Choosing the Right Rehab for Alcoholism
How Do I Choose the Right Rehab for Alcoholism?
People who misuse alcohol to the extent that they cannot control their alcohol consumption, despite the negative consequences may be diagnosed with an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). 8 Research has shown that rehabilitation treatment can be very effective in helping individuals maintain a life of sobriety.2
According to NIAAA, about a third of people who successfully complete a rehabilitation program show no further symptoms 1 year later and have fewer alcohol-related problems. When it comes to selecting a treatment setting, it is important to familiarize yourself with the available options, such as:
- Inpatient – Patients live in the facility full-time, and it is typically a 30-day, 60-day, or 90-day program. In an inpatient facility you have medical supervision and participate in behavioral and other therapies during the day.3
- Extended Care or Long-term Rehab – A form of inpatient rehab that is also residential, and is unique for its longer length of stay (typically between 6 and 12 months, depending on the program).2
- Outpatient – Rehab where the patient, in some cases, may attend 3 to 6 hours per day, participate in group, family, and/or individual therapy. Patients typically go home when not in treatment and are able to work or go to school.3, 1
It is recommended to reach out to a facility directly to get more information about accreditation, treatment approach, or length of stay.
Determine Your Rehab Goals and Needs
Treatment for alcohol misuse is most effective when it addresses multiple facets of a person’s life, including their physical and mental health, family relationships, occupational functioning, social functioning, and any legal problems.2 A major focus of behavioral treatment for alcohol misuse is goal-setting—working with a professional to consider each of these factors and determine what you want to change.3 Many people enter treatment with the goal of total abstinence from all substances, or to develop skills to prevent relapse.2
When setting goals in alcohol rehab, it may be helpful to use the SMART goals format.5
SMART is an acronym for:6
- Specific: What do you want to accomplish?
- Measurable: How will you know when you have accomplished your goal?
- Achievable: How will you accomplish your goal?
- Realistic: Can you accomplish your goal with the resources that you have?
- Timed: When will you have successfully accomplished your goal?
Factors to Consider When Choosing A Rehab Facility
Once you have considered your needs, preferences, and goals for treatment, it may be time to choose a rehab facility. Be sure to consider other important factors such as:
- Inpatient vs. outpatient.
- Treatments and therapies.
- Financial cost.
- Length of treatment.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient
Inpatient rehab treatment can be highly successful, and treatment duration of 90 days or more is associated with positive outcomes in maintaining abstinence from substance abuse.2 However, inpatient rehab may also be more expensive depending on the facility and length of stay.3 Many treatment programs are covered by insurance and in some cases, there may be payment options or assistance available.
Outpatient rehab is typically a day program, in which participants are in treatment for a few hours per day and go home at night.3 Some outpatient rehab programs might have flexible hours, such as evening or weekend sessions, to accommodate participants’ work or family commitments. This may be a good option for those with milder addictions but maybe a less optimal choice for those with serious, long-term addictions or for those with dual diagnosis conditions. 2
Many alcohol rehab facilities offer follow-up programs, such as 12-step meetings or other support groups, to assist patients as they return to their daily lives. Alcoholics Anonymous is a 12-step model where people in various stages of recovery come together to provide mutual support and discussion.2
Because recovery is a life-long process people often stay in Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-step groups long after they have completed treatment for additional support and to find community with others.2
Treatments and Therapies
Behavioral counseling and peer support are common treatment elements across rehab facilities. In recent years, some rehabs have started including Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Medications may help to manage withdrawal symptoms, discourage or replace substance use, or treat underlying mental health problems as part of treatment.6
Addiction is a complex disease that has an impact on the brain’s structure and function.2 Utilizing MAT in conjunction with behavioral counseling is part of a “whole-person” approach to treating substance abuse, by addressing both the physiological and psychological needs of the patient.7
Some treatment centers might be considered “luxury rehabs,” and include certain amenities, such as yoga classes, massage therapy, gyms or other fitness activities, and a desirable location. While including these activities may be beneficial to your overall wellness, these additional comforts may also come at a higher cost.
Depending on your situation, you may benefit from choosing a rehab program close to home, or getting some distance may be a better option. You may choose to stay close to home to have family support nearby.2 Others may desire to get away from their neighborhood, as people, places, and things can trigger a relapse in early recovery.2
Length of Treatment
Length of treatment can vary between settings and programs. For example, inpatient rehab is generally a 30-day, 60-day, or 90-day program. Outpatient rehab may have a shorter duration. Many programs are taking a more individualized approach in recent years, working with patients to create an individual care plan that meets their unique needs, rather than prescribing a fixed treatment duration.6
Find a Rehab Facility Near Me
The first step on your recovery journey is deciding to pursue treatment. By taking the time to think through your needs, goals, and preferences, you are already on the path to making life-long changes. By contacting an addiction helpline today, you can find out more information about rehab and find an option that is right for you.3
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021, October 25). Find Help: ATOD.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2021, August). Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help.
- American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2015, May 13). What are the ASAM levels of care?.
- American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. (2017, August 14). Goal Setting and Action Planning for Health Behavior Change.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2008). A Guide to Substance Abuse Services for Primary Care Clinicians.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021, October 13). Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5, Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.