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By Boris M | 09 April, 2020 Published in Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
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People who are struggling with alcohol abuse and dependence are now presented with a wealth of resources, therapies and support groups for their addiction.

In terms of treatment, people battling alcohol addiction have two choices: inpatient or outpatient alcohol detox. The main difference between the two is that with inpatient detox, the individual will stay at the clinic for up to 30 days straight.

With outpatient alcohol detox, the patient would have to commute to the clinic on a daily basis and would be able to carry on with day-to-day life as normal.

With inpatient treatment, the patient stays at the clinic and is able to use the full capacity of the features that the clinic has to offer.

There are also differences in cost. Inpatient treatment does cost significantly more, but it is far more effective and safer than outpatient treatment. The outpatient treatment lasts longer – for 8-16 weeks, and they come in cycles.

Research has proven that although recovering in the community (outpatient rehab) does have its benefits, the patient who attends a private facility (inpatient rehab) have a higher chance of a successful and prolonged recovery.

Defining Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is a process where the patient checks into the clinic and lives there whilst they undergo the treatment for their alcohol addiction.

The treatment is done either in a wing of a clinic or in a separate complex. The patient agrees to put their lives on hold while they undergo the treatment, which can last anywhere from 10-90 days.

Inpatient treatment is a sort of a “time-out” to allow you to overcome your addiction, and eliminate toxins from the body. This sort of treatment is intensive and is effective for patients that really want to achieve results. Some may have tried outpatient treatment before and found it ineffective.

Inpatient treatment lets the patient focus solely on the treatment, without distractions or influences from the outside world. They will have access to various therapies and counselling sessions, as well as the option to address medical professionals.

Also, they will stay sober during the stay as they will have no external distractions that can make them relapse, as is a common occurrence with outpatient treatment.

Defining Outpatient Treatment

Detox clinics often offer outpatient options to those who can’t afford to enter inpatient treatment for various reasons. It might due to work, family, or due to financial restrictions. Nevertheless, the patient is given every chance and support to help them recover. This type of treatment is recommended to those whose lives are not as severely inhibited by the use of alcohol.

In an outpatient treatment programme, a patient is allowed to leave for home and come to the centre for sessions and therapies. It’s a fairly flexible scheme where the patient has the ability to choose when they come, although there are usually appointment times.

It’s a long-term, continuous programme where clients spend 6-20 hours weekly at the facility.

This form of treatment includes the ability to attend therapies, one-on-one sessions, the use of medications for detox and supervised care and support during detox, and other behavioural and cognitive therapies that aid the treatment. Such therapies include individual or group therapies, family counselling, CBT, and MET therapies.

The Process of Inpatient Treatment

This is how the inpatient treatment process looks, roughly. Of course, the treatment might be different from individual to individual.

The first step in recovery when you come to a clinic is a thorough check-up of your physical and mental state. Based on this, the course of treatment will be designed by the medical staff.

The first week or two will involve an alcohol detox, which is usually the toughest period. You will receive medication that will help you detox from alcohol but expect to experience withdrawal symptoms. These can be sometimes severe, but the medical staff will do their best to help you cope.

This varies from facility to facility; if you stay at the clinic longer, you will possibly have access to computers and phones.

Prepare yourself to not see your friends or family for several weeks. This doesn't mean complete isolation, as you'll participate in group activities and get to know other patients. But it's a chance to meet new people that will support you on your road to rehab.

Each individual will have their own therapies and can range. Some therapies, for example, are group therapies, counselling, individual sessions, family therapy, CBT sessions, and holistic approaches such as yoga and massages.

What are My Inpatient Treatment Options?

Based on your needs, you’ll be able to choose from the various inpatient options that clinics offer. Here are some of the more common ones.

1. Long term residential treatment

Programmes with this type of treatment can last anywhere from 60 to 90 days or even several months. You’ll get 24/7 support and care, as you will overcome your addiction.

In addition, you’ll enter a programme of social reprogramming, where you’ll be taught how to avoid self-destructive behaviours and leave a comfortable life in the society around you.

2. Short-term residential treatment

Short-term programmes focus on detox and introduction to therapies. The patient will stay at the clinic for up to 3 months. After the initial treatment, they will undergo outpatient treatment to complete the treatment cycle.

3. Sober living homes

Sober living homes are facilities where patients stay to stay sober. Individuals are expected to pay rent and maintain their therapies, and will also have jobs. The residents are not allowed to bring substances to the facilities, and they can stay in these homes for up to 2 years.

What Are My Outpatient Options?

With outpatient treatment, there are several options that will let you choose between the types of treatment. There are flexible programmes for everyone to choose from.

1. Partial hospitalisation programme

This type of programme is suitable for those who suffer from addictions and would like to commute to the centre.

The commuting can be done seven days a week, and these programmes focus on the overall treatment of the patient. You may continue to stay at home during treatment.

2. An intensive outpatient programme

IOP is a programme that is similar to an inpatient, intensive programme, but on a smaller scale.

The patient is expected to attend therapies and sessions throughout the week but may leave for work or school during the day. This programme is also relatively flexible, as the patient can stay at the facility for 6-30 hours on a weekly basis.

3. Traditional outpatient programme

This type of programme is a typical outpatient programme where the patient will usually return home after the treatment at the facility on a daily basis. While this is a good, flexible type of treatment, it’s also a double-edged sword.

When the client returns home, they are subject to the temptation that they might find in their surroundings. It is up to them to stay clean when they return home, which is sometimes tricky.

Where They Overlap

The ultimate goal of both treatments is to detox the patient and get them out of the addiction. How they go about this is slightly different, although some core principles still stay.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment work to make the patient stop drinking alcohol immediately and start the detox. Throughout the process, the staff will help and motivate every patient and enable them access to various coping strategies.

The goal of both is also to re-integrate the patient into normal society and get them back on track with their lives.

Other overlapping core principles of both treatments include:

  • Addiction is a treatable condition that affects the brain, but it is complex.
  • Every individual requires different treatments.
  • The patient should have instant access to the treatment and it should address all of the patient’s needs, not just the addiction.
  • It’s crucial to stay in treatment for long enough. For that, counselling and individual sessions can be crucial.
  • Medications present an important part of the treatment.
  • Treatments must be reviewed and should be aimed towards addressing the patient’s underlying mental disorders, too.
  • Medically-assisted detox is only the first stage.
  • Alcohol use should be monitored throughout the treatment closely.

The Pros & Cons of Each Option

When faced with such a life-altering decision as your recovery, it is important to weigh up all options, and prioritise your needs. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment options have good and bad sides, which will vary in importance from patient to patient.

Below, we have listed some of the most crucial elements to help you decide:

  • A stable environment where you will stay sober. There is no chance to relapse as you'll have minimal access to the outside world. This is why this type of treatment is recommended to heavy drinkers who can't abstain
  • Support and care from professional medical staff
  • Instant access to necessary medication
  • Group and individual therapies
  • More chances of success
  • A support network of people who can empathise
  • Nutritonal support and cooked meals daily
  • Access to holistic therapies and facilities at the centre (swimming, art studios, music rooms)
  • Family responsibilities and child care, or elderly patient care
  • Lack of availability for family
  • Absence from work
  • Limited access to the outside world
  • Lower costs
  • You can continue your work or family duties
  • You get the comfort of your own home
  • There are many distractions with this type of treatment, whether it is family, friends, or work
  • Temptations and the risk of relapse is high. With inpatient treatment, you simply don't have these temptations
  • No professional medical supervision
  • A longer wait for medications
  • Maintaining responsibilities that could hinder recovery (stress, anxiety to do with obligations)
  • Easier access to alcohol/ other substances
  • Having to look after yourself nutritionally/ emotionally

Questions to Ask Before Choosing Inpatient or Outpatient

Below we have listed some of the most common questions you should ask a specialist before deciding on your choice of treatment. These questions include:

  • Do you live in an environment that supports sobriety? Are there little to no temptations to relapse?
  • Do you have friends or family members around you who drink and have an influence on you?
  • Do you have friends or family who can support you during rehab at home?
  • Are you allowed to leave work or school for a prolonged period?
  • Do you have any physical or mental issues in addition to the addiction?
  • Are you able to commute to the clinic several days a week if you choose outpatient?
  • Does the clinic have accreditations?
  • What therapies does the clinic provide?
  • What is the goal of the programme?
  • What are the success rates of inpatient and outpatient treatments? Ask at the clinic.
  • Does the clinic offer ongoing support after treatment?
  • Can you afford the treatment?

Which Option is Right For You?


Which option you will choose ultimately depends on you. You’ll have to assess your current state and whether you can afford to go to inpatient treatment or not. These guidelines may help you decide:

  • Are you a heavy drinker who can’t abstain from alcohol? If yes, you need a detox and supervised care and inpatient treatment. If you do have some degree of self-control, you may try outpatient treatment first
  • If you’ve tried outpatient treatment before and it hasn’t worked, then it’s better to go to inpatient treatment
  • Which one can you currently afford?
  • If you can’t afford to lose your job or leave your family behind, then outpatient treatment might be better
  • If you the best possible chance at recovery, inpatient treatment is definitely for you

Ready to get help?

At Rehab 4 Addiction, we offer high-quality rehabilitation & detoxification services tailored to your individual needs.

To discover your road to recovery, call us today on 0800 140 4690.

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