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Comparing Inpatient and Outpatient Alcohol Programs

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    When you're dealing with an alcohol problem and need treatment, you know it's important to have as many options as possible. Not every type of treatment works for everybody; some that may be quite effective for some people may not be the best fit for you. This also goes for the length of time you spend in treatment. Some people would do better in an intensive inpatient program, while others are fine with an outpatient alcohol treatment center.


    It can help if you're knowledgeable on the advantages and limitations of each type of program before you make a decision for yourself. The following describes what you may expect during both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.


    Inpatient Programs


    Inpatient treatment programs can last a month or longer, during which patients will check into a facility that specializes in substance abuse treatment. These facilities are often modeled in a comforting, safe environment.


    Recovering from alcohol abuse can be stressful, and participating in an inpatient program can help those with serious addiction issues to get sober and learn the tools needed during structured programs to stay alcohol-free after completing treatment.


    These programs can greatly benefit those who are likely to suffer from withdrawals. They may also be ideal for those who might relapse or become too stressed trying to get sober without a fully immersive, structured environment. Many people enter inpatient programs after they have tried outpatient therapy and decided that they needed more intensive care.


    Some people may be frightened or intimidated by the prospect of a lengthy time away from home participating in intensive therapies. It can be difficult to leave the comforts of home for an unfamiliar environment. They may feel isolated from family, friends and co-workers. However, the staff are very understanding and supportive of these fears, and will work to put patients at ease as quickly as possible.


    Outpatient Treatment


    Outpatient care can be much more informal than inpatient treatment, yet can still contain structure and discipline. Those who participate in outpatient care can learn much of the same tools for ongoing sobriety as those in immersive care, yet they are given the freedom to return home after each session.


    These programs are useful for those who need to go to work or have family duties and can't take so much time away from home. They can prevent attendees from becoming homesick and missing their support network of family and friends. However, in order to succeed they must be dedicated to their goal, since the temptations of alcohol will still be there once they've returned home.


    Even so, the skills learned during each session can help patients avoid alcohol use the longer they participate in an outpatient alcohol treatment program. Many participants experience success the first time they attend an outpatient program and may not even need additional treatment.


    It's best to discuss your situation with your family and your doctor before making a commitment to either an inpatient or an outpatient alcohol treatment center. Once you've decided on your course of action and you enter the program with the will to succeed, you stand a great chance of changing your life for the better.

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