outpatient setting

Before entering alcohol detox, it is important to consider whether an inpatient or outpatient program is a better option for you. Following successful completion of detox, an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation program may be recommended to allow further work toward recovery and relapse prevention. In many cases, physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal will largely begin to decrease and altogether and resolve within 5 to 7 days.

mayo clinic

Like detox, treatment programs can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting, or even through teletherapy. When detoxing from alcohol at a professional facility, you can expect to be kept as comfortable as possible at all times. To begin the process, your health care team will perform a comprehensive exam. This will likely start with paperwork and documentation that outlines your medical history, then a medical exam to assess your overall health.

  • These patients are at risk of developing alcohol withdrawal syndrome if they abruptly abstain from alcohol use.
  • Symptoms should resolve within seven days of abstinence from alcohol use.
  • These can help people suffering from extreme agitation, hallucinations, delusions, and delirium.

Benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants reduce psychomotor agitation and prevent progression of withdrawal symptoms,22 and should be administered early. There is no evidence that any one medication is superior in treating AWS, but long-acting benzodiazepines are preferred.22 Table 3 summarizes oral medications used to treat AWS. You live on-site, receive round-the-clock care, and participate in different types of individual and group therapies. Inpatient rehab can range in intensity levels depending on your needs, from highly supportive, medically managed hospital-based settings to clinically managed residential settings outside of a hospital. The drug also should not be given to patients with liver failure. In cases where alcohol use is not likely to cause serious side effects, people may be able to safely detox at home.

People who are involved with some type of regular spiritual practice may find it easier to maintain recovery from alcohol use disorder or other addictions. For many people, gaining greater insight into their spiritual side is a key element in recovery. Counseling and therapy for groups and individuals help you better understand your problem with alcohol and support recovery from the psychological aspects of alcohol use. You may benefit from couples or family therapy — family support can be an important part of the recovery process. Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center.

It lets you receive treatment without interrupting your life,” Sherrie Rager, PhD, a substance abuse specialist in Pleasanton, CA, tells WebMD Connect to Care. Outpatient detoxification (“detox” for short) is an effective and affordable treatment option for some types of substance withdrawal. Outpatient detox at a doctor’s office, clinic, or substance use treatment center can help you or your loved one safely manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. On the day you arrive for detox, medical professionals will conduct a physical exam and question process. They will also test for the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. These evaluations help determine what kind of withdrawal symptoms you can expect and what your treatment options are.


These medicines help reduce withdrawal symptoms and the risk of withdrawal seizures. Barbiturates can be used as first-line medications for substitution in alcohol withdrawal.25 A disadvantage to this protocol, however, is that the narrow therapeutic window increases the possibility of toxicity. Barbiturates also interfere with the clearance of many drugs that are metabolized by the liver.

detox treatment

When you purchase any of these services, WebMD may receive a fee. WebMD does not endorse any product, service or treatment referred to on this page. Clonidine helps reduce some of the distressing symptoms of opioid withdrawal, such as rapid heart rate and high blood pressure. Methadone and buprenorphine can ease opioid withdrawal symptoms and control opioid cravings.


Benzodiazepines are first-line therapy for moderate to severe symptoms, with carbamazepine and gabapentin as potential adjunctive or alternative therapies. Physicians should monitor outpatients with alcohol withdrawal syndrome daily for up to five days after their last drink to verify symptom improvement and to evaluate the need for additional treatment. Primary care physicians should offer to initiate long-term treatment for alcohol use disorder, including pharmacotherapy, in addition to withdrawal management. Approximately 2% to 9% of patients seen in a family physician’s office have alcohol dependence.

Patients who do not respond adequately to benzodiazepine therapy, who miss an appointment, or who resume drinking should be referred to an addiction specialist or inpatient treatment program. Outpatient detoxification of patients with alcohol or other drug addiction is being increasingly undertaken. This type of management is appropriate for patients in stage I or stage II of withdrawal who have no significant comorbid conditions and have a support person willing to monitor their progress. Adequate dosages of appropriate substitute medications are important for successful detoxification. In addition, comorbid psychiatric, personality and medical disorders must be managed, and social and environmental concerns need to be addressed. By providing supportive, nonjudgmental, yet assertive care, the family physician can facilitate the best possible chance for a patient’s successful recovery.

alcohol detox program

Alcohol detox is the process of allowing the body to naturallyeliminate all alcoholfrom its bloodstream and adjust to the absence of alcohol. People who are dependent on alcohol will experience withdrawal symptoms during detox, which can make the process an uncomfortable and even dangerous experience. Doctors prescribe these medicines to reduce the likelihood of seizures during alcohol withdrawal.

Questions about Detox?

When possible, it is best to use nonnarcotic medications in patients with chronic pain. These patients can be given an initial loading dose of 2 to 4 mg of lorazepam, with subsequent doses titrated until adequate sedation is achieved. The use of lorazepam in this setting allows more precise titration than can be obtained with longer acting medications. Some people experience a severe form of alcohol withdrawal known as DTs. A person with this condition can have a very high heart rate, seizures, or a high body temperature. Here’s some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your health care provider or mental health provider.


This allows your progress to be monitored without requiring you to move into a detox facility. Outpatient detox is ideal for people who are not likely to experience severe detox symptoms. Alcohol dependence or alcoholism is a very serious and widespread medical issue that can cause permanent physical damage to the body if it is not addressed and treated properly. When an individual experiences withdrawal symptoms from alcohol if he or she does not have a drink for any extended period of time, then an alcohol detox is necessary. Outpatient alcohol detox is not a suitable option for someone who has been a heavy drinker for an extended period of time.

Calls to any general helpline (non-facility specific 1-8XX numbers) could be forwarded to SAMHSA or a verified treatment provider. Calls are routed based on availability and geographic location. The Recovery Village provides a full continuum of care, including medical detox, at a number of facilities located throughout the United States. Whether you’re looking to stay close to home or find somewhere farther away, we likely have a facility near your desired location. As Senior Medical Editor for American Addiction Centers, Dr. Scot Thomas works to provide accurate, authoritative information to those seeking help for substance abuse and behavioral health issues. When alcohol is consumed in large quantities for a prolonged period and then abruptly discontinued, withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur.

Identifying Patients with Alcohol Dependence

Outpatient alcohol detox may be a good fit for people at low risk for severe withdrawal. Withdrawal progress is monitored through frequent check-up appointments within outpatient clinical settings (e.g., doctor’s office), allowing for the level of care to be escalated if needed. Successful treatment of AWS is the initial step toward long-term abstinence. Abstinence is unlikely if the patient does not enroll in a long-term treatment program.9 Programs could include group meetings, individual counseling, and long-term medications to reduce the risk of relapse.

The type and frequency of monitoring should be guided by symptom severity, and the characteristics of the patient and his or her environment. Most patients are evaluated daily until their symptoms decrease and the medication dosage is reduced. Blood pressure and pulse should be measured at each follow-up visit. If available, an alcohol breath analysis could be performed at random intervals.

Preparing and anticipating questions will help you make the most of your appointment time. Outpatient treatment, on the other hand, can be extremely beneficial in cases in which, generally speaking, there is not an immediate or life-threatening risk. But the lack of residential stay does not mean outpatient therapy is not serious. In some cases, outpatient therapy can involve over nine hours of treatment weekly. “An inpatient treatment program requires that you put your life on hold. However, an outpatient program allows you to continue to do things like hold down a job without taking a leave of absence.

However, confidentiality laws prevent your provider from giving out any information about you without your consent. Depending on your treatment plan, your detox schedule may include segues into addiction treatment, such as regular counseling visits and attendance at support groups as well. Other factors may also present persistent obstacles to recovery. And many of these issues can be addressed by consistently accessing treatment and care. With a commitment to and reliable engagement in the recovery process, sobriety can be achieved. You can also work with your professional team to adjust your treatment plan and address obstacles as they arise.

Those who have taking a responsible vacation while in recoveryed from alcohol before or are likely to have moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms should generally go through a medically managed detox. Alcohol withdrawal can cause potentially fatal symptoms, and more serious withdrawal symptoms should be monitored and treated by health care professionals. Sometimes, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be severe and lead to a potentially fatal condition called delirium tremens. Outpatient alcohol detox allows far more freedom than inpatient detox and is safer than detoxing at home. Outpatient detox involves regularly following up with a health care professional before and during detox.