Monday, 06 March 2017 00:49

Outpatient vs. Inpatient Detoxification (Part 2 of 4)

Written by

For many years, the only real option for drug or alcohol detoxification was inpatient treatment, either at a hospital or hospital-like facility.  There were many reasons for the limited choices.  Medications were of variable efficacy and symptom control was more limited given the few medications available.  As a result, managing withdrawal was complex and patients were often uncomfortable during the process.  There was also the belief that taking someone away from the "people, places and things" that contributed to relapse would give the addict "a break" from the addictive habits and associations that governed their lives.

Given these considerations, the prevailing philosophy regarding detoxification during the 1990's and early 2000's was to place the patient in a protected and somewhat isolated environment, separated from friends and family.  Although this might work for some, it can be problematic for others.  Patients often detox successfully, but when they return home they tend to relapse as they once again fall into their old habits and associations.  In addition, problems that were cast aside during detox loom large once the patient returns home.  Combining these liabilities with the fact that the patient is not yet anchored in a structured program of recovery (such as an outpatient intensive program) when he/she returns home, the relapse rate is generally quite high.

More recently, there has been a movement to have individuals undergo detoxification within their living environment, rather than removing them from it.  This has obvious advantages.
• The patient can engage in the therapy that will be ongoing long after detox is complete.
• It can allow counseling and medical staff to engage with families during detox, address specific environmental triggers for substance use and treat underlying psychiatric disorders.
• Due to recent advances in the medical management of detoxification (including a slew of new medications for symptom relief and control of cravings) this process can be accomplished comfortably over a period of two weeks or more (as opposed to the 4-5 day accelerated detox practiced at most hospitals), allowing the patient to maintain family responsibilities and engage in treatment simultaneously. 

In our experience, this seamless transition from outpatient detox to our outpatient intensive program has prevented patients from relapsing and has provided a treatment experience that is comfortable and effective.

For more information about INTER-CARE's Outpatient Detox Services, click here.
To make an appointment or to learn more about our services, please contact Ali Parisi at (212) 532-5804 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.