Long Term Alcohol Treatment vs. Outpatient Treatment

Alcohol abuse is a major health problem in the United States. Statistics show that about 17 million adults had an alcohol use disorder in 2012, and most who needed long term alcohol treatment didn’t receive it. Only 1.4 million adults with alcohol abuse issues obtained care at a specialized treatment facility.1 When you’re seeking help for a drinking problem, two choices are inpatient long term alcohol treatment or outpatient treatment.2

Long Term Alcohol Treatment at a Residential Treatment Center

People with a heavy or long term drinking problem usually require long term alcohol treatment in an inpatient treatment center. Once an assessment has been completed, the first step in treatment is to enter detox. A medically supervised detox helps safely break the body’s dependency on alcohol. Not all treatment facilities offer detox services.

Detox addresses the body, but the true therapeutic work occurs in the mind. Once detox is completed, the next step is counseling and therapy that are provided in a supervised environment. The fully monitored environment of inpatient treatment allows patients to participate in therapy without access to alcohol or exposure to environmental triggers.

A stay at a long term alcohol treatment center will vary in length depending on the person. Some people need a few weeks, where others may need several months of inpatient rehab.

Once a person has completed inpatient treatment, an aftercare plan is put into place to offer ongoing support. Sober living homes, group meetings, individual counseling sessions and prescription medications may be part of an aftercare program.

Outpatient Treatment

Patients typically attend outpatient services after inpatient treatment. Others enter outpatient rehab at first, if their home environment is relatively stable and they’re highly motivated to recover.

Outpatient treatment isn’t recommended for people who are highly likely to relapse. Heavy, prolonged alcohol abuse and frequent relapses calls for the level of supervision and support found at an inpatient rehab.

Outpatient treatment is less restrictive and more loosely structured. People attend therapies and counseling around their own schedules. This flexibility allows participants to meet work, school and family obligations, while still getting the treatment they need.


If you’re unsure which options are best for your particular situation, an assessment can help. During an assessment, a complete substance abuse, medical and psychiatric history is taken. An assessment determines the appropriate level of care and provides recommendations for treatment.


  1. https://niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-use-disorders
  2. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/treatment/treatment.htm#chapter02

Underage Drinking and Graduation Season

Graduation is a time to celebrate accomplishments and look forward to new and exciting adventures. When the celebrations venture into underage drinking, which commonly happens when young people are in celebratory moods, dangerous situations can develop.

Underage Drinking Statistics

Despite the strict drinking laws for young people in the United States, alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth under 21 years old, in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 4,300 underage people die every year due to excessive drinking. Young people between the ages of 11 and 20 years old consume 11 percent of all the alcohol in the United States. Binge drinking, a common drinking behavior among young people, accounts for more than 90 percent of underage alcohol consumption. In 2010, about 189,000 visits to emergency rooms by people under 21 years old were attributed to have alcohol as the cause. In a 2013 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, high school students admitted that in the last 30 days:

  • 35% consumed alcohol
  • 21% reported binge drinking
  • 10% drove a vehicle after drinking alcohol
  • 22% rode in a vehicle with a driver who had consumed alcohol

Graduation season typically sees increases in alcohol use and abuse among underage people. There are proms, graduation parties, homecoming events and more, all happening when the weather is warming. Young people are looking forward to the end of school and the start of vacation. The party atmosphere is infectious, and frequently, people under 21 experiment with alcohol. Parents who are alert and diligent can help minimize underage drinking episodes and the consequences. When your child knows you’re savvy and looking out for the signs of drinking and ready to apply consequences if rules are disobeyed, you’re gaining an edge that can help your child avoid temptations and stay safe. Look for these signs of underage drinking:

  • Problems with grades or behavior issues in school
  • Socializing with a different group of friends
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Less attention to appearance
  • Smelling alcohol on breath
  • Slurred speech
  • Clumsiness, confusion
  • Lack of focus, memory problems

The Risks of Underage Drinking

Besides the obvious, where youths can injure themselves and others by drinking and driving, other risks are involved as well. Drinking impairs a person’s judgment, and underage drinking can lead to further risky behaviors, like unprotected sex or angry outbursts leading to injuries and arrests. Once an underage person is under the influence, they are more vulnerable to dangerous situations and people. The risk of being mugged, sexually assaulted or beaten, resulting in serious harm, increases greatly. Underage drinking leading to an alcohol problem later in life is also a risk. Research shows that people who drink before 15 years old are four times more likely to have alcohol dependence later in life.

Be Aware and Vigilant

It’s important to be tuned in, especially during graduation season, to young people who may be drinking. Being vigilant, while letting young people know you’re watching, can go a long way in preventing underage drinking or heading off alcohol issues before any serious consequences arise.

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