Pro’s and Con’s of Outpatient Drug Rehab

Outpatient drug rehab is a form of substance abuse treatment that does not include living at the facility. Outpatient treatment can vary widely, from partial hospitalization to 12-step meetings. Outpatient drug rehab programs allow you to continue to live at home during drug or alcohol rehabilitation. Outpatient drug rehab tends to cost less than residential or inpatient treatment, and it may be more suitable for those unable to take extended absences from work or personal obligations.

Before you choose a program, consider which type of outpatient treatment program will work best for you and ask some questions about the program – such as how much it costs, what kind of treatment it offers, and where it’s located.

  • Intensive outpatient: These programs are similar to inpatient residential programs with respect to service and effectiveness. The major focus is relapse prevention. Intensive outpatient programs usually meet at least 3 days a week for 2-4 hours a day or more. These programs are often scheduled around work or school to accommodate daily schedules.
  • Partial hospitalization: This treatment is specifically meant for people who require ongoing medical monitoring but have a stable living situation. Partial hospitalization treatment programs usually meet at the hospital for 3-5 days a week for at least 4-6 hours per day.
  • Outpatient Drug Rehab Counseling
    1 on 1 Counseling

    Therapy and counseling: These treatments are usually combined with other treatment methods or as follow-up support after inpatient rehabilitation. Therapy and counseling can help you identify the root cause of your drug use, repair relationships and learn healthier coping skills. Treatments include self-help programs like Narcotics Anonymous (following a 12-step model), behavioral therapy, group or individual therapy and family counseling.

Outpatient treatment can be extremely effective. Many who begin and continue treatment stop using drugs and improve their occupational, social and psychological functioning.

Everybody’s treatment needs are different based on their history of abuse, substance being abused, duration of abuse and much more. Depending on these factors, you may require varying combinations of services and treatment such as a combination of counseling or psychotherapy, medication, medical services and family therapy. Additionally, these needs may change as treatment and recovery progresses.

Therefore, make sure that the outpatient drug rehab program offers individual treatment plans and a continuing care approach where the treatment intensity varies over time according to your changing needs.

What to Expect from Outpatient Drug Rehab?

It is important to note that the exact program used in a recovery facility may differ greatly. However, all programs tend to include the following:

  • Patients enrolled in the program are expected to remain abstinent from recreational drugs or alcohol.
  • Patients begin with an initial assessment. During this initial assessment, it is possible to determine what the needs of the patient are. This provides a basis for forming a treatment plan and goal setting.
  • Patients agree to a weekly number of therapy sessions.
  • Oftentimes there are activities and seminars that the patient is expected to attend.
  • While attending rehab, there are specific rules that govern the behavior of the patient. The patient may be removed from the program if they do not abide by these rules.
  • If the treatment plan is proving ineffective, there may be a need to modify the existing plan.
  • Patients are expected to share personal information with therapists. Oftentimes this happens in one-on-one settings, but may also include group sessions that include other people.

There are a number of benefits in attending these selected rehab options, they may include:

  • The patient is able to remain employed or stay in school while they attend outpatient recovery. Those who would struggle to find time away from their commitments may find this to be highly advantageous.
  • The transition from recovery facility to home life is non-existent. Those who leave an inpatient program for the first time often have to adjust to having personal freedoms again. Unless there is an aftercare program in place, this transition can lead to a relapse. Because the patient is already going home at the end of each session, the program ending is not such a shock.
  • Some worry that they may be stigmatized by attending an inpatient facility. It may not be possible for someone to leave for several weeks on end without giving an actual explanation. If the patient is worried about discretion and privacy, attending an outpatient program is much easier to keep a secret.
  • When comparing the costs, an inpatient treatment facility is often much more expensive than an outpatient facility.
  • If the patient has a supportive family or sympathetic friends at home, they may be able to benefit from interacting with them when they go home every night.

Disadvantages of Outpatient Drug Rehab

As stated before, not everyone might benefit from outpatient drug rehab. There are a number of disadvantages to consider as well:

  • It is only natural that those who go home unsupervised face more temptation than those who remain in inpatient rehab. Because there is no restriction on their movements, it means they have to show more determination and willpower right from the start.
  • Those who do not stay in rehab will find that there is far less support available. Patients at an inpatient facility have the option to talk to professionals around the clock. It may feel empowering to be in close proximity to others who all share the same goal.
  • When attending outpatient recovery, there is a chance that the patient will have a number of distractions. Work commitments and family life do not take a breather as the patient transitions into a sober lifestyle.
  • The same triggers that led to the abuse of drugs and alcohol in the first place may still be present. When trying to stay sober, worrying about potential triggers is going to serve as a distraction.
  • There are both physical and emotional challenges throughout the first weeks of recovery. Withdrawal symptoms may prove to be problematic for weeks after the patient has last used drugs or alcohol. During inpatient rehab, a professional can generally help with these situations. In the outside world, this level of help is unlikely.

Outpatient Drug Rehab isn’t for everyone. If you need more supervision or want to get away from your surroundings look at Inpatient Drug Rehab Programs.

What is Needed to Succeed in Outpatient Drug Rehab?

There are clearly additional challenges to succeeding at an outpatient facility. However, if you or someone close to you is considering this option, remember that you can increase your chances of success by adhering to the following:

  • There is no factor more directly related to the success of a program than the patient’s motivation to change. No matter what option of recovery they decide upon, if they have no desire to succeed, it may ultimately result in a relapse.
  • Having an outside support group that can help during or after treatment is always a positive step. Because these facilities have limited availability, it is a good idea to have somewhere to turn.
  • A good facility will provide the patient with a number of different resources. However, it is ultimately up to the patient to make the most of these resources. The saying goes ‘you get out what you put in’.
  • Those not enrolled in an inpatient facility need to take responsibility for their own environment. This means avoiding things, places and people that may trigger a relapse. It may seem harsh, but spending time with the same friends you used to drink with is not a good idea.

There are many services available to those undergoing outpatient drug rehabilitation.  Examples of these include: behavioral counseling, mental health attention, job searching help, support groups, psychiatrist meetings, educational classes on drugs and how they affect a person, and regular visits with a counselor to discuss progress and revise the plan if it is not working.

Length of Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient drug rehab treatment programs vary in structured schedules and timelines. Everyone progresses through addiction treatment at their own pace, so there’s no set length of time for care.

Typically, programs run anywhere between one and three months, but they can run longer. Most treatment facilities require 90 days of participation in order to ensure successful results. The length of your outpatient treatment care can be extended depending on the progress the individual makes, following further care recommendations and ongoing evaluations from an addiction treatment professional.

Just like the variations in care, there are variations in the cost of an outpatient drug rehabilitation program. Of the different types of outpatient care available, one of the most consistent features is the low cost in comparison to other forms of treatment. Additionally, due to being referred as less intensive, outpatient care tends to attract those who are intimidated by the recovery process.

Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab

There is a common misconception that outpatient treatment programs are the opposite of residential inpatient programs in regards to treatment intensity. When it comes to the intensity of outpatient care there is a large degree of variation. Some outpatient drug rehab programs are designed with accessibility and flexibility in mind while others are a major commitment and would be difficult to complete while handling day-to-day responsibilities.

Some argue that there are distinct benefits to allowing a patient to continue to live (and in some cases, work and attend school) in a home environment – in this case, whatever it is they might call home. While inpatient treatment removes those struggling with substance abuse from an environment that may have contributed to the development of drug or alcohol addiction to begin with, outpatient drug treatment provides a way to more accurately test the efficacy of ongoing treatment while a patient remains amidst those very triggers. In a way, some point out, it more accurately assesses the coping mechanisms of the person in recovery when they return home at night, while continuing to provide them with intensive periods of support throughout the day.

In addition, outpatient treatment challenges a patient to seek out and utilize sources of support in their home environment, such as in finding local self-help groups or other recovery mentors in the neighborhood that can help guide someone down the path of recovery. Given that the transition from inpatient to outpatient treatment can be jarring, the addict in recovery will have the support of the community where he lives, works, and belongs, welcoming him back to wellness, and to a life without bondage to addiction.

There is a flip-side to these arguments, however. Those struggling with an addiction might face a much greater challenge of abstinence in an outpatient treatment center, especially in the early stages of recovery. Since their environment is not changing, they can easily access the addictive substance and are faced with temptation on a regular basis.

In addition, outpatient treatment does not always mandate follow up or aftercare treatment after the period of outpatient treatment ends, so it is important to find a facility that can direct you to another service that provides it, to help ensure continuity of care and continued recovery.

Of course the most important consideration in determining the need for inpatient or outpatient care is dependent upon the severity of your condition. If substance abuse is interfering with normal activity, is associated with or causing medical problems or is part of a dual diagnosis, inpatient programs frequently will prove a better option. Inpatient treatment is also preferred by many who need medical detox.