Having a drink from time to time may not be anything to worry about. Drinking alcohol is part of many cultures, and it’s normal to have a glass of wine or a beer with friends, at the pub, or dinner.
However, excessive drinking is a problem – potentially a very serious one. Unhealthy drinking habits put you at risk of developing alcohol addiction (when you compulsively seek and use alcohol) and alcohol dependence (when your body becomes reliant on alcohol to function normally). Both mental health conditions can cause serious damage to your health, work, and family life.
The good news is that there is a way out. Decades of scientific research have uncovered evidence-based treatment approaches that effectively treat alcohol addiction and guide you to sobriety. Each year, residential alcohol addiction treatment programmes support hundreds of thousands of people in the UK to reclaim a sober life.
What is 'Residential' Treatment?
Residential treatment is when you stay at the addiction treatment centre where you attend your recovery programme. Residential treatment (also known as inpatient treatment) offers 24-hour professional support, a controlled environment, and a break from the distractions of everyday life.
Inpatient programmes are usually suitable for clients with more severe addictions, co-occurring mental health disorders, or unstable home environments. However, each person is different, and you should talk to a mental health professional or treatment provider to determine the best option for you. Many people move between levels of care, starting in residential treatment before moving on to part-time outpatient programmes. While the cheapest options may be accessed through your local authority, many residential treatment programs are privately funded.
Benefits of Removing Yourself from the Home Environment
Residential treatment offers several unique benefits over outpatient care.
A Focused Environment
Addiction recovery isn’t easy. Leaving behind drug abuse requires introspection, focus, and hard work as you learn to identify the causes of your behaviours and develop the skills to overcome them.
During your stay in a treatment centre, you’re away from the distractions and stresses of daily life. It helps you to focus your time and energy on treatment sessions, personal growth, and recovery so you can make the most out of your treatment experience. Some centres also take care of daily tasks – like cleaning or preparing meals – to free up more time for yourself.
Residential centres are safe environments, free from alcohol and drugs. You’re also less likely to encounter the triggers (environmental cues) that you associate with alcohol, such as places you usually drink or people you drink with. Triggers can cause intense cravings and are a main cause of relapse – removing them makes early recovery easier and helps you concentrate on treatment.
Residential centres usually have staff on hand around the clock to offer medical and psychological support. During the detox period, this can be essential to ensure your safety in the event of any severe withdrawal symptoms.
During the later parts of recovery, staff can help you through moments of crisis and challenging times, whenever they occur. Whether you need medical help, psychological support, or just someone to talk to, there will be someone there.
A Sense of Community
Finally, residential centres promote a sense of community – notably, a sober community. Many people make lifelong friends during residential stays that continue to support them throughout their recovery journey. Having sober friends can be especially important in early recovery when many people have to look for new and sober ways to spend their time.
Living in a communal environment also offers the chance to build, develop, and reinforce interpersonal skills that you learn in therapy sessions, laying the foundations for strong future relationships.
What does Residential Alcohol Treatment Include?
Residential alcohol treatment usually involves two or three stages: detox, rehab (therapy), and sometimes aftercare.
- Detox – Detox, short for detoxification, is the process of removing all traces of alcohol and its harmful toxins from your body. If unsupervised, alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous – and in severe cases, lethal. During inpatient detox, medical staff are on-hand 24/7 to ensure your safety and manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
- Rehab – Rehab involves long-term addiction treatment approaches aimed at promoting lasting abstinence. Most treatment programmes offer individualized treatment plans, tailored to the needs of each individual. They may combine several different evidence-based treatment approaches led by licensed therapists, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, group programming, family therapy, and couples therapy.
- Aftercare – Recovery is a lifelong process, and it’s normal to face challenges and difficult times – especially in early recovery. Many treatment centres offer aftercare programmes to connect you with local services and provide continued support in the years ahead.
Recovery from addiction is a holistic process that involves entire-person healing, introspection, and personal growth. Residential treatment centres may offer complementary activities such as meditation and acupuncture to help clients relieve emotional distress and discover alternative coping mechanisms. Centres may also prepare balanced, nutritious meals to help promote healthy habits and free up more time for healing.
Residential Treatment Programmes
Fully-residential programmes offer specialized accommodation facilities on the treatment site. Accommodation facilities are usually modern and comfortable, with separate bedrooms or shared rooms. Most centres offer recreational facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, and art rooms for clients to relax after treatment and to encourage good self-care practices. Fully-residential programmes may involve scheduled meal times and collective eating, specified wake-up times, and designated hours for relaxation.
Quasi-Residential and Sober-Living Houses
In quasi-residential programmes, residents attend treatment in the daytime and stay in sober-living houses at night and weekends.
Sober-living houses are residencies shared exclusively by individuals in the recovery process. They offer a halfway alternative to inpatient and outpatient treatment, providing semi-independent living in a safe and controlled environment. Residents can come and go from sober-living facilities as they please, and usually prepare their meals.
While living at a sober-living home, residents must follow certain rules – the most important being the prohibition of alcohol and drugs on the premises. They may be offered transport to and from a treatment programme each day. Sober-living houses help avoid some of the triggers of the home environment and help individuals remain committed and dedicated to the recovery process, surrounded by others with the same goal.
Alternatives to Residential Treatment for Alcoholism
Despite its benefits, residential treatment isn’t for everyone. Some people are unable to afford the higher cost of inpatient treatment or prefer to choose a cheaper option, especially if they have less severe alcohol dependencies. Others may be unable to take a complete break from their everyday life to attend rehab – they may have home and work responsibilities to fulfil and need to fit their treatment around certain duties and obligations.
The alternative, outpatient programmes, involve regular visits to a treatment centre while you continue to live at home. Outpatient programmes vary in intensity – from several hours a day to a few hours a week. Community-based approaches may also involve self-organized support groups, where people in recovery come together to offer mutual support.
Home Alcohol Detox Services
Home alcohol detox services support individuals through alcohol withdrawal, providing medical guidance and support without admission to a residential centre. A recent systematic review showed that home detox is safe and has high completion rates.
Home detox programmes usually begin with a suitability assessment to assess whether an at-home detox could work for you. Your doctor may consider your alcohol consumption, co-occurring mental health conditions, and other factors. If you go ahead with home detox, you will work with a support buddy who will administer medication and monitor your withdrawal symptoms. You will regularly visit a medical practitioner – usually every day for the first four or five days. Home detox services typically offer 24/7 telephone support throughout the process.
Free NHS Alcohol Support Services
The NHS can fund access to outpatient services (such as behavioural therapy) and can connect you with local support groups. You may also be able to receive access to some residential treatment programs, which are managed by your local authority (although some authorities are unable to fund the costs of residential treatment).
While using services can be effective, you may have to wait to receive treatment. Residential treatment may involve a suitability assessment and may be more difficult to access if you have less severe alcohol use problems. Long admissions processes can also make seeking treatment harder and less appealing, preventing individuals from accessing the help they need.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment at UKHD
UKHD offers bespoke addiction recovery programmes for alcohol use disorder that meet your unique needs. Our in-depth assessment process helps us determine the most suitable treatment plan for you, so you can reach your recovery goals. We combine up-to-date, evidence-based treatment technologies with holistic whole-person support to promote comprehensive and long-lasting recovery.
With our expert support, you can leave behind alcohol abuse and reclaim a meaningful, fulfilling life. Contact us today to make the change.