Treatment Facilities for Alcoholism | Residential Treatment Centers, Inpatient & Outpatient Programs

Treatment Facilities For Alcoholism

Individuals who are struggling with alcoholism can benefit greatly from undergoing treatment in a specialized facility that can provide them with appropriate guidance and care. Treatment facilities for alcoholism can help these individuals achieve sobriety and minimize the chances of relapse by offering support that is carefully tailored to their particular needs and provided in a controlled and safe environment.

The Importance of Entering an Alcohol Treatment Facility

Understanding the prevalence of alcoholism in the U.S. and its effects can help you understand why entering a specialized alcohol treatment facility is so important, whether it’s you or a loved one that is struggling with alcoholism.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol use disorder or AUD is a recurring brain disorder marked by an inability to manage alcohol use in spite of unfavorable consequences to one’s health, personal or professional life.1

An estimated 15 million people in the United States have AUD:1

  • Approximately 14.4 million adults ages 18 and older had AUD in 2018. (9.2 million men and 5.3 million women).
  • Approximately 401,000 adolescents ages 12-17 had AUD.

Alcohol use disorder impacts people in different ways. According to the American Psychological Association:2

  • Short-term effects may include memory loss, hangovers, and blackouts.
  • Long-term problems associated with heavy drinking may include stomach ailments, heart problems, cancer, brain damage, serious memory loss, and liver cirrhosis.

Alcoholism can also have a negative effect on mental health. It can exacerbate conditions like depression or contribute to new problems (anxiety, depression, memory-related issues).3

AUD does not only affect the person struggling with alcoholism, but can have a serious impact on their family. Spouses and children of heavy drinkers may face physical or psychological abuse (more than 10 percent of U.S. children live with a parent with alcohol problems, according to a 2012 study).4

treatment facilities for alcoholism

When It’s Time to Consider Going to a Facility for Alcohol Treatment

People tend to conceal their drinking issues from others, and can often struggle to admit it to themselves. However, it is important to recognize when an individual is dealing with alcoholism and when they should seek help at a treatment facility.

Individuals dealing with alcoholism may experience guilt when they are reaching for a drink, unable to control their urge to consume alcohol. Additionally, people around them may notice and comment on their drinking. Finally, individuals may even experience physical symptoms unless they have a drink (feeling nervous, anxious, on edge).5 These occurrences may be an indication that an individual needs outside help.

NIAA states thatalcohol use disorder can range from mild to severe and is diagnosed when a patient answers “yes” to two or more of the following questions.6 An individual might want to consider going to a treatment facility for alcoholism if they:

  • Had instances when they drank more than intended.
  • Wanted and tried to stop drinking several times, but were unsuccessful.
  • Spent a considerable amount of time drinking.
  • Experienced a strong desire to drink.
  • Found that drinking interfered with their personal and professional life.
  • Continued drinking in spite of any problems it caused (relationships with friends and family).
  • Neglected other interests in favor of drinking.
  • Had several instances when drinking endangered their well-being (got them into fights, dangerous encounters).
  • Continued drinking despite it making their mental and physical health worse.
  • Found that they no longer experience the same intoxication and therefore increase their alcohol intake (in order to experience inebriation).
  • Found that in absence of alcohol they experience withdrawal symptoms (nausea, shakiness, anxiety, etc.).

If an individual has any of these symptoms, their drinking may already be a cause for concern. The more symptoms they have, the more urgent the need for change. A health professional can conduct a formal assessment of the symptoms to see if an alcohol use disorder is present.

Types of Treatment Facilities for Alcoholism

An alcohol treatment facility is fundamentally an adept location where individuals attain the needed attention and treatment to be able to overcome their AUD. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there are four basic levels of care or intensity for alcohol treatment.7 These levels, as defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, include:8

  • Outpatient: Regular office visits for counseling, medication support, or both.
  • Intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization: Coordinated outpatient care for complex needs.
  • Residential: Low- or high-intensity programs in 24-hour treatment settings.
  • Intensive inpatient: Medically-directed 24-hour services that may include withdrawal management.

Before joining a program at a treatment facility for alcoholism, a person with alcohol use disorder should be evaluated by a health professional who has training and experience in alcoholism treatment. When doing an assessment, a health professional will usually ask them about:

  • Their alcohol and possibly other addictions to determine whether they should consider a facility for handling substance abuse.
  • Any existing medical or mental health conditions that will need attention during their treatment.
  • Their social situation (family and friends support, living arrangement, etc.).
  • Any legal issues that will require coordination with the appropriate services.

Tips for Choosing the Right Facility

When choosing a treatment facility for alcoholism, a person should gather as much information as they can about the available options. They should also know that every person may react differently to different types of treatment, so what worked for one individual might not work for the other. Ideally, health professionals would be able to identify which alcoholism treatment is most effective depending on the individual case.

Here are some questions a person considering joining a treatment facility can ask that may help with decision making:

  • What types of treatment does the facility provide?
  • Do they tailor the treatment to the individual patient?
  • What will be required of the patient?
  • Do they keep track of their treatment success?
  • What is the program’s procedure if relapse occurs?

The cost of treatment may also be a factor to consider.It’s important to evaluate the coverage in a health insurance plan to determine what the policy will cover.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When you recognize that you’re struggling with alcoholism, it’s important to consider how you can start your recovery. You may want to deal with your AUD on your own and may be successful if your AUD is less severe and you have support and stability.However, if you have a more severe AUD or you find yourself struggling with it on your own, you may want to consider seeking professional help for several reasons:
    • The treatment facility and its providers offer specialized care.
    • The treatment would be tailored to your own particular issues and needs.
    • You can find guidance through individual and group counseling.
    • You can find support and stay connected to the sober community after the treatment.

    Individuals struggling with other types of addiction can benefit from undergoing treatment at a dedicated drug abuse facility for the same reasons.

  • In most treatment facilities for alcoholism, the rehab process starts as soon as a person checks in. Treatment providers tend to start by having the person complete an intake interview or questionnaire to find out more about them and their AUD.The intake process is an important step for the rehab process because it is used to customize treatment to the individual’s specific physical and psychiatric needs. This is one of the essential aspects of addiction treatment, based on guidelines from the National Institute of Drug Addiction.9The first and often most difficult part of one’s rehabilitation program is detoxification. The person must go through alcohol withdrawal and flush the alcohol out of their system. This process can have mild to severe physical and psychological symptoms. Medical detox is often recommended where skilled professionals can help manage the symptoms.10Once the person has completed detox, therapy can begin (although, in some programs, therapy begins during detox). It is also important to prepare the person for returning to a normal routine after treatment. The transition from treatment to life after treatment at a facility for alcoholism, but appropriate preparation and support can make it easier.

  • Treatment facilities usually have strict policies about what you can bring with you to treatment. They will most likely provide you with a recommended packing checklist and a list of prohibited items. Treatment facilities will allow you to bring the necessities. Policies on additional items depend on the individual facility.During your check-in at a treatment facility for alcoholism, your bags are likely to be inspected to ensure that no prohibited items are brought in. They may also catalog your belongings to make sure you don’t leave anything behind when you leave.Most often, items that you are recommended to bring with you to rehab are:
    • Contact information of your loved ones
    • List of any current prescription medication you might be taking, including the medication in its original pharmacy bottle
    • Some money and your credit card
    • Your ID
    • Week’s worth of clothing
    • Personal hygiene products

    Most often, items that you are prohibited to bring with you to rehab are:

    • Drugs and alcohol
    • Over-the-counter medication
    • Narcotics
    • Weapons
    • Toiletries and beauty products that contain alcohol
    • Electronic cigarettes
    • Nail polish, polish remover or synthetic nail related products
    • Aerosols
    • Cleaning supplies
    • Clothing with profanity or references to drugs, alcohol or violence

    Additional considerations

    You may be prohibited to bring games (playing cards, video games), DVDs, and sporting equipment. This is to help you avoid distractions and allow you to focus on your recovery. Your treatment facility will have items like these available to you on certain occasions.

    Some treatment facilities for alcoholism may have a restricted sugar and caffeine policy, so your meals will be provided for you at the center. You should inform the center if you have any specific dietary restrictions (e.g. peanut allergy, etc.)

    Depending on each treatment centers’ policies, you will possibly be allowed or prohibited to bring certain items, such as a cell phone, iPod, or any kind of music player (devices without internet access or speakers may be allowed)

    If you’re unsure about bringing an item or have questions about what to pack, check with your treatment center’s website or call your center’s admissions office. They will answer any questions you might have about what to bring.

1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2018).Alcohol Use Disorder

2. American Psychological Association. (2012).Understanding alcohol use disorders and their treatment

3. Ramesh Shivani, M.D., R. Jeffrey Goldsmith, M.D., & Robert M. Anthenelli, M.D. (2002). Alcoholism and Psychiatric Disorders

4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012).More than 7 Million Children Live with a Parent with Alcohol Problems

5. National Health Service. (2018). Alcohol Missuse

6. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2014).Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help

7. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.What Types of Alcohol Treatment Are Available?

8. American Society of Addiction Medicine Continuum (2015.)What are the ASAM Levels of Care?

9. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2018.)Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)

10. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015.) Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment