Outpatient Alcohol Treatment Programs

For some people with alcohol addiction, outpatient alcohol treatment can be an effective means of treating their substance abuse. There are numerous possible reasons why someone might choose outpatient over inpatient treatment.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Outpatient alcohol treatment programs are available for people who cannot put a halt on their regular lives to seek treatment because of work, school, family obligations, or limited finances.

While not appropriate for all cases of alcohol abuse, day treatment and other forms of outpatient treatment options can help people with mild substance use disorders stay on the path of recovery. It has distinct advantages that place it as a great option over other alcohol treatment options.

Outpatient alcohol treatment may also serve as a stepdown form of care for inpatient alcohol rehab, or as continuing care for people who are dedicated to long-term recovery goals.

Why People Choose Outpatient Alcohol Treatment

There are numerous reasons why someone would choose outpatient care over an inpatient rehab center, however, convenience is one of the most common reasons.

Outpatient drug and alcohol treatment programs allow people to continue their lives without interruption or interference.

This can be especially important for someone who does not want to reveal to others, such as their employer, that they will be attending addiction treatment.

Benefits of an outpatient alcohol treatment facility include:

  • It is much less expensive than inpatient treatment.
  • You can still live at home while in treatment.
  • You have the ability to continue with school, work, or family obligations.
  • It offers more flexibility, as programs are often offered in the evenings or on weekends
  • Skills learned while in rehab can be immediately applied to your life.

It’s important to note that outpatient treatment plans may not be appropriate for everyone, largely because alcohol addiction can require medical care not offered in outpatient settings.

Withdrawal symptoms can be harrowing, severe, and even life-threatening. Side effects of alcohol and drug use can lead to health complications as well.

Speak to a health provider before selecting the treatment option that’s right for you.

Types Of Outpatient Treatment Programs For Alcohol Addiction

When it comes to outpatient treatment programs for alcohol addiction, you have a few different choices for the level of care you would like to receive.


Alcohol detox is typically not recommended for outpatient settings. However, in some cases, alcohol detoxification may be completed at home with the right amount of support.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHP), also known as day treatment, are the highest level of care that someone can receive for alcohol addiction outside of residential treatment.

Treatment in a PHP typically lasts four to six hours per session and meets three to five times per week.

Treatment services in a PHP program may include behavioral health care such as individual counseling, family counseling, group counseling, medication management, and medication-assisted treatment when recommended.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)

The next-highest level of care for alcohol addiction is an intensive outpatient program (IOP). A person in an IOP will likely attend treatment for around three to four hours each session and attend the program three to five times per week.

Intensive outpatient treatment usually includes individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and sometimes medication-assisted treatment if necessary.

Regular Outpatient Treatment

A regular outpatient rehab program for alcohol addiction will typically include one to two hours of therapy sessions, both group and individual, and meet once or twice per week.

Continuing Care Groups

Sobriety and recovery are long-term journeys that do not end simply because treatment is complete.

It is usually recommended that anyone who has completed an outpatient or inpatient program continues the recovery process in an aftercare support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Here, others in similar situations can offer support and guidance to each other as they navigate their new sober lifestyles.

Long-term care can be especially important for someone who has co-occurring disorders, or both alcohol abuse issues and a mental health disorder or secondary drug use issue.

Is Outpatient Alcohol Treatment Less Effective Than Inpatient Treatment?

It would be wrong to say that one type of treatment is more effective than the other, as they are simply designed with different intentions and for different purposes.

Inpatient rehab is more effective for people with severe alcoholism who need constant supervision and support in order to stay sober.

People who have severe withdrawal symptoms due to chronic, or long-term heavy alcohol use may need inpatient treatment to ensure their safety and comfort during recovery.

Inpatient alcohol rehab can also be best for people with an unstable home environment or who have frequent exposure in their lives to alcohol or other drugs.

Reasons why outpatient treatment may not be right for some people include:

  • There is a potentially higher risk for relapse as you will still be able to access substances during cravings.
  • You will only have access to support during open hours, not 24/7 like with inpatient treatment.
  • You do not have medical supervision or medications to assist during detox and withdrawal.
  • It requires the ability to commute to a treatment center multiple times per week.

Find Quality Alcohol Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you have questions about outpatient services and alcohol treatment, or need advice for yourself or a loved one, please do not hesitate to call us at Bedrock Recovery Center.

It is never too late to get started on your road to recovery — give us a call today.

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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