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Once an alcoholic has become alcohol-free, often through detox at alcohol rehab centers, there is still a long way to go in treating the disease and laying the groundwork for long-term sobriety. In some cases it is necessary to do this work in a residential setting, but in others it may be possible to enroll in an "intensive outpatient" program.
Such programs usually include individual and group therapy, aimed at relapse prevention and establishing a new alcohol-free life. They sometimes include urinalysis to detect relapses.
For people committed to recovery who have supportive families and stable home lives, outpatient programs can help build the bridge to sobriety while maintaining jobs and relationships. Unfortunately, rates of relapse tend to be fairly high with such programs, partly because many patients are referred by courts (and thus less likely to be motivated toward change), and partly because patients have many hours a day outside of the program when they can experience cravings without support for dispelling them. The perception of "normality" that comes with maintaining the addict's old home life may also lead the addict to believe everything is OK and change is not needed.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|