Why is Outpatient Treatment for Alcohol Dependence a Better Choice?

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On the surface, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs to address dependence on drugs or alcohol look similar-they both utilize medication to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and minimize craving and provide group and individual therapy to help the client make the necessary lifestyle changes. However, outpatient programs usually deliver better outcomes as they focus on helping the patient remain sober in his/her own home environment as opposed to being isolated from it in an inpatient setting.

Inpatient detoxification and rehabilitation programs to treat dependence on drugs and alcohol has been around for decades. Outpatient detoxification to treat dependence on alcohol and drugs, on the other hand, is an emerging treatment modality. However, it is catching on rapidly, as it usually delivers better outcomes.

When individual checks in for treatment at an inpatient facility, they first receive detoxification services. In this phase, patients are administered an array of medications to address withdrawal symptoms so that they become physically comfortable. Group and individual therapy are provided to help with effecting the lifestyle changes necessary. Patients are also exposed to self-help groups like AA or NA so that they can begin the process of finding a sponsor.

In Ambulatory or outpatient detoxification also, an array of medications is administered to make the patient physically comfortable in the detoxification phase of treatment. In conjunction with medication assistance, individual and group therapy is provided so help move the patient from pre-contemplation to contemplation phase. Then relapse prevention techniques and coping skills are taught as part of a toolkit the patients can utilize to stay sober in their own living environment after treatment. In addition, outpatient detox programs, usually involve the family in treatment. Family members drop patients at the facility for treatment or pick them after the day is over, giving them an opportunity to interact with caregivers and understand the progress their loved one is making. Also, oftentimes, loved ones are brought in for family sessions where one of many things could happen: learning about the chronic nature of the disease of addiction, conflict resolution, learning skills to increase support for the patient, etc. The patient is also able to go home at the end of each day and put to practice skills and strategies that he/she learned in treatment and come back the next day to process what worked and they had to struggle with. The learning that happens in treatment is tested in the home environment every day.

Given the above, it is easy to see why outpatient detoxification and treatment is a much better alternative for many patients. Of course, the argument could be made that outpatient increases the risk of relapse while in treatment. A few patients do relapse, but it is safer to relapse while having access to treatment resources available so that relapse prevention learning can happen in real time. Outpatient programs are an incredible option for patients who do not have an acute medical condition that requires 24-hour medical monitoring. They also provide the convenience of spending quality time with their families every day and the ability to be in the loop with the workflow at their job.

Ambulatory, or outpatient detoxification and treatment for alcohol or drugs in NJ has been delivering better results relative to inpatient treatment and it is easy to see why. Outpatient alcohol rehab programs include detoxification, partial care and intensive outpatient (IOP) levels of care.

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