Substance abuse is a complicated issue, potentially impacting all areas of one’s life, including work, health and interpersonal relationships. Hopefully, at some point, an individual battling with drug addiction or alcoholism will reach out for help by joining an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Thankfully, there are numerous settings and levels of addiction treatment available to provide recovery assistance.1 After an assessment from a doctor or other qualified addiction medicine professional, outpatient treatment programs for substance abuse may be recommended. Usually, these programs are reserved for those whose alcohol and drug addictions are less severe, who don’t have other mental health disorders and who have a supportive home environment.1
Here, we’ll provide you with an overview of outpatient treatment programs for substance abuse, their benefits, the types of outpatient treatment and services available, the differences between outpatient and inpatient addiction treatment programs and how to prepare for entering outpatient rehab treatment.
What Is an Outpatient Rehab Center?
You might be wondering, ‘what is outpatient rehabilitation?’ There are a number of addiction treatment options for those struggling with substance abuse who think they may need rehab. One option is an outpatient treatment center. These facilities are an excellent option for those who know they need help for drug abuse or alcohol addiction but who are unable to stop working or attending school to get it.
Programs for outpatient drug and alcohol treatment do vary, but they generally provide assistance a few times a week for a few hours.1 Outpatient addiction treatment centers provide a level of flexibility that many individuals require, but the effectiveness of outpatient drug rehabilitation can be limited, especially for those who need medical as well as psychological recovery services—the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that some low-intensity outpatient drug treatment programs don’t offer much more than drug education.2
What Are the Benefits of Outpatient Addiction Treatment Programs?
Depending on the individual’s needs, outpatient treatment can be a good means of obtaining substance abuse recovery help. Outpatient substance abuse treatment is appropriate for those whose condition is sufficiently stable, whose symptoms are mild and who are willing to participate in the treatment plan.1
With that in mind, there are many potential benefits to seeking drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs on an outpatient basis. For one, outpatient rehab treatment can be delivered through various settings:3,4
- In a hospital clinic.
- In a community mental health clinic.
- At a local health department.
- At a therapist’s office.
- By telephone.
Additionally, the daily schedule can be adjusted in many drug or alcohol outpatient programs to allow sufficient time for school and/or work commitments.3
It should be emphasized that it is of the utmost importance to first receive a thorough evaluation and detailed examination of your specific drug and alcohol abuse issues from someone who is qualified to make the recommendation for outpatient treatment.
What Is Intensive Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment?
Intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment may more closely match the services and effectiveness of inpatient programs. Those with more severe addictions may fare better in an IOP than in a lower-intensity program. IOPs typically include more, and longer, therapeutic visits per week. These programs tend to cost more than regular outpatient substance abuse programs, though this cost varies by program.5,6 Intensive outpatient programs may incorporate treatment for co-occurring disorders into their treatment model and can offer specialized rehabilitation treatment, depending on the program.
What Is Partial Hospitalization or Day Treatment?
Slightly higher on the continuum scale of treatment levels in terms of intensity is partial hospitalization (PHP).1 While it might not sound like it, this is still considered an outpatient level of alcohol and drug treatment, albeit a “very intensive outpatient” level of therapy. Also called “day treatment”, partial hospitalization-level treatment is appropriate for those requiring more intensive blocks of therapy based on the seriousness of their addiction history and is an alternative to inpatient treatment.7
Those who meet the criteria for partial hospitalization are seen as able to make progress on their treatment goals when they return to home, school or work. However, they still require more frequent or concentrated periods of access to medical care and monitoring by treatment professionals or other addiction treatment staff in order to maintain recovery momentum.4
Partial hospitalization is sometimes reserved for those who have been through an inpatient or residential treatment program, but who need to continue a relatively intensive course of alcoholism or drug abuse treatment to avoid relapse.
It may also be appropriate for those who need medication or other medical services or treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders.4 Day treatment, expectedly, requires more of a time commitment than other outpatient treatment levels. It varies dependent on individual situations but can exceed 20 hours per week.7 What it has in common with the other, less intensive levels of outpatient treatment is the fact that patients continue to live at home for the duration of drug and alcohol treatment.7
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What Services Do Outpatient Drug Addiction Treatment Programs Offer?
Outpatient treatment for drug and alcohol addiction can incorporate several types of support services to help individuals with substance abuse problems. These can include:3
- Individual therapy, family therapy and/or group counseling.
- Informational sessions or classes.
- Drug abuse and alcoholism education.
- Medical care.
- Recovery support groups or 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Occupational/recreational therapy.
Outpatient therapy for drug and alcohol addiction is a great way to address issues contributing to the substance abuse problem and behavioral counseling will likely be part of your outpatient treatment plan. A few common forms of behavioral counseling are:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy, where individuals learn to recognize and steer clear of situations that may lead them to drug or alcohol abuse.
- Contingency management, where individuals learn to abstain from drugs or alcohol through incentives and rewards.
- Motivational interviewing, where individuals are assessed on their willingness to make positive change and begin treatment.
What Is the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment Programs?
Determining the need for inpatient or outpatient care is dependent upon the severity of your condition. Your evaluation will determine which type of treatment will best serve your needs. Understanding how each one works can be useful as you plan and prepare.
- Removes the individual from an environment that may have contributed to the development of drug or alcohol addiction.
- Provides 24/7 care and support, including necessary medical staff for co-occurring medical or mental health conditions and/or severe addiction or withdrawal symptoms.
- Mandates follow-up or aftercare treatment after the period of treatment ends, ensuring continuity of care and continued recovery.
- Allows individuals to continue to live (and in some cases, work and attend school) in a home environment.
- Provides the recovering person with a way to more accurately test the efficacy of ongoing treatment and practice newly developed skills while remaining amidst those triggers.
- Challenges a patient to seek out and utilize sources of support in their home environment, such as finding local self-help groups or other recovery mentors in the neighborhood that can help guide someone down the path of recovery.3
Those struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction might face a much greater challenge of abstinence in an outpatient treatment center, especially in the early stages of addiction recovery. Since their environment is not changing, they can easily access the addictive substance and are faced with temptation on a regular basis.
If substance abuse is interfering with your life, your relationships, your job or your medical or mental health, inpatient drug and alcohol addiction programs frequently will prove a better option. You may be interested in longer-term treatment such as 30-day, 60-day and 90-day programs, or in pursuing a shorter 3-, 5- or 7-day detox program.
Given that the transition from inpatient to outpatient treatment can be distressing, the individual in recovery will need the support of the community where he lives, works and belongs to welcome him back to wellness and to a life without addiction.
How Can I Find Outpatient Drug Treatment Near Me?
If you or a loved one is seeking outpatient drug treatment and is wondering, ‘is there outpatient substance abuse treatment near me?’, there are resources available online to help you find alcohol and drug rehab centers near your location. SAMHSA’s Treatment Services Locator can help you locate nearby treatment centers based on your home address. It is, however, important to choose the right drug and alcohol treatment program for your specific requirements. You should consider all of your personal needs when assessing what the right outpatient treatment center to suit your preferences is. American Addiction Centers (AAC) can help you find the drug and alcohol rehab help you need. Call for free at to discuss your treatment options.
What to Prepare Before Seeking Help
Before seeking out an outpatient treatment program for yourself or a loved one, you will want to ensure you have the necessary information. Try to find out:
- How long the substance use has been going on.
- How much of the substance is being consistently used.
- If any other drugs are being abused at the same time.
- If there are known medical issues/diseases.
- If other mental health disorders are present.
You should also have some financial information at hand, especially your insurance information. When you call an alcohol, drug abuse or narcotics hotline number or a specific treatment center, whether outpatient or inpatient, you may be asked to provide specific details about your coverage, so have your or your loved one’s insurance card handy. Also remember that you can ask about payment options like loans, financing and scholarships or options for people who don’t have insurance. Whether you are seeking treatment for a problem with alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, prescription drugs or any other addiction, recovery from chemical dependency is possible.
To find out more about your options for outpatient drug or alcohol addiction rehabilitation treatment, what your insurance policy covers or how to pay for rehab, contact an admissions navigator for free at . You can also use the “Verify Your Insurance” portal or fill out the form below.
Health Insurance Providers That May Cover Outpatient Treatment
Learn about treatment with these insurance providers: