Outpatient Alcohol Rehab: What To Expect During Treatment June 7th, 2017 The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake
Blog & News Outpatient Alcohol Rehab: What To Expect During Treatment

Outpatient Alcohol Rehab: What To Expect During Treatment

what to expect at outpatient alcohol rehab

When it comes to getting treatment for alcohol addiction or abuse, there’s no right way to go about it. Every individual (and addiction) is different, and the right treatment plan varies from person to person.

In some cases, attending an inpatient treatment program is the most beneficial option, as it removes you from your toxic environment and provides around-the-clock support and care. For others, the thought of leaving home to attend inpatient treatment is too intense or costly. In cases such as this, an outpatient alcohol rehab is a great option.

What is Outpatient Alcohol Rehab?

Outpatient treatment is a term used for any non-residential rehab program. Most outpatient treatment programs require that you’ve already gone through a separate alcohol detox program, such as one that takes place under the direct care of a medical professional.

People being treated for alcohol addiction on an outpatient basis go to an addiction treatment facility to receive their treatment but are able to remain at home the rest of the time. Unlike inpatient programs, those doing an outpatient alcohol rehab program are not under the care of medical professionals around-the-clock. Instead, they’re required to check-in with an addiction specialist on a set schedule for medication and counseling.

Benefits of Outpatient Treatment Programs

As successful as intensive inpatient treatment programs are for alcohol addiction, they’re not right for everyone. The right treatment program for you depends on a variety of factors including the severity of your addiction, co-occurring disorders, whether you’ve tried rehab before, and more. Below, we outline the benefits and drawbacks of outpatient treatment programs.


  • It’s structured so you can continue with many of your daily activities such as school, work, caring for children, and more.
  • Counseling sessions are often offered and night and sometimes on weekends, providing you with options and flexibility.
  • You can apply what you learn in treatment to your real life setting immediately.
  • You’re able to connect with other people going through similar struggles by attending support groups.
  • It’s more affordable than inpatient treatment because you don’t have to pay for room and board.


  • You’re exposed to the same environment, risks, triggers, and negative influences that fed your addiction.
  • You still have access to alcohol if you wanted it or were tempted.
  • Access to a counselor is limited, and you don’t have immediate access to care if you needed it.
  • You won’t spend as much time with people going through the same situation, and you may not develop the same bonds as those who attend inpatient treatment.
  • Daily life distractions may prevent you from focusing on recovery.

What to Expect During Outpatient Treatment

Although every program is different, there are certain things you can expect when participating in an outpatient alcohol rehab program. Many treatment programs include counseling options, daily support group meetings, exercise opportunities, and medication management.

Going into the unknown can be scary, but these points will give you a better idea of what to expect when you enter outpatient treatment.

Be Prepared for an Intake Assessment.

When you first enter the program, you’ll be asked many questions about your alcohol use including how often you drink, when you had your last drink, any other substances you use, and more. While it may feel like an invasion of privacy, these questions help the person on the other end develop the right treatment plan for you. Additionally, expect to undergo a physical exam and drug testing.

Be Ready to Talk About Your Emotions.

Part of the program is getting to the root of your addiction, so be prepared to talk a lot – especially about your feelings. Although it may be uncomfortable at first, do your best not to shut down. Over time, it will become more natural, and you’ll probably even begin to enjoy it.

Be Open to Learning.

Recovery is a learning process. During your treatment program, expect to learn a lot about the disease of addiction and how it affects the brain. While it may not seem important at the time, this educational process will teach you a lot about your substance abuse and yourself.

Be Ready to Continue Care.

Outpatient treatment is only the beginning of your journey. Aftercare is an important step toward recovery, as it allows you to apply what you’ve learned in treatment to real world situations. Before you end outpatient treatment, you’ll be asked to create a relapse prevention plan and connect with outside peer groups. You may also choose to continue with therapy.

Recovery is Possible

Alcohol addiction is a serious disease, and while recovery may seem difficult, it is possible. When you’re at your lowest point, it’s easy to feel stuck and alone, as if you deserve the pain you’re going through. This isn’t the case, and there’s a team of people waiting to help you get the treatment you deserve. Regardless of whether you choose inpatient or outpatient treatment, the first step toward recovery is making the decision to get help. At The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake, we’re here to help provide you with an individualized treatment plan that fits all of your needs.


Types of Treatment Programs. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs

Written by Michelle DiNicolas, Ph.D.Edited by Dan Wagener, M.A.created on 15 May 2013 | updated on 16 September 2016. (2016). Find the Best Outpatient Rehab Center. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from http://www.recovery.org/topics/find-the-best-outpatient-rehab-center/

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.