Alcohol Rehab: Types, Costs & When to Go
In This Article
Alcohol Rehab: Types, Costs and What to Expect
Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical condition that occurs when someone can’t stop or control their alcohol use. An AUD can lead to adverse social, occupational, or health-related consequences.
Alcohol use disorder encompasses various conditions, including:
- Alcohol abuse
- Alcohol dependence
- Alcohol addiction
AUD is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that can be mild, moderate, or severe. Lasting changes in the brain resulting from alcohol addiction can make people vulnerable to relapse.1 However, no matter how severe the problem may seem, treatment can help people with AUD achieve and maintain recovery.
People often believe there are only two options for alcohol treatment – Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and residential rehab. However, there are plenty of other alcohol rehab options and treatments backed by science.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
Signs and symptoms of an AUD may include:2
- Being unable to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink
- Aiming to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so
- Spending a lot of time drinking, finding alcohol, or recovering from alcohol use
- Experiencing an intense craving or urge to drink alcohol
- Failing to meet significant obligations at work, school, or home due to alcohol use
- Continuing to drink even though you know it's causing physical, social, work, or relationship problems
- Giving up or limiting social and work activities and hobbies to drink alcohol
- Using alcohol in circumstances where it's not safe. For example, when driving or swimming
- Developing a tolerance to alcohol or having a reduced effect from the same amount
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you don't drink or drinking to avoid symptoms (e.g., nausea, sweating, and shaking)
Types of Alcohol Rehab
Inpatient alcohol treatment centers provide 24-hour rehab and care. They give people access to on-call medical and psychiatric services during their stay.
Residential amenities and services vary. However, all include a variety of recovery programming, like individual and group counseling, coping skills education, and relapse prevention.
Most inpatient centers offer 30 to 90-day programs to allow people to focus solely on their recovery without distractions.
Remaining in treatment for a sufficient amount of time can be critical to recovery. The amount of time needed in rehab is based on the severity of the addiction and other personal needs. Research shows at least 90 treatment days optimize recovery outcomes.4
Partial Hospitalization Programs
A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is also known as day programming. This type of program provides a relatively intensive level of care. However, it’s in a more flexible environment than residential inpatient treatment.
PHPs allow people to attend treatment during the day before going back home. During PHP, you’ll check in 5 days a week, receiving 4 hours of group therapy daily.
Day programming suits people with relatively stable living environments and stronger support networks. Eligibility of PHP is often based on a physician’s assessment of a person’s necessary level of care. PHP treatment may not be suitable for people with relatively severe cases of alcoholism or co-occurring disorders.
Outpatient rehab can operate in a variety of settings.
These settings include:
- Hospital clinics
- Counselor’s offices
- Community mental health clinics
- Inpatient rehab facilities
Treatment times may be limited to a few hours during the week, mainly evenings and weekends. Attendance requirements differ by program. Some programs offer daily sessions while others only meet 1 to 3 times per week.
People can live at home while in treatment. This provides the flexibility that many need to meet family or work obligations. People attending outpatient treatment need a stable home environment that’s alcohol and drug-free.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves using medications with counseling and behavioral therapies. This provides a ‘whole-person’ approach to substance use disorders like alcoholism.
Medicines used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). MAT programs are clinically driven and custom-made to meet each person’s needs.5
The combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat disorders like AUD. For some people struggling with addiction, MAT can help maintain recovery.
What Happens in Alcohol Rehab
The initial step toward recovery involves a detox. When someone has developed a significant physical dependence on alcohol and decides to quit, alcohol withdrawal symptoms may develop.3
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are often unpleasant and, in severe cases, life-threatening. Medical detox is a challenging but necessary part of early alcohol recovery.
During detox, the body rids itself of alcohol while medical staff keep the person as safe and comfortable as possible.
Every detox center has its own set of specialized plans and protocols, and may include:
- Emotional support
- Stress management
- Other complementary therapeutic approaches
Therapies Used in Alcohol Rehab
Alcohol rehab programs offer a variety of treatment options, including:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Motivational interviewing
- 12-Step facilitation
- Yoga and meditation
- Art and music therapy
What a Day in Rehab Looks Like
Most daily rehab programs begin early in the morning. Usually, one to two group classes or meetings occur around this time.
After lunch, there’s usually some free time. However, you’ll typically be closely monitored during the first few weeks because of the detox period. More group classes or meetings typically take place in the afternoon.
In the evening, there’s usually more free time. There may be an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) speaker and other nightly activities. After these structured events, people can return to their group to relax and watch TV from around 9 to 10 pm.
Throughout the day and evening, there will be medication time. Before bedtime, people are given any medications they’re taking.
How Long Alcohol Rehab Lasts
Every form of addiction is unique. It’s essential to realize that how long it takes for you to recover from alcoholism will be different than for other people.
However, the general length of rehab programs is:
- 30-day programs
- 60-day programs
- Extended programs, like sober living centers or halfway houses
When choosing a program, focus on what will bring you the highest opportunity for long-term success. Most people need at least 3 months in treatment to become sober and plan for continued recovery.
Typically, the best outcomes occur with long periods of treatment. Lengthier treatment programs can seem intimidating at first. However, they may bring you the best results.
Alcohol Treatment Aftercare
Going to rehab is the first and most crucial step for many battling alcoholism. However, it’s only one step. The 30 to 90 days most people spend in rehab is only a small period compared to the many years that follow in recovery.
For many, adjusting to life following rehab is more challenging. This is due to the loss of a treatment routine and the reintroduction of external factors and influences. Many programs, organizations, and resources are available to help people recovering from alcoholism stay sober after rehab.
Some alcohol treatment aftercare options include:
- Facility-based programs
- Sober living homes
- Therapy and counseling
- Support groups
Alcohol Rehab Costs and Insurance Coverage
The fees of a rehab program vary widely. It depends on the type of treatment facility and whether you join an inpatient, outpatient, or a different kind of program.
Some programs from non-profit centers are free, while luxury centers for celebrities can cost up to $80,000. Most typical treatment centers fall between $2,000 and $25,000 a month.
The price of rehab varies depending on:
- Services included
The insurance coverage you receive varies by your plan. However, many health insurers cover at least some treatment expenses.
Reach out to your insurance provider to determine if you or a loved one can receive coverage for alcohol addiction treatment.
When to Seek Help
- Feel like you must drink
- Can’t control how much you drink
- Feel bad when you can’t drink
It may be time to seek help from a doctor or health professional. Together you can begin to make a treatment plan. Your doctor can also refer you to a treatment facility or experts who can help.
Call to find out how much your insurance will cover
- Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), April 2021
- Alcohol use disorder, Mayo Clinic, May 2022
- Alcohol withdrawal, MedlinePlus, January 2021
- NIDA. "Principles of Effective Treatment." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 18 Sep. 2020
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), May 2022
- Mason, Barbara J, and Charles J Heyser. “Alcohol Use Disorder: The Role of Medication in Recovery.” Alcohol research : current reviews vol. 41,1 07. 3 Jun. 2021
- Witkiewitz, K et al. “Advances in the science and treatment of alcohol use disorder.” Science advances vol. 5,9 eaax4043. 25 Sep. 2019