How Does Outpatient Drug Rehab Work?
This mode of treatment has scheduled visits with treatment providers rather than providing immediate access to them and has the most autonomy, flexibility and convenience of all the treatment types
, as well as the lowest cost. In outpatient rehab, you live at home and come to treatment offices as previously scheduled. This means that while you are in outpatient treatment, you’ll have considerable independence and will be subject to the typical rigors and stresses of daily life.
How Long Does Outpatient Drug Rehab Last?
Depending on the type of services you need, outpatient rehabilitation can last one week, several months or even years. Intensive outpatient services are usually designed to last for at least one month. Outpatient services requiring multiple contacts per week often last for three to nine months. Continuing care often lasts for months or years, as recovery is a lifelong process.
What’s the Structure of an Outpatient Program? Is Drug Detox Included?
The structure of outpatient drug treatment differs considerably from inpatient treatment
. Whereas inpatient treatment offers care around the clock, outpatient treatment is available for a defined amount of hours and on specific days during the week. Outpatient treatment is usually directed to those with mild to moderate symptoms of addiction or to those whose severe symptoms have been stabilized by rigorous treatment. While it is possible to perform outpatient detoxification
when withdrawal symptoms are mild to moderate, outpatient treatment typically does not include detoxification.
Is Outpatient Drug Rehab Right for Me?
If you have decided to seek treatment, several factors can determine the appropriate level of care
for you. You are most likely to be a good candidate for outpatient treatment if:
- You have reasonable physical and emotional stability.
- There is no need for intensive care for addiction or mental health concerns.
- You live in a stable home environment (or in a sober living house).
- You are willing and able to dedicate your energy to recovery efforts.
- Being around your home environment will not trigger cravings.
It is recommended that you work with a clinical team or another medical professional to decide if outpatient treatment is the correct choice
as a level of treatment for your needs.
Components of Outpatient Treatment
The primary components of outpatient addiction treatment include individual, group and family therapy, access to medical care, mental health counseling, and medication-assisted treatment with medications like Suboxone and naltrexone, if necessary.
- Medical care: Appointments with medical professionals will assess a person’s physical health during the recovery process. If pressing issues come up, a person can be referred to their primary care physician (PCP) or a specialist for further care.
- Therapy: Therapy includes any combination of individual, group and family sessions to identify and resolve issues related to addiction.
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): MAT can help reduce cravings and maintain recovery at all stages of recovery. MAT is especially useful with alcohol, opioid and nicotine addictions.
- Dual diagnosis: For the best results, co-occurring mental health issues like depression and anxiety need to be addressed during treatment. These dual diagnosis treatments can offer medications and therapies specifically geared towards mental wellness.
Types of Outpatient Treatment
Outpatient treatments are, on the spectrum of available treatments, the most affordable and independent options. However, even within the broad term “outpatient drug treatment,” there is a spectrum of intensity.
- Day Programs: Offering the most intensive schedule of treatment, outpatient day programs, also called PHPs, engage individuals for five to seven days per week, usually for at least six hours per day. You’ll have access to individual, group and family therapists, and treatment for medical and co-occurring conditions. Though most individuals begin in the inpatient setting and step down to this level of treatment, some day programs can be a starting point for drug and alcohol rehab.
- Intensive Outpatient Programs: With more flexibility than a day program and similar treatment offerings with fewer hours, intensive outpatient programs offer another way to step down the intensity from the inpatient or partial hospitalization setting. Intensive outpatient programs are often ideal for those who require intensive treatment but whose work, school or family roles have required them to pursue outpatient rehabilitation. Typically, intensive outpatient programs offer treatment for three to four days per week, during the day or evening hours.
- Continuing Care: Also known as aftercare, continuing care consists of counseling groups and mutual support groups whose primary goal is to provide connectedness, accountability and ongoing support for those who have transitioned from more intensive outpatient treatment. Continuing care groups are facilitated by licensed therapists and are often offered at a once per week schedule.
- Outpatient Treatment for Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders: Also referred to as a dual diagnosis, mental health conditions that coexist with a substance use disorder present unique challenges to sobriety. Treating co-occurring disorders has a significant effect on a person’s chances of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. A dual diagnosis outpatient program may require significantly more treatment than one addressing addiction only. However, those with stable co-occurring conditions are candidates for outpatient alcohol treatment and drug rehabilitation. Effective outpatient treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions can occur if:
- The mental health condition and substance use disorder have mild to moderate symptoms.
- Psychiatrists are available by appointment.
- The outpatient treatment program is intensive enough to meet the individual’s needs.
Benefits of Outpatient Treatment
When considering the appropriate level of intervention
for drug and alcohol treatment, the advantages of one treatment approach must be considered along with a patient’s needs, desires, resources and the likelihood of success. Among the benefits of outpatient treatment are:
- Increased levels of autonomy, compared to inpatient rehab
- Higher levels of flexibility in scheduling and treatment program design
- Ability to live at home and continue a committed involvement to an intensive program
- Freedom to maintain a presence at work, school or with family
- Lower cost than inpatient rehabilitation
- Effectiveness at treating mild to moderate substance use disorders
- Easier transition back to home environment after treatment
How Much Does Outpatient Drug Rehab Cost?
Since acute medical care is usually not needed in the outpatient setting, the cost of outpatient rehabilitation is significantly lower than inpatient hospitalization or residential treatment per day, but the total length of outpatient care is generally much longer than inpatient. The specific cost of outpatient rehabilitation depends on the level of service you need. As a rule, the more programming and hours offered in treatment activities, the more expensive a treatment program will be.
Fortunately, the number of insurance plans
covering the cost of substance use disorder treatment has risen in the last ten years, and so has the amount of treatment those plans are willing to cover.
People who opt to pay for an outpatient treatment independently can usually expect
to pay somewhere between $1,000 to $10,000 for the program, depending on the level of treatment and services. Individual therapy sessions can range on average from $50 to $150.