Outpatient drug rehab is an important part of an addiction treatment program. Substance addiction can alter a person's lifestyle, and can negatively affect their job, relationships and hobbies. It can have a devastating impact on the addict and their family.

Taking advantage of outpatient rehab can help a person overcome the substance abuse lifestyle, while gaining access to group counseling, individual therapy and classes. People in recovery can learn skills to help manage stress and live a healthier lifestyle to ensure recovery is a long-lasting and enjoyable endeavor.

What is Outpatient Drug Rehab?

Addiction treatments come in a variety of packages and programs, which can be tailored to suit each person's needs. Inpatient and outpatient drug rehab programs are both viable options for recovery. They may work independently or as two different phases of an addiction treatment program.

Outpatient drug rehab is a treatment option that allows the recovering addict to live at home or on their own while they complete addiction treatment. They may visit the outpatient facility one or more days a week to participate in classes, access medical treatment, undergo therapy, or participate in group sessions such as a 12-step program.

Outpatient rehab is an incredibly helpful way to build self-reliance, self-confidence and gain independence on the path to long-term rehabilitation. Within addiction treatment, there are two distinct stages of recovery.

Physical Detox

The first step to overcoming addiction is physical detoxification. This stage is the beginning of recovery when the patient abstains from using the substance of abuse. As brain chemistry and other physical changes have taken place during the cycle of addiction, the detox phase will allow the body to remove the drug from all systems while attempting to re-balance or reset brain chemistry to a healthier state.

Inpatient rehab, where the patient stays in a clinic, hospital or facility for detoxification, is often recommended for this stage of treatment, because withdrawal can be uncomfortable and sometimes risky. Many addicts have a difficult time getting through the detox and might require medical intervention.

However, outpatient treatment during the physical detox is possible for lighter or milder addictions, or for someone who has someone monitoring them at home in case problems arise. In this setting, a person detoxes at home but visits a clinic or hospital on a regular basis to receive medically assisted treatment. They may be given a replacement drug to taper down their dependence on the substance, or they may be given medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms that can arise during detox.

Outpatient Drug Rehab: Therapy and Recovery

Once the physical detox is complete, recovery can continue with therapy. Many facilities offer outpatient programs, which allow the recovering addict to move forward with treatment while maintaining work or school. These programs may be a necessity for some patients for financial reasons or family commitments.

Outpatient rehab for addiction therapy is also an important stage of recovery for those who first spend time at an inpatient facility. Well after the physical addiction is under control, drug cravings or triggers will remain, and both can lead to relapse. Once the patient completes physical withdrawal at a hospital or clinic, they will have a greater chance for long-lasting success if they can transition to an independent program while they fully recover.

Outpatient rehab treatment programs are designed to help the patient:

  • Deal with emotions in a healthier way
  • Live a sober life
  • Learn to deal with stress
  • Manage the variety of cues that can trigger relapse

During this stage of addiction treatment, various types of therapies may be offered and will depend on individual needs. Depending on the program, an outpatient facility may offer:

  • Individual or group therapy
  • Classes in addiction and its effect on the body
  • Job training skills
  • Stress or life management skills
  • Specialized therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Internal Family Systems Therapy
  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Healthy lifestyle programs (exercise or yoga)

Different Types of Outpatient Programs

There are different types of outpatient programs that can help through all phases of treatment. These may include traditional therapy, complementary classes like yoga or meditation, or even classes in job training. Here are some types of outpatient programs:

  • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) are used when the patient lives at home, but visits the hospital on a regular basis to receive Medically Assisted Intervention, or MAT. This treatment is proven successful to help addicts safely wean off a substance that has been abused. Partial hospitalization is a less expensive treatment option and can be done while the patient continues to work or fulfill other personal commitments.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) are offered as a structured way for patients to reach goals during a treatment plan for their recovery. They may attend group therapy sessions, individual counseling sessions, 12-Step programs or classes. As the name implies, this type of drug rehab is intensive as the addict may attend sessions up to seven days per week, possibly for three or more hours each day. As goals are met, the time may be reduced to help the addict readjust to life outside of recovery.
  • Traditional Outpatient Programs are like the Intensive Outpatient Programs, but with less time invested. The addict will still have access to therapies, group counseling sessions or classes but with less frequency. This leaves more time for the patient to focus on their personal life as they work, take classes or assist their family.
  • Sober Living Homes are a type of outpatient rehab facility. Often set up as room rentals in a home or apartment, a recovering addict can live there while undergoing treatment onsite or nearby. Some perks of this type of facility include a more affordable cost than a clinic or hospital, there may be in-house therapy available, and the freedom to come and go as the patient desires with time to find work or go to school.

Beneficial Therapies Used in Outpatient Drug Rehab Programs

Within each of the above programs, there are a variety of sub-programs or therapies that may be used. The following are some common programs used in outpatient drug rehab:

  • Individual counseling is an initial and important step on the path to recovery. It is through individual counseling with a therapist that a patient can uncover why the addiction took over their lives, or why they have a difficult time staying sober. It can be a safe space for the patient to reflect and evaluate personal feelings and issues, and learn how to deal with them.
  • 12-Step programs may be offered in some outpatient drug rehab programs. Various 12-Step programs exist and are specialized according to a person's addiction. Some examples include Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous. These group settings help people communicate with others who are experiencing similar addiction problems. The patient may gain insight into how to handle recovery, learn how to communicate with family or friends about their addiction or even share coping skills. These groups have a long history of anecdotal success.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a traditional therapy that uses a specialized program to get to the core of behavior, and enjoys a strong success rate that is backed by various research and studies. In this case, the patient meets with a therapist individually and may continue sessions as an individual or in a group. This therapy was designed to help the patient discover thought patterns and distorted beliefs that may contribute to negative behavior such as substance abuse. By discovering these patterns, they can learn to change them.
  • Motivational Interviewing is a type of therapy that is often used for those who need help finding strength and motivation to continue recovery. It involves individual therapy in which the patient receives help to uncover possible blockages to recovery. In this case, the therapist may use techniques like empathy and active listening skills to help the patient find healthy reasons for recovery.
  • Family Therapy for Drug Rehab and Addiction Treatment is a type of group therapy in which the patient attends with their family. The family interactions, communication and dynamics may be explored to uncover unhealthy patterns. Family members may learn and practice new skills to help the patient through recovery.

Effectiveness of Outpatient Rehab for Addiction Treatment

The effectiveness of outpatient rehab for addiction treatment is dependent on how much effort and time is put into recovery. Many types of programs and therapies are available and can only help when they are used.

Outpatient rehab for addiction treatment is an important step for those coming out of an inpatient facility. They can help the patient transition into recovery while living on their own, as they gain more accountability and responsibility in their treatment. This is important for long-lasting success.

At the same time, outpatient rehab is important for people who do not have the time or resources to utilize an inpatient facility. This model serves an important role in a recovering addict’s life. It can help them build a network of support, while practicing new skills in their personal environment.

For those who need proof, studies from the American Psychiatric Association show that up to 70% of participants who participate in Intensive Outpatient Therapy were able to continue abstinence. In addition, the results of IOP compared to inpatient treatment were similar.

If one does not require 24-hour care, like that which is necessary during intensive withdrawal from certain drugs, outpatient is not only a viable treatment option, but effective as well. The flexibility allows the patient to work, study, and practice new skills. The cost is less than a live-in facility and often covered by insurance, and success rates are high for those that participate in their own recovery.