How to Find the Right Inpatient Alcohol Abuse Program for You

The majority of people who seek the help of a professional rehab facility to recover from addiction opt for outpatient care. However, in many cases, inpatient rehab may be the more appropriate choice, offering an immersive recovery experience.

Inpatient rehab offers more supervision and more intensive treatment. This doesn’t necessarily means it’s better for everyone. For many people, outpatient treatment is the preferable and most appropriate option. Still, inpatient alcohol programs lend a certain level of care that outpatient treatment doesn’t offer and that makes it ideal for some clients.


Inpatient treatment is the best option for people who:

  • Have been in outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse before and relapsed
  • Suffer from comorbid disorders
  • Have harmed themselves or someone else
  • Engage in polydrug abuse
  • Suffer from long-term or severe alcohol addiction issues

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 17 million adults in America are dependent on alcohol. Alcohol is legal and therefore it’s socially acceptable and widely available. As a result, recovery can be a struggle for many in the throes of an alcohol use disorder.

In 2012, there were 374,621 people in treatment citing alcohol as a primary and sole substance of abuse, and another 306,753 citing it as a substance of abuse alongside others. The percentages of each group that sought inpatient care were 12.1 percent and 17.6 percent respectively, per SAMHSA.

In addition to being the best treatment option for certain demographics, inpatient treatment supplies people with specific care regimens that can’t be replicated with outpatient care. For example, individuals who suffer from specific co-occurring mental health disorders may need the extra supervision that comes with inpatient treatment. This includes clients who battle self-harming behaviors or eating disorders. Inpatient care – sometimes in hospitalization form – provides these clients with the dietary oversight needed to ensure they are eating and gaining adequate weight while also treating their alcohol abuse problems.

The change in environment involved with inpatient treatment is usually welcome. As previously mentioned, alcohol addiction is hard to overcome, in part, because alcohol is everywhere. Inpatient rehab filters out triggers that can lead people to relapse when they’re in outpatient treatment. Since clients stay in rehab around the clock, they don’t face daily triggers for alcohol use, such as after-work happy hours, family dinners complete with wine, and other social events that involve alcohol.

What to Look for in an Inpatient Program

When screening potential facilities, prospective clients should note facilities’ accreditations. In addition, staff members should have the proper credentials and licensure. For instance, some facilities claim to cater to individuals with alcohol abuse and co-occurring mental health issues and offer counseling to these clients, but they don’t have a psychiatrist on staff. A psychiatrist is needed to properly diagnose and prescribe medications for the treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders.

Clients in need of medical detox should verify that the staff members at a chosen facility are equipped to render such treatment. Withdrawal is a critical time in the treatment process for clients, and staff members should have appropriate medical training and experience to deal with any complications that could arise.

inpatient cabin at oxford treatment center

Inquire about the specific therapies offered. In addition to individual and group therapy, there are a variety of specialized therapies available that may work for the client’s particular situation. Examples include wilderness therapy, art therapy, and equine-assisted therapy. All therapists should have proper certifications in the specific therapy.

Aftercare is important. During the initial weeks following treatment, clients are most likely to relapse. People who attend treatment on an inpatient basis are frequently offered the option to transition into a sober living environment instead of heading home. This can provide additional support and protection from triggers as they gain a firmer footing in recovery outside of a residential treatment facility. Some rehab centers may offer alumni programs to offer ongoing support and encouragement to those who have “graduated” from the program.

Clarify insurance coverage with the treatment facility. Many insurance plans now cover at least some of the expenses incurred as part of alcohol rehab, in part due to the advancement of the Affordable Care Act. However, inpatient care isn’t always fully covered. This should be ironed out with the treatment facility and insurance company prior to enrollment.

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Some people choose a facility based on referrals from doctors, therapists, or friends. Some families are referred to a facility by an interventionist they use to motivate their loved one to get help. In addition, SAMHSA offers a treatment locator tool that allows users to easily search for facilities in specific areas or that offer particular services.

However you come to find prospective inpatient alcohol treatment programs, it’s important to verify that the facilities have the services you need. Since inpatient treatment allows the opportunity to fully immerse in the treatment process, away from the distractions of home, the search for the right facility can often be a bit broader and not limited to just those centers in one’s direct geographic location.

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