Outpatient Alcohol Treatment: A Comprehensive Guide to Recovery

In our society, so many people struggle with alcohol use dependency. And, feeling ashamed or hopeless, many of them do so in secret.

Tragically, in a short period of time, this disorder can devastate a person’s physical and mental well-being. It could lead to bankruptcy or hospitalization. It could even end a person’s life.

Therefore, if you believe that you or someone you love might be chemically dependent on alcohol, it’s vital to seek addiction treatment as soon as you can.

People can overcome AUD, but it is a powerful chronic disease. And, without the right behavioral therapies and other forms of treatment, the danger of a relapse can lurk constantly.

One form of AUD treatment is the inpatient kind, whereby people live for a period in a special community. At such a facility, patients join a supportive community, and round-the-clock supervision and care are available. That can be particularly helpful during the most difficult days of withdrawal.

Of course, for some people, staying at a treatment center would be extremely hard. Getting time off work, arranging childcare, and so forth might be beyond their means.

Fortunately, though, another type of substance abuse treatment is available: outpatient alcohol treatment.

As the name suggests, an outpatient treatment program involves non-residential services. People can schedule their sessions at times that are convenient for them. Thus, they can maintain their normal routines.

Outpatient alcohol treatment plans vary from person to person and from facility to facility. After a thorough evaluation, the specialists at a rehabilitation center will find the right combination of services for an individual.

Such a customized plan would suit that patient’s medical situation and lifestyle as well as the nature and severity of the addiction.

But what exactly is AUD? What types of outpatient services are possible? And what are the unique benefits of this type of treatment?

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

AUD is classified as a brain disorder, and it ranges from mild to severe. This medical condition impedes people’s capacity to resist alcohol or to stop consuming alcohol once they’ve started.

Indeed, patients with AUD will drink alcohol even if the consequences are drastic.

Common symptoms of AUD include the following:

  • Frequent and powerful alcohol cravings
  • The inability to reduce your alcohol consumption
  • Realizing that alcohol is harming your career, social life, or family life, yet drinking anyway
  • Drinking at dangerous times — when you’re about to drive or operate machinery, for example
  • Having to consume more alcohol, due to an increasing chemical tolerance, to feel buzzed or intoxicated
  • Going through withdrawal when you don’t drink for a certain period of time — feeling sweaty, achy, anxious, nauseated, or shaky

A number of factors can increase your risk for AUD. They include genetics, the state of your mental health, and your history of binge drinking.

Moreover, the younger you were when you started drinking, the higher your risk for AUD may be.

Keep in mind that the earlier you receive AUD treatment, the better your outcomes are likely to be. That’s because AUD progresses, and it’s easier to intervene when your body’s tolerance for and dependence on alcohol are lower.

Therefore, the withdrawal period is less physically and emotionally draining in the earlier AUD stages. And, if your AUD is treated early, relapses will be less likely to occur.

Outpatient Alcohol Treatment Options

Every time you visit your AUD outpatient treatment facility, you may receive one or more of the treatment methods below.


Therapy helps people understand what may have caused their addiction and what it’s done to their interpersonal relationships. It also helps people replace unhealthy attitudes and behaviors with helpful new ones.

In an alcohol treatment program, you might participate in individual or group therapy.

Prescription Medications

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) might be a tool in your recovery. That’s because prescription drugs like Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram can reduce alcohol’s intoxicating effects. In turn, your alcohol urges could be reduced.

Take Naltrexone, for example. When you drink alcohol, it activates certain areas of the brain that produce pleasurable sensations. Naltrexone, however, can block those brain regions, making drinking less satisfying. Subsequently, alcohol cravings should lessen.

12-Step Programs

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Al-Anon, and Alateen are all examples of another alcohol recovery method: the 12-step program. In a 12-step program, a group of people meet regularly to discuss their addictions.

In such a system, each group member submits to a higher power. Depending on an individual’s personal beliefs, that higher power might be God, the universe, or even the rest of the group.

The participants in a 12-step program will also make a list of the times they’ve wronged others. Then they’ll contact as many of those people as they can, attempting to make amends.

For sure, 12-step programs aren’t right for everyone. But many people obtain profound benefits from them: the support and wisdom of a caring group, for example, along with a strengthened resolve to fight their addiction.

Plus, many people appreciate the opportunity to help others as well as themselves along the path to sobriety.

Holistic Approaches

Finally, holistic lifestyle approaches can help people with AUD in a number of ways. They could include a more balanced diet, vigorous exercise, yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and even acupuncture.

Meditation and mindfulness are practices that help people become calmer and truly present in the moment. Mindful and meditative activities like sitting still and focusing on your breathing could allow you to put your thoughts and emotions into better perspective. As a result, you might have more control over your mind and thus your actions.

Exercise and nutrition, for their part, might not have a direct effect on fighting alcohol cravings. Even so, people with alcohol use disorder often neglect their physical health, and malnutrition is common among AUD patients.

By eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly, you could start to regain your physical strength. You could boost your immune system and energy levels. Likewise, you’d help your body repair any tissue or organ damage that your AUD caused. You might even counteract depression or moodiness as well.

Acupuncture, meanwhile, frequently provides relief for people who struggle with addiction. More scientific research is needed for a conclusive link between acupuncture and substance use disorder. But some patients find that the serenity and relief that acupuncture engenders make it easier to resist cravings.

With some or all of these approaches, you’d be in the best possible shape — mind, body, and spirit — to keep going on your sobriety journey.

Benefits of Outpatient Alcohol Treatment

Outpatient programs offer patients a number of advantages. First of all, it can be more cost-effective than residential treatment. As a result, you might be able to receive AUD care for a longer period of time.

On top of that, the outpatient approach provides real flexibility. It lets people work, spend time with loved ones, and maintain their typical routines while still receiving treatment.

For some patients, a normal schedule, the support of family and friends, and the comforts of home can improve rather than hinder treatment outcomes. They can bring about feelings of balance, reassurance, and serenity throughout a recovery. And some people who get outpatient AUD services even bring a friend or a loved one with them to their counseling sessions.

In addition, outpatient AUD treatment lets people practice what they’ve learned. That is, they can take the strategies and behavioral modifications they’ve reviewed and apply them to real-life situations. For instance, they might be able to drive right by a favorite pub without stopping in for a moment.

Furthermore, if anything doesn’t seem to be working, patients can tell their treatment specialists and make changes as necessary.

Choosing the Right Outpatient Treatment Program

When you’re looking for the right outpatient rehab service with the right level of care, you’ll probably want to do a little investigating first.

To begin, you could compile a list of facilities in your area. (Your doctor might be able to give you a full list of places.) Then you could narrow down those options according to criteria that are important to you.

Those factors might include the following:

  • The staff members’ training, certification, and years of experience
  • The healthcare insurance coverage and accepted insurance plans
  • The types of treatment and specific services offered

You could do some online research, call each place on your list, and even schedule in-person visits to find out which facility best meets your criteria.

During that search, here are some questions you could ask:

  • How is the scheduling handled? How flexible is it?
  • How many sessions per week do you require? And how many hours per session?
  • What is your success rate?
  • Could you provide patient testimonials or references?
  • Where do patients go once they’ve completed your program? Is there any follow-up care such as an ongoing support group?

It’s especially important to find a rehab center that provides personalized treatment.

When your care is tailored to your personal triggers, behaviors, thought patterns, personality, medical history, family history, and underlying addiction causes, your recovery should be smoother and more complete.

Overcoming Common Challenges in Outpatient Alcohol Treatment

Throughout the AUD recovery process, there will certainly be challenges to contend with. To start, many people face acute withdrawal symptoms, both physical and mental, during the detox stage.

Additionally, some people with AUD struggle when they have friends, roommates, or family members who still consume alcohol around them. The temptations can sometimes seem overwhelming.

A lack of insurance coverage and the simple stresses of daily life can be more taxing during the recovery process, too.

Not to mention, cravings can persist. For instance, if you go out to eat, you might feel a sudden urge to order an alcoholic drink. And it’s so easy to fool ourselves with thoughts like “I’ll just have one drink; it couldn’t do any harm.”

Also, once you begin counseling, you might experience intense emotions at times: regret, fear, grief, and so on. And such feelings can sometimes trigger AUD patients to drink alcohol.

In all of this, staying accountable and committed is the main challenge of substance abuse treatment. It’s also one of the main rewards.

In the end, you are capable of breaking an alcohol dependence. The right treatment will carry you through the detox stage. It will also recenter your life and position you for long-term success. In the process, you could rebuild your relationships and reclaim your physical and mental health.

For more information, you’re welcome to call the Long Island Treatment Center at any time. For anyone who’s struggling with AUD, the right choice is to seek help, and the right time is now.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Long Island Treatment Center