The Importance of Outpatient Detoxification

Alcohol use disorder is a powerful condition that is very difficult to overcome without some type of support. Once a person has developed a pattern of binge drinking, alcohol dependence, or regular heavy drinking, detoxification can help.

Alcohol detox is a medically supervised process that helps clear all alcohol out of the body’s system. If alcohol use has been a long-term problem, it will help the person safely get through alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Detox is designed to help a person get sober and prepare for any drug or alcohol treatment that may follow.

Why Is Outpatient Alcohol Detox Important?

Woman consoling another in counseling sessionSome people experience withdrawal symptoms that are uncomfortable and a possible set-up for relapse. Tremors and seizures can happen in a small percentage of people who go through alcohol detox.

Residential detox and outpatient detox can offer medical monitoring of symptoms, counseling to get through the difficult first stages of life without alcohol, and immediate, on-hand support when a person is tempted to relapse. The lure to drink again is strongest in early recovery, so detox is an important step in breaking the addiction cycle.

Advantages of Outpatient Alcohol Detoxification

As with many outpatient services, outpatient alcohol detox allows patients to return home or to their chosen sober living facility at the end of each day. This can be more cost-efficient if you are already in a good place mentally, are dedicated to wellness and recovery, and have a strong support system at home. If alcohol use disorder is not severe, outpatient detox may take the place of a residential detox program. In many cases, outpatient detox offers a great follow-up to residential detox.

If you choose outpatient alcohol detox, you may go to your outpatient clinic or hospital several times in one week to have your vitals checked, get blood tests, participate in counseling or group support, or have your medication monitored. Doctors and nurses monitor to keep track of withdrawal symptoms, discomfort levels, and signs of continued recovery. Several short visits a week can make it possible for you to keep up your work schedule and stay close to your family as you go through detox.

For an outpatient alcohol detox process to work, you must be truly committed to your sobriety and willing to reach out for help when you get close to a relapse risk.

Detoxification is a vital first step to alcohol recovery. Detox services help prevent relapse and strengthen commitment to wellness. When a person is dedicated to recovery and has a lot of support and coping methods available, outpatient alcohol detox may be a good fit.1

Risks of Outpatient Alcoholism Detox

Man looking out of window thinkingThe greatest risk of outpatient alcohol detox is lack of follow-through by the individual. Since no one at an outpatient clinic is being monitored 24 hours a day, someone could easily cancel or just not show up for a detox appointment. This may mean that the person is sober but not ready to follow through with appointments, or it may mean that a person has taken up drinking again.

Any outpatient drug or alcohol program has the same risk. People in recovery are on the honor system for staying sober during their period of treatment. Unfortunately, anyone who slips in a drink now and then is only doing themselves a disservice. They may even get away with it by avoiding detox appointments or skipping outpatient counseling sessions. While this may mean that the recovering person needs a higher level of care, no one can force them to do so.

“Prior to seeking treatment, I knew that I was an addict,” writes Matt C. for Heroes in Recovery. “Then one day when the pain got bad enough I sought out treatment and went to detox. It was weird because I had never met anybody who actually reached out and got better. …It was all new to me and I was pretty surprised when I went to a treatment center that there were people who were getting better and there were people who came into the facility and talked about how good their lives had become.”

More About Outpatient Detox Options

Though it is not offered by Michael’s House, outpatient alcohol detox programs may be offered in a variety of locations in your community. Some detox centers are stand-alone facilities. Others may be located in a large drug and alcohol treatment center. You may even find some outpatient programs housed within a medical center or hospital.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction, Michael’s House can help. We offer alcohol detox as part of our comprehensive addiction treatment programs, just not at the outpatient level. If you’d like to speak with someone about what all we have to offer, give us a call at 760-548-4032.


1 Motoi Hayashida, M.D., Sc.D. “An Overview of Outpatient and Inpatient Detoxification.” NIAAA. 16 June 2014. Web. Accessed 19 Nov 2017.