If you need alcohol for your body to feel normal, then you likely need help. Getting through detoxification is not just a matter of willpower, and stopping “abuser” without at least medical help is never recommended. In some cases, withdrawal can put your life at risk. Even when it is not as serious, it is still a big challenge.
A program gives you support to guide you through the withdrawal. That often includes medicine to help ease symptoms as well as care for medical and mental health conditions.
Your symptoms may last a week or more, typically hitting their worst within 24-72 hours. You’re more likely to stick with a detoxification program when you have lots of help.
When you think about detoxification programs, it helps to look a step ahead to rehab. That is because you will also need treatment to break your addiction, and some programs combine the two.
Your two basic options for detoxification programs are:
Where you live at a hospital, detoxification clinic, or rehab center during the process. You will have care around the clock to help you through.
Where you get some treatment during the day but live at home. This might be as simple as visiting your health care professional regularly to get medicines.
Inpatient usually offers more services, but it tends to cost more. Outpatient is a less-expensive option that is generally safe and effective for people with mild or moderate alcohol withdrawal. It works best if your physical and mental health is good, your home is stable, you have support at home, and you don’t have a long history of problem drinking.
Rehab programs can include a range of services from medical care and counseling to life skills training and help preventing a relapse.
At a hospital or medical center is not as common as it used to be, but these programs make sense if you have serious medical or mental health issues.
Where you live at a center, usually runs for 1-3 months. These are good if you have a more serious problem and struggle to stay sober.
If you are not a danger to yourself or others, and you can stay sober when you go home, other types of rehab may be a better fit for you.
Partial hospitalization or day treatment is where you live at home but you go for treatment at a hospital or clinic at least 5 days a week. It can be an alternative to inpatient or residential treatment or a step-down from one of those programs.
Intensive outpatient treatment involves a scheduled series of visits that are longer and more in-depth than a traditional outpatient program. You may do this after partial hospitalization, detoxification, or residential rehab. It can also be a way to prevent the need for those services.
How to Choose a Program
Start with a list of your needs. For example, if you have a medical or mental health condition, you will want services for that. Or if you have struggled for years and don’t have a strong support network, an inpatient program might make sense.
From there, you can look at quality and cost. Ideally, you want to find a program you can afford that has licensed trained staff and a high success rate.