinforcement or, less commonly, punishment. In addiction treatment, an adherence to required behaviours (for example, passing sobriety tests) can result in awards being given to client (which may be financial in nature but are more usually privilege-based); meanwhile, a failure to adhere to those requirements can lead to the imposition of punishment (again, typically privilege-based).
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is an attachment-focused approach to therapy founded on the value of finding resolution to interpersonal challenges, and the principal that relationships and life effects can affect mood and vice versa. IPT gives clients improved interpersonal and communication skills which they can apply within relationships and enables them to build important social support networks to which they can turn to help if they face difficult challenges during recovery.
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)
DBT is a modified interpretation of standard cognitive behavioural techniques which incorporates concepts such as distress tolerance, mindfulness and acceptance derived from Buddhist meditative practices. DBT aims to help the client to define, and thence to achieve, “a life worth living”.
Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is the use of therapy alongside the provision of certain medications used in the treatment of addiction. In the case of alcohol addiction specifically, some key medications are only effective when taken in conjunction with therapy.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) uses standard cognitive behavioural therapy methods in conjunction with mindfulness and various other meditative practices. MBT was originally designed as a relapse-prevention methodology, and is considered particularly effective in helping to reduce cravings.
Motivational enhancement therapy (MET)
Motivational enhancement therapy analyses client sessions through motivational interviewing in order to give clients the maximum possible information on which they can base a healthier focus for life than alcohol abuse and addiction. MBT seeks to foment internal change, creating a more optimal basis for recovery, rather than to guide clients through recovery itself.
Motivational interviewing (MI)
Motivational interviewing is a non-judgemental, non-adversarial and client-centred counselling approach which seeks to develop behavioural change via the investigation, exploration and autonomic resolution of ambivalence. Therapists take a directive role during motivational interviewing, as opposed to trying to encourage clients to come to their own conclusions regarding problematic situations, which is the case in some other common therapeutic approaches.
Psychoeducational group therapy founded on established cognitive behavioural principles and is intended to educate clients about the causes and psychological significance of their alcohol use disorders, and to provide them with viable coping strategies. Psychoeducational group discussions cover various topics including realistic thinking, exposure to triggers, skills training, and relapse prevention.
Solution-focused brief therapy/solution-focused therapy
Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) is a goal-directed therapy model focusing on solutions as opposed to than problems. Clients undergoing SFBT are encouraged to question some of the solutions which they may have previously applied unsuccessfully to challenging life situations, and to analyse why those solutions were not successful, prior to working on new and more effective solutions.
Twelve-step facilitation therapy seeks to improve the likelihood that alcoholics will become actively engaged with 12-step organisations such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Twelve-step facilitation enables addicts to become familiar with AA’s twelve-step methodology and starts to shape their outlook accordingly prior to joining a group such as AA.
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Who is Outpatient Treatment Suitable For?
Outpatient treatment is not appropriate in every case of alcohol addiction. For some people, their condition may simply be too severe for them not to require hospitalisation and constant medical attention; for others, the temptations which go along with life outside a treatment facility can simply be too strong to resist.
However, for some individuals who are deemed in a significantly good condition not to require 24/7 care, and who are assessed as having the psychological capacity to resist relapse in the outside world (potentially with the help of medication) outpatient treatment may be an option. This is especially appropriate for any addict who wishes to go into treatment but cannot or does not wish to take the time out from family and/or professional obligations which an inpatient stay would require. Some living relatively close to the facility, who can attend all the necessary appointments and who has the capacity to resist relapse whilst working independently upon other elements of the treatment programme may find outpatient treatment to be the best possible course of action.
Factors that Play a Role in Treatment During Inpatient Rehab Programmes
A number of different factors can affect how treatment is delivered in rehab environment, and which treatment centres specifically may be most appropriate in particular cases.
The age of an addict can impact many aspects of treatment, such as the treatment environment itself, the nature of any medication provided, and the age of other clients being treated in the same facility. Some age-specific alcohol addiction treatment centres – including some facilities dedicated to treating teens and young people – can now be found throughout the country.
When a mental health issue cooccurs alongside a substance use disorder including alcoholism, the condition is known as dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis is extremely common in cases of alcohol addiction, and can make treatment vastly more complicated than it would otherwise be, as each issue needs to be treated simultaneously but each can interfere with the treatment of the other; specialist care in cases of dual diagnosis is almost inevitably required.
An alcohol addict’s medical history affects any treatment they may receive for their addiction, sometimes very significantly; for instance, they may suffer from any of a number of conditions which could make the administration of certain medication dangerous.
Relationship with alcohol
The more severe someone’s alcohol addiction – i.e., the greater the quantities they drink and the longer the duration of the addiction – the more challenging and dangerous the treatment; this is especially the case with regard to detox and withdrawal, with more dangerous withdrawal symptoms potentially manifesting in severe cases.
Substance abuse and multiple addictions
Polydrug use and addiction can make treatment of alcoholism more complicated. Multiple addictions must be treated simultaneously in order for the pressures of one addiction not to undermine any gains made in the treatment of another; however some medication which might typically be prescribed to treat one addiction could have potentially dangerous interactions with another substance abuse, while withdrawing from more than one substance at the same time (especially alcohol) is much more dangerous than withdrawal from only one substance
An alcohol addict’s belief system can play a very significant role in how they approach treatment, including potentially determining which treatment centres they consider. For instance an individual who does not believe in a higher power may find it difficult to commit fully to twelve-step programs in which one of the steps is an acceptance that such a higher power can help the alcoholic overcome their addiction.
Advantages of Outpatient over Inpatient Programmes
Outpatient treatment can be significantly more flexible than inpatient programmes, thus appealing to individuals with very busy lives who do not wish to take themselves fully out of daily life for a period of weeks or months as would be required in the case of an inpatient stay. Addicts with significant responsibilities may find outpatient treatment much more aligned with those responsibilities.
For some people the love and support of family is absolutely critical, and these people may prefer to spend their nights in the comfort and security of the home environment rather than in a treatment centre which may feel alien and disconcerting to them (regardless of how attractive and pleasant it may be).
Some patients may already have access to many of the components of a holistic treatment programme (such as a gym or other exercise facilities, high-quality nutritious food etc) and may feel more confident carrying out various elements of that treatment programme in familiar settings.
Because it is significantly less intensive than inpatient treatment, and because it does not involve overnight accommodation, outpatient treatment is also usually substantially less expensive than inpatient options.
How Long Does Outpatient Alcohol Rehab Take?
Outpatient treatment typically lasts a lot longer than more intensive inpatient care, with some treatment plans lasting several months or even a year or more, depending on the severity of the addiction and the specific components of the treatment programmes in question. However, it is important to recognise that although outpatient treatment itself may have a set duration, recovery is a much longer-term process potentially lasting the rest of the addict’s life and requiring constant dedication and hard work in order to be maintained.
How Much Does Outpatient Addiction Treatment Cost?
Treatment costs vary substantially from one treatment centre and organisation to the next, depending on factors including the nature of the facility in question, the type of treatment provided and any optional extras requested. If you are interested in outpatient addiction treatment and wish to discuss specific costs, contact an addiction specialist who can talk to you about the facilities in which you may be interested and any other treatment options which may be appropriate for you.
Outpatient Alcohol Addiction Treatment and Rehab Success Rates
Establishing firm success rates for alcohol addiction treatment facilities can be a somewhat futile task since many addicts who enter recovery following treatment do not keep in touch with facilities and do not report back on their progress at significant milestones. However it is obvious that success rates between facilities do vary significantly.
In 2012 a report published by the NHS’ National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse put the success rates achieved by the best-performing private addiction treatment facilities in the UK at between 60% and 80%, in terms of the proportion of clients going through treatment and remaining abstinent after a five-year period following the end of the treatment programme. On the other hand, the worst-performing treatment centres were only able to achieve five-year success rates of less than 20%.
<,p>If you are considering engaging in alcohol addiction treatment on either an inpatient or outpatient basis, be sure to ask for success rates for any programmes and treatment centres that interest you – and contact an addiction specialist to find out which facilities enjoy the best performance records.
Questions to Ask Outpatient Alcohol Rehab Treatment Centres
If you are considering outpatient alcohol addiction treatment the more research you can do in advance of committing to a treatment programme, the greater the likelihood that the programme will accord with your own requirements and desires. Some questions you should ask facility staff include:
- Is the programme licensed and accredited?
- What certification can you see which can prove that the centre is fully approved?
- How long is the programme?
- Are different lengths and/or schedules of treatment programme available which may be more suitable for you?
- If you feel you are making especially rapid progress – or, on the other hand, that you are not advancing as quickly as you would like through treatment, can you change programmes halfway through?
- Does the programme offer specific types of therapy?
- Can you try different therapy models before settling on the structure which you feel benefits you the most?
- What are the programme’s success rates one year, five years and 10 years after treatment?
- What evidence of this success can you see? Does the centre have testimonials from clients who have completed treatment?
- Will your treatment specialist help transition you into ongoing maintenance programs after completing rehab?
- What type of programs are available? Can you be shown any evidence of success?
- Does the facility accept insurance or offer other options for financial assistance?
- How flexible are payment terms?
- If insurance does not cover addiction treatment, is credit available?
- Are inpatients able to contact loved ones if a stay is required (phone call, email, social media)?
- What is the framework within which visits take place?
- Are loved ones able – or even expected – to engage in therapy?
- What types of medical specialists are available?
- Can you see evidence of their success?
- What experience do they have of treating situations similar to yours?
Outpatient Alcohol Addiction Treatment & Health Insurance
Treating alcohol addiction privately can be costly – but in many instances this cost is covered by private health insurance.
However it is important to recognise that not all health insurance covers every type of alcohol addiction treatment: if you are uncertain whether or not your own policy covers outpatient alcohol addiction treatment, check your policy as carefully as possible and contact your provider to confirm in writing exactly what is and is not covered, and to establish a timeline over which payment will be made.
Get in touch with an addiction specialist to find out more about health insurance coverage for alcohol addiction treatment.
Outpatient Alcohol Treatment and Rehab Facts and Statistics
- Worldwide, around 3.3 million deaths per year (slightly less than 6% of all human deaths) are due to alcohol, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
- As far back as 2003, the UK’s Cabinet Office put the total cost of alcohol abuse to UK plc at between £18 and £20 billion each year.
- Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has over 2 million members worldwide.
- WHO estimates that more than 200 million people around the world currently suffer from alcoholism: more than 4% of human beings aged 15 and above.
- Just under 600,000 alcohol dependent British adults currently require specialist treatment, according to a report by the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS). In 2017/8, 75,787 people in the UK were receiving treatment for alcohol addiction as a standalone condition.
Get Help Today
Alcoholism can be a fatal condition, and the longer you struggle under its burden, the greater the likelihood that it will claim your life in the end – and even before that, it can devastate the most treasured relationships and destroy hopes and dreams.
If you are ready to seek help, the sooner you can reach out for that help the sooner you can start receiving it – so pick up the phone today and get in touch with your GP and/or an addiction specialist to discuss your situation and to find out about alcohol addiction treatment options which might be suitable for you.
Take control of your life – get started on the road to recovery
Alcoholism is a notoriously challenging and profound addiction and you may feel as though you have lost control of your life to drink. However, you can take back control by enrolling in a treatment programme: pick up the phone today to find out about treatment options available to you, and take first steps on the path back to a healthy and happy life.
Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.
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