Once you reach the point of being able to stand up and say, “I have alcoholism and I need an alcohol detox center,” the next question is: where do you find the right one? Do you stay in your hometown or travel from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara? Opt for a low-frills center or one with all the trimmings? Stick strictly to your doctor’s recommendations, or focus on choosing a center that appeals to you personally?
Other posts on this blog cover finding the best drug and alcohol detox centers (and the folly of attempting to get clean without the help of an alcohol detox treatment center). In this post, we will look at one specific question: inpatient or outpatient care? (As will quickly become clear, we recommend inpatient: but if you feel you must have an outpatient option, knowing the benefits of inpatient rehab will still help you cover all bases of effective recovery.)
1. Inpatient alcohol rehab ensures quick medical treatment in case of emergency.
If nothing else, always use an inpatient treatment center for initial physical detox. Alcohol withdrawal can be extremely dangerous, and it’s impossible to know for certain whether you’ll have a severe reaction. No 911 call can equal the down-the-hall emergency medical response you get at professional alcohol detox treatment centers. Ideally, look for a center that emphasizes getting extra rest until you’re fully healed; some places, like some general hospitals, are a little too eager to declare patients “ready to get up” as soon as the obvious worst is over. For the same reason, find a place that has a high staff-to-patient ratio, where no one will rush on to the next person without being sure all your needs have been adequately met.
2. Inpatient alcohol rehab keeps you away from temptation.
No matter how carefully you avoid the bars and how well your family and employer understand your needs, you can’t completely dodge “have a drink” temptations in the world outside the alcohol detox center. Even if you never go onto a street with a bar and no one ever opens a can of beer in front of you, alcohol is such an everyday drug that reminders will find you through the media, through overheard conversations and through brewery trucks passing on the street. Yes, you’ll have to cope with all that eventually. No, it doesn’t have to start immediately after physical detox. Give yourself time to rest, enjoy life in an alcohol-free environment, and get counseling to face future temptation.
3. Inpatient alcohol rehab eliminates many excuses for neglecting counseling and support groups.
Most people who relapsed after several sober months will admit that getting lax about human support was a factor. Let’s face it, normal life (with or without alcohol) isn’t an easy ride. Anyone can find easy excuses to neglect regular participation in anything that takes an effort and that doesn’t have obvious immediate consequences for missing:
- “I’m just too tired today.”
- “Skipping one meeting won’t hurt.”
- “I’ve been doing fine. I don’t need it that much anymore.”
- “I’ll get back to it once all this extra work is finished.”
Again, you’ll have to deal with these temptations eventually, but why not first give yourself time to build up inner strength and get used to attending support group meetings and therapy sessions on a regular basis? In inpatient drug and alcohol detox centers, there are no unexpected requests to work late, no long drives to attend meetings, and few opportunities to forget that sobriety counseling was tonight.
4. Inpatient alcohol rehab emphasizes the need for extensive, lasting change.
All the best alcohol detox centers know there’s more to getting sober than getting rid of physical cravings. You’ll also need to:
- Understand the reasons why you started “self-medicating” with alcohol, and find alternate ways of dealing with those challenges.
- Develop a solid understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, and plan ways to maximize the first and cope with the second.
- Be honest with yourself about what’s likely to tempt you back to drinking, and learn to avoid such situations even if it means dropping old friends or changing jobs.
- Help your family and closest acquaintances understand your problem, and help them learn ways to help you rather than helping the addiction. (Alcoholism is the whole family’s problem, and more often than not has well-meaning people actively enabling)
- Ensure you have someone to call for quick support if you need help resisting an on-the-spot temptation to drink (or if you give in to temptation and need a hand back onto the wagon).
Sure, you could work on all these during the course of your normal life: but staying in inpatient care for several weeks not only assures a fully supportive environment 24/7, it makes you more open to positive change through the very fact that your surroundings are different from your regular everyday.
If you still feel that costs or outside responsibilities make outpatient treatment the best choice for you (and your therapist agrees), look for an intensive outpatient or “partial hospitalization” program which commits you to being onsite several hours a day, multiple days a week. Set up strict accountability, and plan carefully, to make sure you won’t miss an appointment. Know exactly what you’ll do to avoid offsite drinking temptations. Make sure you’re fully committed to staying in this for the long haul.
Recovery from alcoholism isn’t easy, but it is possible. With proper medical detox, effective follow-up treatment and a solid relapse prevention plan, you can sober up and live the better life you were made for!
If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol addiction, Inland Detox can help. We also offer help getting off opiates, benzodiazepines and other drugs. Call 888-739-8296 to learn more about our services.