Editorial Team

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3 “I Need Alcohol Addiction Treatment - What are My Options?”

The most critical point for an individual in the treatment process of alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the final acceptance of their desperate need for help. For many people, to actually come this point will have involved a drastic life-changing experience, eg. the loss of the home, job loss, divorce, a serious medical emergency, and so on.

This moment is often described as reaching “rock-bottom,” the realization that life will only get any worse, and likely end in death, if nothing is done.

For others, it can be something more minor, a kind of “last straw” scenario, where the realization process is far more gradual. If you are in the position where you want to end your cycle of alcohol abuse, your first port of call is to tell your family and friends that you need alcohol addiction treatment, as they will hopefully wish to help you.

1. Primary Care Doctor: The Consultation

Prior to contacting any alcohol rehabs or other addiction services, an alcoholic or problem drinker wanting treatment should visit their family physician – their primary source of care. It is crucial that the individual answers all of the doctor’s questions openly and honestly. It’s advisable to take a family member or a friend to this consultation.

The doctor will ask questions relating to alcohol drinking habits, perform a physical exam, and complete a psychological evaluation. The doctor may also request particular lab tests if it is believed the drinking is responsible for organ damage or other medical conditions.

They may recommend sources of addiction treatment, and the most appropriate types of treatment; for example, inpatient or outpatient. Lastly, it is likely the individual will be referred to a mental health professional for a further consultation.

2. What is an Inpatient / Residential Program (IP)?

An inpatient or residential program (IP), also called a rehab, is recommended for those with severe problems with drugs or alcohol. Being resident within an alcohol treatment facility that offers 24/7 care is significantly beneficial to those who need to avoid outside influences and the triggers of their previous (addicted) life.

IPs and can last anywhere between 28 days (normally the minimum length of stay) to a whole year or even more. These programs can then be followed up with less intensive treatment (if required).

IP treatment is highly structured, offers 3 integrated phases of recovery: detox, reflection, and growth, and focuses on all aspects of a patient’s addiction, including one-to-one therapy where relationships, lifestyle and psychological factors (related to personal history and situation) are discussed.

Advantages of IP

  • Residential programs are advantageous to those who have the flexibility to cope with the restrictions and the higher level of commitment needed.
  • Regardless of the length of stay, IPs are designed to prepare the individual for an abstinent life after treatment.
  • Residential facilities provide 24/7 care, usually in non-hospital settings. This can be exceptionally important for those also dealing with mental health issues and past trauma.
  • By living with other alcoholics, a “sense of belonging” and fraternity is encouraged.

3. What is an Outpatient Program (OP)?

Outpatient programs (OPs) involve a schedule of treatment, such as particular therapies, individual counseling, and group sessions at a certified medical clinic or a rehab facility; however, the patient continues to live at home while undergoing the treatment.

OPs follow a similar structure to an IP, and, if required, a professional detox can take place prior to the program starting, usually at another facility, before the patient begins their outpatient program. There are 3 types of outpatient program available, distinguished by intensity (how many hours per week are required for treatment):

  • Part Hospitalization Program (PHP)
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and
  • Outpatient Program (OP)

Advantages of OP

  • Patients attending these programs can continue to live in their own home, can continue with caring for children or dependents, and can continue their employment or education.
  • Treatment costs are significantly less than an IP. In fact, many healthcare insurance plans actually cover the cost of an outpatient program in full.
  • Scheduling / appointments can be made for evenings and weekends.
  • Some facilities can also treat outpatients who are also suffering from a mental health condition.

4. Sober Living Homes

5. Other Addiction Therapies and Services

For those who are unable to attend or commit to a structured professional treatment program, eg. IP or OP, there are a few alternatives available; however, it is important to remember there is a far greater success rate of long-term, sustainable recovery from alcohol use disorder (AUD) by undergoing evidence-based substance addiction treatment.

Mutual Aid Support Groups / Programs

Also known as peer-based recovery support or self-help groups, mutual aid support groups are free, peer-led (i.e., non-professional) organizations that can help individuals with substance use disorders. Examples of these support groups include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and SMART (Self-management And Recovery Training) Recovery.

Mutual-help organizations focus on social support – the communication and exchange of addiction and recovery experience and skills. There are 3 types of mutual aid support groups:

Addiction Recovery Coaching

A certified recovery coach can provide 24/7, intensive or casual recovery support to a newly-sober individual, offering coping tools, strategies and guidance on a more personal basis. This can include:

  • Forming a recovery action plan
  • Directing clients to resources
  • Assisting clients with healthcare options
  • Assisting with addictive behaviors
  • Act as a “sober companion” to help clients avoid relapse
  • Providing accountability and support


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