When you picture “rehab,” you might imagine hospital-like stays, detoxing, and inpatient treatment that lasts a month or more. While those are definite options, there are lots of other ways to seek drug treatment, too. One of those is outpatient rehab. That’s a type of program where you attend treatment for a certain amount of time during the day and then go about your life as normal, including spending the night at home. The time commitment required ranges greatly between different outpatient rehab programs, but they’re all less than an inpatient option.
Outpatient rehab is not right for everyone — more severe cases of addiction will most likely require an inpatient stay. But for some people, an intensive outpatient program fits their needs. Here, we’ll take you through what these programs often look like and who might be good candidates for them.
The Basics of Outpatient Rehab
As we just explained, outpatient rehab means you’ll receive treatment for only part of the day. This can look like a few hours per week of group counseling, or it can be an intensive outpatient program where you spend up to 30 hours per week on a variety of therapies.
Don’t think that inpatient care is of a higher quality than outpatient care. In an intensive outpatient program, you’ll participate in many of the same activities as you would if you were spending the night. You can have access to equally qualified health professionals no matter what kind of rehab you opt for.
Outpatient rehab is not an inferior choice. It’s just a different one. Depending on your specific circumstances, outpatient options can be effective ways to address your substance use disorder, and there are a wide variety of choices under that umbrella. Read on to learn more about the specifics of outpatient rehab options and whether they might be a good fit for you.
Who benefits from outpatient rehab?
This type of program can be particularly beneficial for several groups. Some of the main beneficiaries of outpatient rehab are those who need to keep their job during their treatment. Also keep in mind that there’s not a one-time choice between inpatient and outpatient. Many people can benefit from going through an inpatient program first, and then, after they’ve left residential treatment, participating in some kind of outpatient program.
Some people need to get away from toxic home environments and are drawn to inpatient programs for that reason. Other people, though, have a strong support system at home. If you fall into the latter category, outpatient rehab might be a good fit for you. Many programs, both inpatient and outpatient, include some form of family therapy, but an outpatient program lets you go home to your family every day.
If you’re eager and ready to start putting the principles you’re learning in treatment into practice, then outpatient rehab is a good fit. You’re going home into the real world every day, so you’ve got ample opportunity to start changing your everyday habits. With an inpatient treatment plan, you’re completely taken out of those real-life situations. Some people need that clean break while others don’t.
Another main factor for many people considering drug treatment is cost. How much the program will run you might be prohibitive for some people. The good news is that an outpatient program is usually less expensive than an inpatient program, since you spend less time at the facility. Of course, you should never base your important medical decisions on cost alone — a medical professional can recommend a treatment that will serve you well.
Types of Outpatient Rehab
Now that we’ve looked at the benefits of outpatient rehab as opposed to its inpatient counterparts, let’s dive deeper into the specifics of the different types of outpatient programs. No treatment plan is one-size-fits-all, and making sure you’re in a program that is suited to your unique situation is imperative, so it’s a good idea to look through all your different outpatient options.
Going along with that, it’s also possible to mix and match different programs to build a treatment plan that fulfills all of your needs. Not every outpatient rehab offers care for every part of the rehabilitation process, so you might need treatment from different facilities for different stages of your recovery. The important thing is that you’re getting care that works for you. Read on for some of your different outpatient rehab options.
This type of outpatient rehab is the most involved. In a day treatment program, you’ll usually meet five to seven days out of the week for a full or half day. That’s a big commitment, and the treatment is highly structured compared to some of the other options we’ll take you through. How long you’ll participate in a day program will vary depending on your specific needs, but it will last a few weeks at the very least. Other people might take longer to feel confident moving on to the next stage of their recovery, and that’s completely valid. Your health professionals will work with you to find the right solution for you.
The actual activities you’ll partake in are quite similar to those of an inpatient program or an intensive outpatient one: Group and individual counseling, for the most part. We’ll explain what all goes down in an intensive outpatient rehab program next, but the main difference between the two is flexibility. A day program’s timing is quite rigid, whereas an intensive outpatient program is going to have a lot more options for when you can find treatment.
Intensive Outpatient Program
As the name suggests, this type of program is going to be more involved than the others listed here. An intensive outpatient program is also going to cover the most stages in the rehab process out of all the outpatient rehab options. In an intensive outpatient program, the health professionals you’re working with will likely guide you through three stages: Treatment engagement, early recovery, and maintenance.
Stages of an Intensive Outpatient Program
That first stage involves encouraging you to buy into the treatment process. This stage is also for building a relationship between you and your therapist. In the second phase, you’ll participate in lots of counseling and activities. Specifics there will depend on the offerings of your intensive outpatient program and what they specialize in. Some of these include group counseling and individual therapy, but you will also likely have access to case management services and help with any other mental disorders that might be co-occurring with your substance use disorder. You should also learn how to handle cravings and gain all the tools you need for after you leave the intensive outpatient program.
An intensive outpatient program might also offer medication-assisted detox. The availability of these medications varies widely between programs, so definitely inquire before committing if you’re interested in that type of treatment. It often depends on the size and staffing of the facility. The intensive outpatient program might also have other standalone detox options for those who need more monitoring.
The last stage, maintenance, is one that might not happen in the actual intensive outpatient program, but it still shouldn’t be overlooked. In the maintenance stage, you’ll be encouraged to keep up the skills you learned in the second phase throughout your life, helping you remain sober.
The whole intensive outpatient program, with all three stages, will typically last for 90 days. This does vary a bit from program to program, but the 90-day benchmark is fairly standard. You’ll spend somewhere from 6 to 30 hours each week on treatment.
Drawbacks of an Intensive Outpatient Program
Keep in mind that because an intensive outpatient program is a lot more involved than your other outpatient options, it’s going to cost more, too. You’ll likely have access to more time with therapists and more extensive services than you would get at one of the less intense outpatient options, so it might be worth the cost for you. And of course, you shouldn’t base any of your medical decisions solely on cost, or solely on the advice of one blog post. Definitely reach out to your doctor to ask about your options if you think an intensive outpatient program would be right for you but the cost would be prohibitive.
For more severe cases, an intensive outpatient program is a good choice. There’s going to be more structure in this kind of treatment to help you get healthy. Of course, there are also drawbacks. We mentioned the cost, but it will also require a heftier time commitment in most circumstances. An intensive outpatient program is not right for everyone, but it definitely has its benefits.
Professionals will sometimes call this type of outpatient rehab “regular outpatient.” With this type of treatment, you’ll see a therapist who specializes in substance abuse once or twice a week in a group setting or in an individual session. The therapist can assess their clients and teach them about drug addiction. Counseling programs often also offer services like case management and setting up doctor visits. If you need help getting a job, counseling programs can sometimes help with that, too.
Who is counseling a good fit for?
Counseling is a great choice to supplement your care after you’ve completed an inpatient or intensive outpatient program. It can also be effective for all stages of rehab if your addiction is mild. This option will cost a lot less than an intensive outpatient program, and it’s more often covered by insurance. This sort of program is not appropriate for intense addictions, though, which would benefit from a more involved treatment plan.
A support group might not be the first thing you think of when you think of outpatient rehab, but it absolutely falls under the outpatient care umbrella. Much like counseling, support groups can provide much-needed services for those who have gone through the first few phases of rehab and are entering the maintenance or aftercare stage. Support groups can help build a community around you. They offer accountability and foster long-lasting relationships with other people in similar situations. In the long term, those who participate in support groups see higher rates of abstinence.
Of course, support groups are not going to fulfill all of your needs if you have a moderate or severe addiction. You won’t have access to certified health professionals with a support group, so if that’s something you need, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Likewise, not every group is right for every person. The specific culture can vary a lot from group to group, and not everyone will feel at home with every group.
Even with all of those caveats, support groups can be an integral part of the recovery process for some people. They might be a good place to start if your addiction is mild. Or, they might be a great way to maintain a supportive community around you after you’ve gone through more intensive types of treatment.
You don’t have to go it alone.
If you were under the impression that the only way to get help for a substance use disorder was to check yourself into a 60-day inpatient stay, we hope you’ve thrown that misconception out the window by now. There are lots of outpatient rehab options to help you get back on track. Now that you’ve gone through some of the different varieties out there, we hope you’re at a good jumping off point for more research into which program is right for you.
We’ve looked at less intense options, like regular outpatient counseling and support groups, as well as more involved options, like an intensive outpatient program. Depending on your level of addiction, how much support you have at home, and what kind of care you can afford, any of these options might be the right fit for you. If you’re not sure where to start, talking to your general practitioner is a great idea. They can offer any resources they have and point you in the right direction.
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help — there are plenty of people rooting for you.