Outpatient Options for Addiction Treatment

Residential options are usually the preferred choice for addiction treatment. Substance abuse disorders are serious medical conditions and men and women who suffer from them need to stay completely focused on the healing process.

Outpatient treatment regimens are usually reserved for the aftercare period, when recovering addicts and alcoholics are striving to maintain their commitment to sobriety. There is no cure for addiction and the risk of relapse is greatest in the weeks and months immediately following the conclusion of rehab.

It would be a mistake, however, to limit outpatient services to this singular context. There are times when outpatient treatment is the better alternative right from the outset, even for addicts who have never received inpatient care and have been abusing drugs and alcohol for many years.

Are You a Candidate for Outpatient Treatment?

If you recently completed a 30-90 day stay in an addiction rehab facility, you have taken an important first step on the long road to recovery. Aftercare services are the next step and this is where outpatient programs can make a significant impact.

But this is not the only circumstance where outpatient treatment makes sense. Outpatient programs are sometimes used as substitutes for inpatient treatment, and this option might be ideal for you if:

  • You have personal, family and/or job responsibilities you cannot abandon for a month or more.
  • Your substance abuse problem is still relatively minor and you do not need medical detox.
  • You come from a stable and loving family and have a strong social support system at home.
  • Inpatient rehab has not worked for you in the past.
  • You are not convinced rehab is really necessary and you want to try it out for a while before making a deeper commitment.

Before you choose outpatient or inpatient treatment, you should meet with an addiction counselor who can help you evaluate the pros and the cons of each option.

What Does Outpatient Treatment Involve?

An outpatient program for addiction treatment must be adaptable enough to fit your schedule but comprehensive enough to meet your needs.

One-on-one, group, family and couples counseling may all be included in your treatment regimen, along with educational programs, life skills workshops and various alternative methods of healing. To supplement these activities your therapist may urge you to attend community meetings held by 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

If you are taking medications to help you withdraw from drugs or alcohol they will be administered at treatment facilities, unless your doctors permit you to take them at home. If you have health complications related to your substance abuse additional medical services will be provided as needed.

There is a strong voluntary element to outpatient treatment plans. You will not have to meditate, take yoga classes, participate in family therapy sessions or sit in on 12-step meetings if you prefer not to. These are just possibilities, not requirements.

What Are the Outpatient Options?

There are variations on the basic themes, but the three primary outpatient treatment options are:

  • Partial hospitalization (treatment inside a rehab facility for several consecutive hours each day).
  • Intensive outpatient (three or four times per week, several hours a day for counseling sessions plus educational activities).
  • Low-impact outpatient (attending meetings or counseling sessions one or two days each week).

Partial hospitalization mimics residential treatment. Medical detox is often included in addition to counseling and education. Days are long but, with partial hospitalization, you get to spend your “down time” at home, at work or at school.

Intensive outpatient services are also designed to match the inpatient experience. They are more flexible than partial hospitalization and are easier to customize around work schedules or home responsibilities. Intensive outpatient programs can either replace inpatient therapy entirely or reinforce it as part of an aftercare regimen.

Low-impact outpatient programs are offered exclusively as a form of aftercare. Regular attendance at 12-step meetings is frequently used to supplement these programs, since so little time is spent in therapist’s offices or in meeting rooms on treatment facility grounds.

Residential or Outpatient? The Decision is Yours

If you or a loved one suffer from a substance abuse disorder but are not currently in treatment, you need to find a good rehab program soon. Residential options offer the best possibility of success in most cases, but it would be a mistake to eliminate outpatient treatment from consideration without learning more.

Fortunately we can connect you with some of the most successful and highly-acclaimed treatment centers in the country, most of which offer outstanding outpatient options in addition to their inpatient programs. If you let them help you it is a decision you will never regret, regardless of the type of treatment program you ultimately choose.