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Inpatient Alcohol Detox vs. Outpatient Alcohol Detox

Choosing an alcohol detox program that works for you is an essential first step to overcoming your alcohol use disorder (AUD). As you conduct research, you will have probably seen options for inpatient and outpatient detox. We understand that you may be wondering what the difference is between inpatient alcohol detox versus outpatient alcohol detox and which program is best for you. 

What Is Alcohol Detox?

Alcohol detox is the process of discontinuing alcohol misuse and purging the body of all alcohol. It is the essential first step to recovery if you truly want to stop misusing alcohol. Furthermore, it is important to remember detox is not the same as addiction treatment. Without an addiction treatment program, there is a high probability you will relapse and return to drinking. 

Alcohol Detox Withdrawal Symptoms

The withdrawal symptoms experienced during alcohol detox range from mild and moderate to more severe. The symptoms you experience are largely related to how long you have misused alcohol, how much alcohol you drink, and the frequency you drink. Keeping this in mind, the following are common symptoms you could experience during detox:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Elevated Blood Pressure
  • “The Shakes”
  • Tremors
  • Seizures/DTs
  • Hot and Cold Flashes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stomach Cramping
  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea
  • Mood Swings
  • Lethargy
  • Abnormal Respiration Rates
  • Hallucinations
  • Problems Concentrating and Focusing
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight Loss 

Alcohol Detox Withdrawal Timeline

Within six to twenty-four hours after the last drink, the body will enter mild withdrawal, similar to the effects of a hangover. Usually, within a day or two, people will notice their withdrawal symptoms becoming more intense and moderate. 

The risk of more severe symptoms begins anywhere from twenty-four hours to three days after the last drink, such as seizures and delirium tremens (DTs). Most withdrawal symptoms will peak and be the worst in about three days to a week. 

After peaking, the symptoms gradually taper off until they fully subside. However, it is worth pointing out that these are the physical symptoms of alcohol detox withdrawal. People can still experience emotional and psychological withdrawal symptoms, referred to as PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome), for several months or longer.  

Inpatient Alcohol Detox Versus Outpatient Alcohol Detox

Inpatient alcohol detox occurs at a detox and rehab treatment facility. The person receives 24/7 medical supervision and monitoring throughout their alcohol detox. Part of the detox treatment can involve medication-assisted treatments to help ease and make withdrawal symptoms more manageable, as well as reduce the risks of seizures and DTs. 

Outpatient alcohol detox is a hybrid type of detox that requires you to visit a detox treatment facility for a few hours each day for minimal medical supervision. During these visits, you are given a medical examination, tested for alcohol use, and administered medication if it is part of your detox treatment. 

Advantages of Inpatient Detox

Inpatient alcohol detox is well-suited for people who have been misusing alcohol for a long time or excessively drink daily. These people are more likely to experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms that require medical supervision and monitoring. 

Other benefits include:

  • You are free to concentrate on your detox without outside distractions.
  • You have 24/7 access to medical staff.
  • You can have access to amenities available at the detox treatment facility. 
  • You can start your alcohol addiction treatment counseling. 
  • You do not run any risk of relapse. 

Disadvantages of Inpatient Detox

The only drawbacks are you will not be able to work or take care of your family. You will be responsible for taking time off work and finding someone to provide childcare for your children. 

Advantages of Outpatient Detox

Outpatient alcohol detox is well-suited for someone with mild AUD. For example, they may binge drink every weekend and not drink any alcohol the rest of the week. Other benefits of outpatient detox include:

  • You can continue working.
  • You can care for your family.
  • You get to return home each day. 

Disadvantages of Outpatient Detox

The biggest disadvantage of outpatient detox is when there is not a stable home and work environment with a solid support system. In addition, if you continue to stick to your current habits, keep alcohol in your home, and associate with others who drink, the risk of relapse is very likely. 

Furthermore, if your home life is challenging and disruptive, where it creates added stress and anxiety, you are more likely to give up on your detox treatment.    

Choosing an Alcohol Detox Program

Deciding whether an inpatient or outpatient alcohol detox program is best depends on your specific circumstances and needs. An inpatient detox program can range from five to fourteen days, depending on the extent of your addiction. 

An inpatient detox program also provides added support and care to help you manage moderate and severe withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, you will be better equipped to transition to an AUD treatment program. 

Another option when you have work and family obligations is completing inpatient detox and transitioning to an outpatient rehab program. Conversely, an outpatient detox program can be just as effective provided you are committed to the process, have a solid support system, and only have mild withdrawal symptoms.  

Medically Supervised Alcohol Detox in Columbus, OH

September is National Recovery Month. At Ohio Addiction Recovery Center in Columbus, OH, we understand it can be difficult to decide between inpatient alcohol detox versus outpatient alcohol detox treatment. We are here to help answer your questions so you can make an informed decision. When you undergo inpatient detox at our detox center, you are given access to our luxury facility and amenities, including exercise equipment, yoga, catered meals, counseling, group therapy, and much more. Contact us at 866-210-9094 to speak with a detox and addiction treatment specialist today.

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