Outpatient Drug Rehab

When looking at your addiction treatment options, you may want to consider outpatient care to meet your needs. Learn more about this type of drug addiction treatment and discover whether this is the right type of substance abuse treatment program for you.

What Is Outpatient Drug Rehab?

Outpatient drug rehab is an addiction recovery program option that is ideal for individuals with a milder addiction, and those who may need more flexibility in their treatment services. Outpatient treatment may also be recommended for individuals that have completed an inpatient treatment program and are seeking continued addiction recovery support.

Patients who choose an outpatient drug rehab program will be allowed to remain in their homes, and in many cases can continue to work their jobs and attend family functions. Outpatient care is much less restrictive than inpatient programs, which typically require a minimum 30-day residential stay at an inpatient facility.

Outpatient addiction treatment does offer a few options for various levels of care, including partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatments.

An outpatient drug rehab center may be the right solution for a person who has:

  • A milder addiction
  • A strong support system
  • Reliable transportation for regular clinic trips
  • Strong motivation to stick with their treatment and attend all sessions
  • Lower relapse risk

Outpatient Drug Rehab vs Inpatient Drug Rehab

When choosing the right type of treatment program for you and your addiction recovery plan, you’ll discover that there are inpatient and outpatient options available.

Ideally, you and your physician (or similar healthcare provider) will discuss what would be right for you in your recovery plan, but it can help to have an understanding of the differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab care.

Outpatient Drug Rehab

Outpatient rehab programs provide addiction recovery services at a much less intense level of care compared to inpatient treatment. Outpatient rehab facilities provide continued support, therapy, medical care, and accountability without requiring the patient to live at the facility.

Outpatient drug addiction treatment is a great option for addicts who have a more minor addiction, may not have any previous history with substance abuse, and/or might want something with a lesser time commitment than inpatient rehab.

Additionally, outpatient rehab programs often provide an important stepping stone for recovering addicts once they have completed an inpatient program. Through many outpatient drug rehab centers, patients can continue to receive important medical care and therapies related to drug addiction recovery as they adjust to life outside an inpatient or residential facility.

Like inpatient drug rehab facilities, there are outpatient rehab centers that are tailored to more specific drug use, such as opioid addiction or even alcohol addiction. Be sure to take a look at the different outpatient facilities in your area and what they offer.

  • An offsite treatment facility for patients to visit throughout the week
  • Requires roughly 10 – 30 hours of time per week
  • Medical care is provided, including detox services
  • Variety of therapy and mental health support provided
  • An ideal solution for a milder addiction
  • It may also be recommended for patients after completing inpatient rehab

Inpatient Drug Rehab

The main difference between inpatient and outpatient services is the level of care provided. These addiction treatment programs also differ in their structure. While outpatient care provides addiction recovery treatment in an offsite facility for the addict to visit during the week, inpatient treatment occurs in a residential or “live-in” setting.

Inpatient programs for drug addiction recovery are designed to create a day-to-day structure to help the patient re-establish better, healthier habits. Inpatient drug rehab also provides round-the-clock medical support, which may be necessary for more severe addiction cases or patients with additional health issues.

  • An on-site, residential treatment facility with a very structured daily schedule
  • Patients check-in and stay for roughly 30 to 90 days
  • Medical care is provided, including detox services
  • Variety of therapy and mental health support provided
  • Often recommended for serious addictions or those with prior substance abuse

Types of Outpatient Drug Rehab

There are a few treatment options when it comes to outpatient rehab programs.

The main types of outpatient drug treatment centers are:

  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

The specific outpatient treatment program you select will depend on a variety of factors, including your desired level of care alongside any recommendations from your physician or healthcare provider.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

An Intensive Outpatient Program, or IOP, is often the right outpatient treatment facility for someone who has recently completed an inpatient rehab program. An IOP provides the shortest time commitment of the common outpatient programs, usually taking up about 10-20 hours per week.

An IOP will have a strong focus on mental and behavioral health, with multiple group therapy options. The goal of the IOP is to provide the recovering addict with a support system of peers while helping the patient practice better habits to use in their daily lives.

It should be noted that an IOP will not offer detox services, but can often refer you to a nearby facility that provides medical detox.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Another form of outpatient drug addiction treatment is the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). Partial hospitalization programs are sometimes referred to as “day treatment,” as they require a lengthier daily commitment than an intensive outpatient program.

In many cases, partial hospitalization programs do offer medical detox services at the start of their program. Similar to inpatient rehab, PHPs offer medical care alongside behavioral therapy and treatment.

However, unlike residential or inpatient addiction care, a partial hospitalization rehab facility is designed to allow the patient to return home at the end of the day.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is sometimes included alongside your individual treatment plan and is available through most outpatient rehab facilities.

Medication-assisted treatment is what it sounds like. A physician may prescribe a medication to assist you through your recovery.

The three main goals of Medication-Assisted Treatment are:

  1. To manage acute withdrawal symptoms and help the body detox
  2. Reduce cravings or urge to use drugs
  3. Prevent relapse (i.e. future drug abuse)

Sometimes this medication will be designed to help you avoid cravings and mitigate the unpleasant side effects of withdrawal. Other times, MAT may be prescribed to help recovering addicts maintain their sobriety and avoid future relapse.

The type of medication-assisted therapy that might be recommended for you will depend on the severity and type of addiction you are experiencing.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the most commonly-prescribed MAT include:

For treatment of alcohol use disorder:

  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone

For treatment of opioid use disorder:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone

Therapeutic Outpatient Rehab

Improvement of mental health is another important component of any outpatient rehab program and a major focus of both PHP and IOP. Behavioral therapy is designed to help the addict confront their negative thought patterns and work to establish new, healthier habits through talk therapy and outside assignments from their counselor.

A general breakdown of the types of therapies commonly offered at outpatient rehab centers are:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy is focused on discovering the negative thought patterns of the addict. Through one-on-one counseling, CBT aims to provide the recovering addict with better solutions and coping strategies. Often, a therapist will assign outside work such as reading, journaling, or habit-forming exercises to reinforce positive behaviors that will help the addict remain sober after their outpatient treatment has finished.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): This is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral therapy is designed especially for patients who are considered high-risk. The overall goal of this therapy is focused on the patient learning to accept the circumstances that led them to addiction, then finding more positive ways to work through those conditions. Through this therapy type, the recovering addict may also receive homework.
  • Group therapy: Most outpatient rehab programs offer group therapy as a way for recovering addicts to find support in a peer group. Group therapy helps patients to normalize their recovery by listening to similar experiences of other patients. It also provides a safe, non-judgemental space where people can grow together in their recovery process by providing one another with accountability and support.
  • 12-step programs: Named for the 12 steps that each participant must complete, 12-step programs provide a very clear outline of tasks to help the recovering addict process their experience and choose a sober lifestyle. 12-step programs are offered both at rehab facilities and in local community meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). That way, a patient who begins a 12-step program in rehab can continue working on their steps when they complete their rehab program.
  • Matrix model: The Matrix Model is especially beneficial for addicts recovering from stimulant drug addiction. This type of therapy often includes drug testing alongside a variety of additional therapies (mentioned above), such as group counseling and cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions.
  • Family therapy: Another important aspect of recovery can often include repairing relationships with family and loved ones. Outpatient centers that offer family therapy are focused on helping the addict to both make amends with relatives and work through any hurt caused through their addiction, as well as to address any family issues that contributed to the addict’s poor choices.

If there is a particular type of therapy you are most interested in, check ahead of time to see what types of therapy any particular clinic offers.

Benefits of Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab can be extremely beneficial for the right person. There are several benefits to choosing an outpatient rehab drug center.

The benefits of outpatient rehab include:

  • Less expensive
  • Ability to attend work and other commitments
  • Medical detox provided (in PHP setting)
  • Great for providing a stepping stone after completing inpatient care

While inpatient drug rehab provides a very strict daily structure, outpatient drug rehab gives patients the ability to maintain some of their regular day-to-day lifestyles, such as work or family obligations.

Ultimately what you choose can depend on your financial ability as well as the time commitment you are able to make. Your doctor or medical professional can help you determine which type of program is best to manage your substance abuse recovery.

Factors in Choosing Outpatient Drug Rehab

So how do you know if an outpatient drug rehab center is right for you? There are a few factors you might want to consider.

Overall Lifestyle Needs

Everything from time away from work and up-front costs to childcare and family obligations can factor into your decision about the right type of drug rehab treatment for you. Thankfully, outpatient rehab programs require a much lesser time commitment than inpatient programs.

Outpatient programs are also relatively less expensive, making them sometimes more feasible for people—especially those without insurance coverage.

Level of Commitment to Overcoming Addiction

Before choosing any type of drug rehab program, you should consider your overall willingness to make this big life step. While choosing to get sober and learn to make better choices is vitally important to your overall health, this is not a choice to be made lightly.

If possible, make sure you have really considered this amazing choice you have made for your future so you can approach your upcoming journey with your full buy-in.

Guidance From Your Physician

A substance abuse assessment will go a long way in helping you determine the level of care that is going to be ideal for your level of addiction and current circumstances.

Whenever possible, speak with a doctor or other healthcare provider about your decision to tackle your addiction and request a substance abuse assessment. This analysis can provide great insight into what will be ideal for you in the days ahead.

Does Outpatient Drug Rehab Sound Right for You?

If you think outpatient drug rehab sounds like the right solution for you or a loved one, you can find centers that are near to you by checking out the SAMHSA program locator.

Frequently Asked Questions About Outpatient Rehab

How long does a patient stay in outpatient rehab?

Outpatient drug rehab is meant to provide a steady solution for those who are combating addiction, so the timeline may vary. There is not really a fixed timeline for outpatient treatment, as it is meant to provide both an immediate solution (for some users) and a long-term maintenance solution for those looking to remain sober and free of drug use.

How much does outpatient drug rehab cost?

Outpatient rehab centers are less expensive than inpatient treatment facilities since they are much less time-consuming than the latter. The price of outpatient rehab can vary based on the facility, the type of outpatient care you opt for, the length of time you spend in outpatient care, and the offerings of the center itself.

Insurance may also provide some financial relief in some cases, so it’s also a good idea to check with your individual insurance provider to learn what coverage they offer for outpatient addiction rehab.

Does insurance cover outpatient drug rehab?

Different insurance plans offer different types of coverage when it comes to outpatient drug rehab. Your best bet is to check with your individual provider to see what options are available to you on your specific plan.

How do you prevent a relapse after outpatient rehab?

Relapse can be an unfortunate occurrence for many recovering addicts as they work towards a better, healthier life. However, because addiction is a degenerative disease, relapse does NOT mean that treatment has failed.

There are still ways to support relapse prevention, such as:

  • Providing an adequate, strong support system
  • Continued participation in outpatient programs
  • Reliance upon support groups or external programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) for peer support and 12-step program structure
  • Continuing to take any prescribed medication (as directed) designed to combat cravings

Aftercare is a critical piece of recovery, and the family and friends of recovering addicts can lend their support through encouragement, accountability, and overall positive reinforcement.

Reviewed by:Chris Carberg

Addiction Guide Founder & Mental Health Advocate

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Chris Carberg is a visionary digital entrepreneur, the Founder of Addiction Guide, and a long-time recovering addict from prescription opioids, sedatives, and alcohol.  Over the past 15 years, Chris has worked as a tireless advocate for addicts and their loved ones, while becoming a sought-after digital entrepreneur. Chris is a storyteller and aims to share his story with others in the hopes of helping them achieve their own recovery.

Written by:

Content Manager

Jessica Miller is a USF graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She has written professionally for over a decade, from HR scripts and employee training to business marketing and company branding. In addition to writing, Jessica spent time in the healthcare sector (HR) and as a high school teacher. She has personally experienced the pitfalls of addiction and is delighted to bring her knowledge and writing skills together to support our mission. Jessica lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband and two dogs.

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