What Makes Alcohol Rehab and Detox Successful?
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Francine Mends, MD on May 20, 2020
Congrats on deciding to enter recovery! It’s not easy to recover from alcohol addiction. But it’s a decision that you’ll feel good about making for the rest of your life.
Now you’re on to the next part of your journey: choosing a treatment center that sets you up for success.
There are no 2 treatment programs that work for every person. That’s because all people with addiction have their own histories and needs.
Knowing that raises the stakes because you want to choose a center that will work for you.
You can choose the right treatment center by knowing what features are important to you.
You need a successful alcohol addiction program, so we’ve put together the ultimate guide for rehab success here.
This includes the most successful program types and treatment plans for alcohol addiction.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Programs
Inpatient and outpatient programs both have their uses, but inpatient rehab has a higher rate of success.
That’s because inpatient rehab offers:
- A safe environment where you can focus on treatment
- Access to medical care and symptom management 24/7
- Evidence-based treatment that has a history of working for alcohol addiction treatment
- Holistic activities such as yoga, animal therapy, or sound healing
- Routines that help create a sense of safety in a rehab environment
At inpatient treatment, people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) have a treatment-focused environment. That removes the stresses and temptations of daily life. This can be a gamechanger for many people with AUD.
Outpatient rehab is still a good choice for many people. Some people can’t quit working to go to rehab. Others have trouble getting childcare or other responsibilities.
For those people, outpatient rehab provides part-time treatment and flexibility to live at home.
In this type of program, you attend treatment part-time while living at home, working, and taking care of responsibilities.
For many people, outpatient is the only type of treatment they can access.
Residential programs are successful for AUD treatment, especially in complicated cases. If you have co-occurring disorders or you’re recovering from multiple substances, then residential could be a good choice for you.
These programs typically last up to 3 months, but they can last longer. You should stay in residence for the longest period that you can.
Residential treatment is similar to outpatient treatment, but with an approach that’s more intensive and successful.
Medical Detox Support
Medical detox is critical to AUD treatment success!
If you have a physical dependency on alcohol, then you could have adverse health effects if you stop drinking.
These can include:
- Mood changes
- Tremors (the “DTs”)
Medically-managed detox programs help manage and reduce these symptoms. It can be impossible to detox without medical help if you’re living with AUD. Detox support dramatically increases the success of your treatment.
Without treatment, severe alcohol withdrawal can cause coma and death. Never try to detox from alcohol without medical help.
Custom Treatment Plans
Cookie-cutter treatment plans simply don’t work for AUD. That’s because alcohol use disorder is complicated. Every person has different co-occurring disorders and other issues affecting treatment.
That’s why the best alcohol rehab programs offer custom treatment plans.
Look for rehabs that offer an assessment and custom treatment plan upon admission. They’ll interview you about your medical history and other relevant factors. Then, they’ll help you choose the best treatments for your case.
The best rehabs for AUD offer evidence-based treatment.
This means treatment that’s been studied in the past. We know the effects well, and we know that they’re effective.
Some examples include:
- 12 Steps: This is an iconic group that has a history with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
- Counseling: Different forms of counseling give you emotional support. They also offer you healthy coping methods.
- Group therapy: Healing in groups can be powerful. These support groups help you remember that you’re not alone. You’ll learn about the recovery experience firsthand.
- Medication: Sometimes AUD responds to treatments like naltrexone. These aren’t an option for everyone, but they can be useful.
Emotional Support and Outlets
It’s hard to go through recovery no matter where you are. In rehab, you might have limited contact with your loved ones. This is for the best during this time, and it won’t last forever.
Still, social support is an important part of recovery. People with AUD who rate their social support highly stay in recovery for longer.
That’s why the most successful treatment centers keep social aspects in recovery.
That might mean:
- Having a roommate
- Eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner in groups
- Attending scheduled activities
- Going to group therapy, AA, or 12 Steps
In many cases, treatment centers offer limited contact with loved ones. That can mean a weekly phone call or video call. Look forward to these sessions because they’re important in your recovery!
Aftercare in Recovery
The most effective treatment plans include aftercare.
Think about it: AUD is a lifelong disease.
You can’t go to the hospital for diabetes and then walk out without taking medication or going to the doctor to manage it ever again.
The same is true with AUD and other substance use disorders.
After treatment, you are not cured; you’re in recovery. People with substance use disorder (SUD) need a long-term chronic care plan the same as any other medical patient.
Choosing the right treatment center is very important, but it’s not the only factor in your recovery.
Your mindset contributes to the way your mind and body rebound from addiction.
Recovery needs commitment on your part, or it won’t work. You have to want to get better.
If you’re only doing this because a family member told you to, take some time to think about how your life would change for the better.
Would you be healthier without alcohol? Happier? Have better relationships? Would your life mean more without alcohol in it?
These thoughts are what you need to focus on during recovery. They’ll be your fuel when you’re low on energy in detox. And they’ll be your motivation when you can’t find it without alcohol.
Rehab provides you with counseling and therapy, but you can increase your success by going to rehab for the right reason.
- Effective Addiction Treatment. (February 4, 2013)
- 13 Components of Effective Treatment Programs. (February 13, 2020)
- How effective is addiction treatment? (January 2018)
- Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help (2014)
- 6 Tips for Finding a Good Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center (September 7, 2017)
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