Outpatient addiction treatment, as the name suggests, is a non-residential, therapy-based treatment program for drug and alcohol addiction. Unlike inpatient addiction treatment, this type of treatment doesn’t include onsite living arrangements. An individual with an addiction problem isn’t required to spend a certain period of time, such as 90-days, in a rehab center. Instead, they live independently and attend therapy sessions according to their treatment plan.
The most notable difference between an inpatient and outpatient treatment program is found in the concept behind each type of treatment. In the Inpatient setting, patient length of stay can vary between 28 and 90 days, all of which require a person to remain in the rehab center. Usually, this level of care is reserved for patients with a more severe or complex addiction to drugs and alcohol as the setting provides a more intense support system. Inpatient treatment provides a stable, structured environment allowing a person to focus on recovery and avoid outside distractions that would jeopardize their recovery.
Much more flexible, outpatient rehab allows a person to live in their home, and their life continues as usual, outside of treatment. This level of care is more suitable for mild addiction related symptoms or, in many cases, a person may continue working their treatment plan in the outpatient setting after being discharged or stepped down from an inpatient program. Nonetheless, both types of treatment intensities, despite different concepts, have unique advantages and outstanding potential to help individuals combat drug or alcohol addiction.
If you search for “drug rehab near me,” you can see a lot of options for both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers. The exact treatment intensity depends on the severity of the addiction. Unfortunately, there is no easy “fix”. It is imperative that each individual enters the most appropriate setting to their unique symptoms and that the treatment program utilizes evidence based treatment.
An outpatient treatment setting may not be an ideal choice if you (or loved one) have severe or complex drug or alcohol addiction. In these cases, there is a significant risk of serious withdrawal symptoms and complications, and the individual should detox in a medically supervised setting. In other instances, individuals with a poor support system, comorbid or other health conditions, or a history of relapse are less likely to benefit from an outpatient setting as a stand alone solution.
Once admitted into an outpatient treatment program, the individual continues to live at home or, in many cases, in a sober living residence, and come to the facility for treatment. The level of program intensity varies in terms of commitment and typically lessens in frequency as the individual progresses through their treatment plan and reaches new recovery goal milestones.
At the time of admissions, usually on the first visit , the individual receiving treatment meets with a clinician to identify the problem and begins to develop a treatment plan. The treatment plan consists of various goals for the treatment in order to make the therapy more effective. For that purpose, the clinician conducting the initial assessment will ask you (or a loved one) questions about drug or alcohol use, medical history, medications, mental health issues, family problems, employment, just to name a few.
Once the treatment plan is established, you will also get informed about the rules you’re expected to follow during the length of the program. For instance, many outpatient drug rehab programs require regular drug tests to make sure you’re not using drugs or drinking alcohol while you’re receiving treatment. Every individual who is enrolled in the outpatient treatment program is expected to attend therapy sessions regularly, as defined by your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have to complete some assignments outside the sessions.
Not all outpatient treatment programs are the same. The exact treatment is based on the substance to which a person is addicted, the severity of the addiction, and the stage of recovery. At RecoveryWorks, we follow the guidelines established by the American Society of Addiction Medicine and divide outpatient treatment into three levels of care:
The length of the outpatient drug rehab program may vary from one treatment center to another. RecoveryWorks Outpatient Treatment Programs offer a step-down approach where the frequency is decreased as the individual achieves their treatment milestones. In this case, the most intensive treatment and therapy sessions occur at the very beginning of the program, as the individual becomes more stable, their treatment plan becomes less intense.
To appropriately answer this question, we must address that no single addiction program can be viewed as a simple fix. Outpatient programs can be successful in helping people overcome their addiction to alcohol or drugs so long as the individual has been properly assessed and their presenting symptoms are appropriate for this care. In many cases, the combination of an outpatient program with a structured sober living home can be more effective than an inpatient treatment center. However, there is a long road to recovery, and you have to remain committed to maintain those results afterward. For that reason, it’s recommended to participate in a 12-step program, recovery community, or a recovery support program. This can also serve as motivation and the accountability you need to thrive beyond recovery.