alcohol abuse

Alcohol Abuse Inpatient Treatment: Detox, Therapeutic Communities, and Halfway Houses

Inpatient treatment is one option available for the treatment of alcohol abuse. Two types of alcohol abuse treatment that are available on an inpatient basis are medical detoxification, also known as detox, or residential programs.

Detox for Alcohol Abuse

When an alcoholic has been drinking large amounts of alcohol for long periods of time, there can be serious withdrawal symptoms when he stops drinking. Detox is important for addressing the medical and supportive needs of recovering alcoholics, as alcohol withdrawal can be fatal.

People who go into detox are monitored by medical professionals through all of their withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, anxiety, insomnia, hallucinations, heart palpitations, tachycardia, hypertension, and violent seizures. Benzodiazepines may be used to treat some withdrawal symptoms, and nutrition is also used to aid in treatment. (American Family Physician)

Because detox is a short-term treatment for alcohol abuse, one of its goals is also to help recovering alcoholics prepare for their ongoing treatment.

Residential Programs for Alcohol Abuse

Therapeutic Communities

Therapeutic communities (TCs) are long-term residential programs that may be entered voluntarily or involuntarily. Alcohol abuse treatment in a TC may be mandated as an alternative to incarceration, or as a condition of probation. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about a third of all TC admissions had been referred from the criminal justice system between 1991 and 1993.

The concept of the therapeutic community is to “provide a treatment milieu that motivates and assists residents in achieving meaningful goals,” according to Community Education Centers (CEC). In simpler terms, it is learning while living together as a community.

In a TC, staff members are role-models for exemplary behavior, attitude, and values. Residents in a therapeutic community require either rehabilitation to relearn these healthy behaviors, attitudes, and values, or they need habilitation to learn them for the first time, never having learned them in the first place. Staff members are often former alcoholics or drug addicts who can serve as a reminder that positive change is possible.

Residents in a TC also help each other as peers, both teaching and learning from one another. Through mutual self-help, residents assume responsibility for their own recovery and the recovery of their peers (CEC).

Halfway Houses

Halfway houses are similar to TCs, as they are supervised residential programs for recovering alcoholics, but they differ by allowing more access to the community outside of the residence. Residents of a halfway house may leave to go to work, school, or other programming, while still receiving the benefits of the counseling, supervision, assistance, and other support provided by the residence. Entering and leaving a halfway house is voluntary, but each house has strict rules and guidelines that must be followed by all residents.

People generally enter a halfway house directly from another alcohol treatment program. Living in a halfway house provides a clean, sober, supportive environment that can help prevent relapses, or “falling off the wagon,” when re-entry into the “real world” becomes a challenge.

For more information about alcohol abuse treatment options, including medical detoxification, therapeutic communities, and halfway houses, contact Recovery Connection at 1-800-99-DETOX.