What to Expect From an Outpatient Alcohol Detox

Out of the many challenges that recovering people inevitably face, the first ones they encounter are often the hardest. Not surprisingly, this includes the fear and discomfort associated with the detoxification process. Not to mention the temporary loss of freedom that inpatient detox has traditionally entailed. This is just one of the reasons that more and more people are opting for an outpatient alcohol detox when they finally decide it’s time to take action. So what is outpatient alcohol detox how exactly does it work? Read on to discover these questions and more.

How Does an Outpatient Alcohol Detox Work?

Outpatient detox clients usually report to a hospital or treatment facility five days a week, with both morning and evening sessions available. After a detailed health assessment– including the level of drinking and the severity of the client’s withdrawal symptoms, clients can start the detoxification process.

The frequency, nature, and duration of sessions tend to vary after that. If a facility offers therapy sessions during detox, clients might be in treatment for 2-3 hours a day. If not, sessions include little more than a physical checkup (including medication adjustments) and might only require clients to be at the facility for approximately 30 minutes a day.

An outpatient detox program can last anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks, depending on the amount of counseling offered.

In addition to monitoring a client’s physical and emotional health, the most important goals of outpatient alcohol detox are to:

  • Safely eliminate alcohol and any other dangerous substances from the patient’s body
  • Help manage any withdrawal symptoms, often with specialized replacement medications
  • Identify and start to treat any co-occurring mental health disorders
  • Locate and help initiate contact with the resources clients need for a successful transition into early recovery

As you probably noticed, the goals of an outpatient detox facility are identical to those pursued in the inpatient setting. However, there are important differences between the two types of alcohol detox as well. We’ll explore these in the next section.

Risks vs Benefits: Is An Outpatient Detox the Best Choice For You

Here are some of the most important benefits an outpatient detox can offer:

  • For clients with mild or moderate withdrawal symptoms, outpatient detox is just as safe as the old-fashioned inpatient version.
  • Outpatient detox clients get to sleep at home every night and are in a position where they can continue to fulfill their work, school, or family responsibilities.
  • Outpatient detox is substantially cheaper than inpatient detox.
  • Perhaps most importantly, clients can sometimes transition from outpatient detox to an actual treatment program. This continuity is key to getting your recovery off to the right kind of start.

Unfortunately, there are some risks involved in these programs as well. For one thing, some clients may benefit significantly from the immersive nature of inpatient programs. There’s also an increased chance for relapse for some outpatient clients. This is especially true for those who have unstable living situations. 

Outpatient alcohol detox isn’t for everyone. Your fitness for this kind of program depends on your personal situation. But don’t worry– you won’t be making this decision alone. You’ll have a dedicated care team on your side and they’ll help you make this important decision.

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