Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment

Outpatient substance abuse treatment is a type of treatment program that allows patients to attend sessions at a facility and then leave the facility afterwards in order to go back home. Outpatient substance abuse treatment can usually be worked out to fit around a patient’s schedule, and many individuals choose this treatment type because it is generally less expensive and more flexible. Some substance abuse patients benefit from outpatient treatment better than others.

If you are considering attending treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD), outpatient substance abuse treatment could be highly beneficial to you depending on your needs and your situation.

What is Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment?

Outpatient substance abuse treatment allows patients to attend treatment for SUDs while also being able to manage their lives as well. Outpatient substance abuse treatment consists of the patient attending treatment at a facility (usually daily, at least at first) and then being able to still work, have a home life, and manage other aspects of their lives while attending treatment as well. Many individuals will want to attend outpatient treatment as opposed to inpatient because it gives them more freedom and the ability to still manage their lives.

outpatient rehab benefits

In outpatient rehab you can have the freedom of living at home while in treatment.

Are All Outpatient Treatment Programs the Same?

No. According to the NIDA, “Outpatient treatment varies in the types of intensity of services offered.” Some facilities are extremely minimal in the services they offer while others have a large variety of services from medication and therapy to drug education and vocational counseling as well as holistic drug addiction treatments (yoga, exercise, nutritional classes, etc.). It all depends on the specific facility you choose.

This is why, when you are looking to attend substance abuse treatment, you should find out everything you can about the facility itself and what is offered. Compare what is offered to the needs you have, and make sure that they can all be met by the specific facility. Websites like FreeRehabCenter.com and SAMHSA‘s treatment locator can give you access to information about facilities near you as well as a phone number, website, and address for the center so that you can ask them yourself about what they provide.

Most outpatient treatment programs offer at least the following:

  • Medication for the treatment of substance abuse and addiction (if applicable)
  • Medically-assisted detox
  • Behavioral therapy
    • Group therapy is common in outpatient centers, but many facilities offer individual therapy treatments as well.
  • A medically-trained staff of health care professionals
  • Individualized treatment plans

In addition to these treatments, some outpatient programs also offer:

  • Holistic treatments
  • Vocational counseling
  • Drug tests and screenings
  • Medical treatment for drug-induced health problems
  • Behavioral therapy for co-occurring mental disorders
  • Mutual-help group therapy

Other means of support are sometimes offered at certain facilities, but it is important to find out all you can about a specific facility or program before you begin attending treatment there. Outpatient treatment can be very effective for the right individual, and the right program goes a long way toward helping you in your recovery.

Who Should Attend Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment?

In many cases, inpatient treatment is necessary. Certain patients need the controlled environment and the chance to get away from their stressors and life issues for a while in order to focus on their recoveries. However, sometimes inpatient treatment is not necessary and attending it in this case can be less effective and even harmful. Some patients do better in outpatient substance abuse treatment than in inpatient, but how do you know if you should attend outpatient treatment?

According to the NCBI study on inpatient vs outpatient treatment, it was discovered that there are certain criteria and needs of the patient that inform their chances of a successful treatment in either an inpatient or outpatient facility. As stated in the study, “Patients with high psychiatric severity and/or a poor social support system are predicted to have a better outcome in inpatient treatment, while patients with low psychiatric severity and/or a good social support system may do well as outpatients without incurring the higher costs of inpatient treatment.”

  • Patients who are severely suffering from co-occurring mental disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc. should not attend outpatient treatment.
  • Patients who are suffering from physical conditions that call for constant medical supervision should not attend outpatient treatment.
  • Patients who have little or no support at home from friends or family members should not attend outpatient treatment.

Instead, patients who are fairly able to care for themselves outside of treatment and/or who have a strong support system at home are good candidates for outpatient treatment. If you feel that these describe you, then attending outpatient treatment may be more beneficial for you as well when, as stated by the NIDA, “such treatment costs less than residential or inpatient treatment and often is more suitable for people with jobs.”

Tips for Effectively Attending Outpatient Treatment

  • Choose an outpatient treatment center that is close to you and not a long drive. If the distance is too far, you may wind up not going as much as you should.
  • Take your treatment just as seriously as you do your job, family obligations, etc. If you are supposed to be at the facility at a certain time, be there. Because there is more freedom involved in outpatient treatment, more of the success of the program is on you.
  • If you live alone, ask a friend or family member to stay with you for a couple weeks. This way, you will not be alone when you come home after treatment and you will have someone to talk and reach out to if necessary.
  • Be honest with your doctors and nurses about your needs so that they can provide the best treatment possible for you. Especially if your needs begin to change since the beginning of your treatment, make sure to speak up.

Outpatient treatment is usually recommended for individuals who have “less severe addictions, few additional mental health problems, and a supportive living environment” (NIDA). In outpatient substance abuse treatment, patients are able to attend treatment in a way that still allows them to live their lives while they recover.