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How Does Outpatient Rehab Work?

What is outpatient alcohol rehab, and who could benefit from outpatient rehab treatment? Read on to learn more about rehab at San Diego Detox.

What Is Outpatient Alcohol Rehab?

One of the best treatments for alcohol use disorder is a rehabilitation program. Many people think of alcohol rehab and envision inpatient rehab, where a person lives at the rehabilitation facility while receiving treatment. However, another option allows people to get treatment while also working and maintaining other responsibilities in life: outpatient alcohol rehab.

So, what is outpatient rehab for alcohol? Outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse offers treatment in the form of medication, therapy, and other activities while also allowing you to return home. Some outpatient programs only require visits once or twice a week, while others require you to stay from 4-6 hours each day.

Who Would Benefit From Outpatient Rehab?

Anyone with an alcohol use disorder seeking treatment can benefit from outpatient rehab, but it’s beneficial for people who want to continue working and living their lives while also receiving treatment. It can also be a good option for people who are exiting inpatient treatment but need time to transition into their normal daily life.1

Types of Outpatient Alcohol Rehab Programs

If you’re seeking outpatient rehab for alcohol addiction, you generally have three options. Outpatient alcohol treatment programs will be detailed below.

Standard Outpatient Programs

In standard outpatient alcohol treatment, you attend group therapy and/or individual counseling sessions once or twice weekly. Aside from these sessions, you are free to go about your daily life.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP).

An intensive outpatient alcohol rehab program requires more of a time commitment but still allows you to continue your daily activities. Intensive outpatient programs are typically around four hours, three to five times a week. The services provided by intensive outpatient alcohol rehab are more involved and can include family therapy, group therapy, and medical management.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

PHPs are more involved than the other types of outpatient alcohol rehab programs and involve treatment for up to six hours per day, up to five days each week. This can be an excellent next option for people leaving inpatient treatment, as it offers the most thorough treatment options, including individual, group, and family therapy, medication management, and other supportive interventions.

How Does Outpatient Alcohol Rehab Work?

The activities and therapeutic interventions in outpatient rehab for alcohol addiction are similar to those in inpatient rehab for substance use. Typically, an outpatient alcohol treatment program will consist of:

Medically-Supervised Detox

Some people have withdrawal symptoms when they quit using alcohol. Many treatment programs include a medically-supervised detox, where individuals can go through the withdrawal process with the support of medical staff and, in some cases, medications to make the withdrawal symptoms less severe. Outpatient alcohol detox is also an option and can include medical supervision.4

Alcohol Counseling Sessions

Outpatient alcohol counseling sessions may occur at residential facilities, hospitals, clinics, and physician’s offices. They will focus on addiction, its role in the individual’s life, and how to move past it.

Different Types of Therapies

Other therapies (such as cognitive behavioral or art therapy) will be implemented to help individuals learn to cope without alcohol.

Support Groups

Groups like AA are often implemented in an outpatient treatment program. Group therapy is also implemented in outpatient programs, which can help individuals connect with others who can relate to their struggles.

Benefits of Outpatient Rehab for Alcohol

One of the great things about outpatient alcohol rehab is that it allows for flexibility, making it a more accessible treatment for more people. Additionally, outpatient programs allow you to put the things you’ve learned into action in your everyday life. Some other benefits of outpatient alcohol rehab programs include:


It is possible to quit using alcohol on your own, but it’s not necessarily as safe as using outpatient programs. When you participate in an outpatient rehab alcohol program, you have professionals to help you every step of the way. This makes the process safer, as any withdrawal side effects or other potential issues you have can be resolved with the support of your recovery team.


Participation in outpatient programs—especially intensive outpatient programs—can be as effective as attending residential treatment.2

Flexibility of Scheduling

Outpatient rehab for alcohol allows you to return home each day, but many programs are also flexible and allow you to schedule counseling sessions around your work or school schedule.

Rehab/Life balance

Not everyone can or wants to disconnect from their daily life when healing from alcohol use disorder. When you participate in outpatient rehab for alcohol or drugs, you can still go to work, see your children or your spouse, and generally keep a good rehab/life balance.

Low Cost

Often, outpatient alcohol rehab programs are much cheaper than inpatient programs since they do not require you to live at the facility.

Allows Patients to Remain At Home During Treatment

Outpatient alcohol treatment programs will enable you to heal from alcohol use disorder in your own home, where you are most comfortable. Additionally, many outpatient programs offer virtual services, so some of your treatment can take place from home as well.3

How to Choose Outpatient Alcohol Rehab Centers

Choosing which outpatient alcohol rehabilitation center is the right fit for you can be overwhelming. Some questions to think about when choosing outpatient alcohol rehab include:


  • What therapeutic interventions or practices am I interested in receiving from treatment?
  • Does this program offer outpatient alcohol detox?
  • What degree of treatment am I interested in receiving (standard, IOP, PHP)?
  • What is the patient-to-staff ratio?
  • Does this treatment facility accept my insurance?
  • How long does the outpatient alcohol treatment last?

Additional Considerations

It’s also important to remember that the best outpatient alcohol rehabilitation centers are accredited by the Joint Commission or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, independent, non-profit organizations that confirm whether a rehab offers demonstrated results, quality, and value. Additionally, staff should be licensed and accredited.

Outpatient Alcohol Rehabilitation at San Diego Detox

One barrier to outpatient alcohol recovery is the cost of treatment programs. However, many insurance policies cover at least a portion of outpatient treatment for alcohol, making it a more affordable option. At our outpatient alcohol rehab, San Diego Detox, you can receive high-quality outpatient alcohol rehab that is accessible and effective. To learn more, contact San Diego Detox today.