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Outpatient Rehab for Alcohol Addiction


Alcoholism, or alcohol dependency, is an addictive disorder characterized by compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol despite it negative effects on the drinker’s health, relationships, and social standing. The DSM-IV diagnosis of alcohol dependence represents one approach to the definition of alcoholism. According to the DSM-IV, an alcohol dependence diagnosis is “…maladaptive alcohol use with clinically significant impairment as manifested by at least three of the following within a one year period: tolerance; withdrawal; taken in great amounts or over longer time course than intended; desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control use; great deal of time spent obtaining, using, or recovering from use; social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced; continued use despite knowledge of physical or psychological sequelae.” Outpatient rehab does not require overnight stays as opposed to inpatient facilities. Alcohol outpatient rehab programs usually include alcohol education, individual and group counseling, case management, and family support. The danger of alcoholism is that many suffering from this disease are unable or unwilling to admit to their problem. Outpatient treatments clear the fog of denial, helping patients to admit defeat in hopes to save their lives. Some outpatient treatments can be intense with four to five hours a day, each day of the week. Alcohol outpatient rehab programs can be held at night so not to disrupt standard business hours.

There are three behavioral treatments used to treat alcoholism. They include motivation enhancement therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and 12-step facilitation. Motivation Enhancement Therapy (MET) is a directive, client-centered counseling style for deriving behavior change by helping clients to explore and resolve their hesitation and achieve lasting changes for a range of problematic behaviors. The goal of this therapy is to introduce motivation to change alcohol abuse by analyzing client uncertainty, generating self-motivational statements and commitment to change, and responding in a neutral way to the client’s resistance to change. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach that aims to solve problems concerning dysfunctional emotions, behaviors and cognitions through a goal-oriented, systematic procedure. The focus of CBT is on the “here and now” and on alleviating symptoms. Twelve-step programs are a set of guiding principles outlining a course of action for recovery from addiction. Alcoholics Anonymous is based on the twelve steps and is the most effective method of recovering from alcoholism, as well as turning one’s life around. The twelve steps have become the foundation for many twelve step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Co-Dependents Anonymous, and Debtors Anonymous. As summarized by the American Psychological Association, the process involves: admitting that one cannot control one’s addiction or compulsion; recognizing a greater power that can give strength; examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced member); making amends for these errors; learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior; and helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.

Alcohol outpatient rehab statistics are difficult to derive due to the high turnover rate of recovery as well as the many variables involved with addiction. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 23.6 million people are living with alcoholism or drug addiction in the United States, with only 10% of this population receive treatment at rehab facility. In 2005, SAMHSA reported that 44% of patients completed treatment, although it is hard to say whether or not the treatment was successful in the long run. High numbers of alcoholics revert back to their old lifestyles, complicating statistical outcomes.

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