Long Term Alcohol Treatment vs. Outpatient Treatment

Last Updated on December 3, 2021

Alcohol abuse is a major health problem in the United States. Statistics show that about 16 million adults had an alcohol use disorder in 2015, and most who needed long-term alcohol treatment didn’t receive it. Less than ten percent of adults with alcohol abuse issues received any treatment.1 If you’re seeking help for a drinking problem, two primary choices are inpatient long-term alcohol treatment or outpatient treatment.2 Full recovery from alcohol addiction is possible, but it all comes down to which type of treatment is right for you.

Long-term alcohol treatment at a residential alcohol rehab center

People with a heavy or long-term drinking problem usually require long-term alcohol treatment in an inpatient treatment center. Once a personal assessment has been completed, the first step in alcohol treatment is to enter detox. A medically supervised detox program 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, which are provided in a supervised environment. The fully-monitored environment of inpatient alcohol 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 alcohol treatment, an aftercare plan is put in place to offer ongoing support. Sober living homes, group meetings, individual counseling sessions and prescription medications may be part of an aftercare program.

Benefits of inpatient long-term alcohol rehab

Although it requires a commitment of several weeks or months, long-term alcohol treatment provides many benefits for people who are recovering from alcohol addiction. These benefits include:

  • More time to address underlying issues that contribute to alcohol addiction
  • More time to learn and practice relapse prevention strategies
  • A safe, sober place to live that is free of distractions and triggers
  • Opportunities to engage with peers in addiction recovery
  • Decreased risk of relapse

Outpatient treatment for alcohol addiction

Patients typically attend outpatient treatment upon completing inpatient alcohol treatment. Others may enter outpatient rehab 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 call for the level of supervision and support found at an inpatient rehab.

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

Benefits of outpatient alcohol rehab

If long-term inpatient alcohol treatment isn’t the right fit, a person’s needs may be better met in an outpatient alcohol rehab in Austin. There are also many benefits to this type of addiction treatment, including:

  • More flexibility for clients who are unable to commit to a long-term alcohol treatment program
  • Continued care for long-term rehab alumni to ease the transition into independent sobriety
  • Structured group sessions several times each week
  • Peer recovery support
  • Continued addiction and relapse prevention education

Choosing the right type of alcohol rehab program

If you’re unsure which options are best for your particular situation, a personal assessment can help. During an assessment, our staff will take a complete substance abuse, medical, and psychiatric history. This determines the appropriate level of care for each client and allows us to provide recommendations for treatment.

After you complete an outpatient or inpatient detox program, we’ll determine whether an inpatient or outpatient rehab is recommended for you. Then, the staff at Nova Recovery Center will help you get started with an alcohol treatment plan that will provide the best opportunity for continued success in sobriety. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to learn more about our inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs or to enroll in our rehab in Austin today.


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