What is Outpatient Treatment?

When you’re in the grip of substance abuse, it’s natural to seek any type of help you can get. However, attempts at support from family and friends can sometimes make things worse, so you’ll need the help of professionals to kick your substance habit and get back to living life fully. Different types of treatment are best for particular types of substance abuse, and an intensive inpatient program might not be the right option for everyone.

Thankfully, there are a variety of professional substance abuse treatment programs available, and these addiction programs are tailored to help people who are all across the scale of addiction. If a number of prerequisites are in place, you or someone you love might qualify for this type of substance abuse assistance. Learn more about outpatient treatment before you can determine whether or not this type of help is right for your situation.

What Is Outpatient Treatment?

When you think about addiction treatment, the image that probably comes to mind is a live-in situation in which people with substance use issues are constantly monitored by facility staff. While this type of approach might be appropriate under certain circumstances, it certainly isn’t the only type of addiction treatment there is. Many substance abuse centers that look after patients 24/7 also offer outpatient treatment, which is a much more convenient way to get help while keeping up with responsibilities related to work and family

Not everyone who is dealing with a substance use disorder is able to simply drop their job, schooling, or other obligations to go live in an addiction center full time. Substance abuse centers attempt to accommodate these people by offering a part-time option that consists of coming in for help a few times per week. The efficacy of outpatient treatment programs varies. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has found that many outpatient treatment programs simply consist of drug education. Some of these programs don’t offer the types of help that users truly need to get clean and sober.

Other substance abuse facilities, however, offer comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation services. While patients don’t need to live in the facility when taking part in these types of programs, facility staff members offer many of the same services that they offer during inpatient treatment. Outpatient rehabilitation may also be a better idea than an inpatient program if a person’s issue with substances isn’t that severe. For instance, if a person wants to seek help with their alcohol addiction but they are able to function in their job despite their disorder, multiple weekly visits to a rehabilitation center may be more effective than committing to a full-time program that requires them to put their lives on hold until they get better.

What Are the Benefits of Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient rehab may be beneficial to users for a number of reasons. One of the most significant benefits of this type of therapy is that it can be applied within a variety of settings. While most types of outpatient treatment are applied in rehab facilities, this type of assistance can also be delivered in the following settings:

  • Hospitals
  • Mental health clinics
  • Local health departments
  • Therapists’ offices

While this type of rehabilitation may be most effective when it is administered in a clinical setting, this flexibility allows patients to seek help through whatever means is most convenient for them. Rehabilitation providers understand that their patients have busy schedules, so they tailor treatment to fit the daily needs of the people they are trying to help.

It’s important to point out that not all patients should be given this sort of freedom. For instance, patients who have home lives that spur their addiction or who are surrounded by other users should certainly seek inpatient help. In addition, if a patient displays that they are incapable of making healthy decisions, they should be admitted to an inpatient facility rather than undergoing outpatient therapy.

A conscientious and qualified rehabilitation center will carefully examine a patient before determining whether inpatient or outpatient rehab is called for in their situation. Substance abuse rehab staff members understand the importance of dispensing assistance that is commensurate with a patient’s situation. That is why it’s crucial to be honest with facility staff about your needs before proceeding to receive help.

What Types of Therapies Are Used?

Most outpatient addiction facilities offer various types of assistance programs to help users overcome their substance abuse. Facility staff members are trained to understand the struggles that users will go through as they kick their habits, and they are prepared to provide individualized assistance based on each person’s needs.

Once the initial detoxification process ends, the next stage of recovery begins. Addiction specialists are equipped to handle this process, which is known as post-acute withdrawal (PAW).

While the initial symptoms of withdrawal are dangerous enough to a user’s health, PAW can be an even greater threat to a patient’s long-term recovery. Since addictive substances alter a person’s mood and perception of reality, they may be incapable of interacting healthily with their perceptions in the absence of their drug of choice. The process of retooling their perspective can take weeks or even months.

The outpatient therapy process is highly focused on providing patients with the skills they need to stay clean and sober. Understanding a factor like PAW is one aspect of this sort of therapy. Facility staff will also provide counseling on how to manage cravings for drugs, and they will impart knowledge regarding the way that the brain works when you are addicted to a substance. Additionally, these addiction specialists will help patients understand how the disease known as addiction progresses, and they will introduce patients to the benefits of 12-step programs.

The Importance of 12-Step Programs<.h3>

While substance abuse therapy experts will never force a patient into a 12-step program, many will certainly extol the benefits of these programs. Scientific research has indicated that 12-step programs are, in fact, highly effective in helping users overcome their substance abuse issues.

It’s important to note that these programs are somewhat controversial in the medical community, and some researchers dispute the necessity of their quasi-spiritual components. However, most experts agree that 12-step programs provide patients with a safe environment where they can enjoy social cohesion with others who have gone through similar struggles.

What Is IOP?

IOP stands for Intensive Outpatient Treatment, and it may be the right type of rehabilitation for a person who has a significant issue with a substance but who is not in need of detoxification. In other cases, IOP may also be used with patients who have completed an inpatient detox program and remain in need of other types of support. As the name implies, this type of rehabilitation is more intensive than other types of outpatient therapy, but it still gives patients the power to maintain their job or school schedules while they seek help for their addiction problem.

What Is Partial Hospitalization?

This type of rehabilitation is more intensive than other types of therapy, but it is still outpatient in nature. Partial hospitalization is also known as “day treatment.” This type of rehabilitation takes up a bigger chunk of a patient’s day than therapy options that are less intensive.

This type of rehabilitation is considered to be an alternative to inpatient rehab. It is often used for patients who have a significant history of addiction but also where the prerequisites aren’t in place to recommend inpatient rehabilitation. Ideal candidates for this type of rehabilitation include people who need medication or other types of therapy to help with their substance use problem. Partial hospitalization programs may require a patient to go to the substance abuse facility for up to 20 hours out of every week. For comparison, less intensive rehabilitation programs require 10 hours or less of weekly therapy.

When Might Inpatient Treatment Be a Better Idea?

Proponents of outpatient treatment for drug addiction contend that this type of rehabilitation allows users to test how far they’ve come. One of the main issues with inpatient rehabilitation is that people often make a lot of progress while they’re inside the facility but then relapse when they’re exposed to the triggers present in their home environment.

Some experts believe that rehabilitation that allows patients to remain in their homes gives patients the opportunity to test their recovery efforts against their addiction triggers. However, the triggers that some patients are confronted with may make it impossible for them to overcome their substance use issues. For these patients, inpatient rehab is the only option.

To decide which type of rehabilitation is right for a patient, the staff at a treatment center will need to accurately assess both the patient’s home situation and their psychological resilience to addiction triggers. Therapy options that keep people at home and options that require them to stay full time in a facility both have their benefits and negative aspects. Determining which type of therapy is correct for a patient is a decision that only a qualified addiction specialist can make.

What to Do Before You Seek Help

Before you seek out the assistance of an outpatient center for yourself or for someone you care about, it’s important to make sure that you know enough about the situation to get the right kind of treatment. You’ll need to know:

  • How long the person has been abusing a substance or substances
  • How much of the substance or substances are being used on a regular basis
  • What types of drugs are being abused
  • If the person has any medical issues or diseases that could impact the rehabilitation process
  • If the person has any mental health disorders

In addition, you’ll need to be prepared to answer payment questions. Check which type of insurance is accepted, and be prepared to provide policy information. Also, make sure that you inquire about the availability of payment assistance options such as loans, scholarships, and special financing.

Is an Assessment Required to Seek Help?

Most outpatient facilities require that potential patients submit to an assessment before starting an addiction program. In this assessment, facility staff may ask the potential patient a number of questions and observe their behavior to determine which type of intervention is needed. This assessment is important for a number of reasons. First, it helps the staff learn more about their potential patient. The initial assessment also clarifies whether or not a more intensive program might be a better option.

In addition to a verbal and an observational assessment, treatment facilities will also often include a medical assessment in which an addiction specialist determines a patient’s physical condition. A patient’s medical history is usually reviewed as part of these assessments, and drug tests may also be used to determine the extent of a patient’s addiction. In general, facility staff will try to achieve a detailed understanding of the patient’s overall health and well-being to better provide the services that he or she will need to recover.