How Does Outpatient Treatment Work?

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Addiction recovery can be designed to fit the lifestyle of the person who needs substance abuse treatment. Programs do not have to look the same to offer clients a true path to sobriety, and that is a good thing.

Outpatient treatment programs are viable options that offer flexibility to people who are making the transition to sobriety. These programs focus on healing the psychological and social effects and behaviors of addiction, and they give people in recovery more control over their schedules as they work toward their sobriety goals.

This flexibility means outpatient programs are less structured than partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs), but they are no less effective than inpatient programs and vary in intensity and duration.

One key difference between outpatient and inpatient treatment programs is that outpatient does not require clients to live on-site in a 24-hour supervised rehab facility for a month or more, unlike inpatient clients do. The freedom to come and go as needed allows them to continue to go to work, attend school, and take care of family and other responsibilities at home.

These programs also have lower costs compared with inpatient programs, because there are no room and board fees to pay, which make them appealing options for people who may not be able to cover some or all of the rehab costs. People who want to keep treatment a private matter also may be interested in this kind of program.

However, before a decision is made about which rehab is best, individual needs must be examined and taken into consideration to find the right fit.

Who Benefits from Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment typically appeals to people who are:

  • In the early stages of addiction or have a mild substance use disorder
  • Want to continue their aftercare upon leaving residential or inpatient treatment
  • Benefiting from having access to a supportive network of family and friends
  • Unable to cover the costs of inpatient treatment
  • Highly motivated and committed to their recovery goals and keeping a schedule

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, adolescent drug abuse treatment is offered in outpatient settings, which can be highly effective when delivered by well-trained clinicians.

What Services Do Outpatient Clients Receive?

Outpatient programs vary in duration and intensity, and clients still must do the work to overcome their addiction. Time requirements in these programs can last a minimum of six to nine hours to more than 20 hours of treatment a week.

Those who participate in low-to-moderate intensity programs may attend treatment sessions once or twice a week. Intensive outpatient services typically require attendance at sessions more than twice a week for at least three hours or more a day, according to NIDA.

Outpatient rehab gives clients in early-stage addiction the tools and strategies they need to overcome addiction and substance use disorders. It offers a multidisciplinary approach to treatment and can include any of the following:

  • Substance abuse education
  • Cravings and triggers management
  • Mental health treatment
  • Therapy (individual and group)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • 12-step programs
  • Transitional living facility referrals (including sober living homes)
  • Relapse prevention training

What Outpatient Treatment Does Not Offer

Clients who enter an outpatient program do have more flexibility and independence, but there are limitations as well. Outpatient care is not around-the-clock, so people who live outside a rehab center are solely responsible for keeping their environment safe, stable, and drug- and alcohol-free at all time. They must remain aware of the people and places that serve as temptations and triggers that can lead to relapse, and they must make a concentrated effort to practice habits that support their sobriety.

What About Intensive Outpatient Programs?

These structured programs, which require more of a time commitment, are ideal for people who have recently finished an addiction treatment program or are still facing some addiction struggles. Intensive outpatient participants include some of the same treatments as what inpatient clients receive either during the day or in the evening, including therapy.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) also are ideal for people who recently relapsed and need time to recover and clients who were in partial hospitalization programs who need support as they transition to living in sobriety full time. Clients with co-occurring disorders linked to substance use may also benefit from IOP services. How long IOP treatment lasts depends much on the client.

Interested in Outpatient Treatment? Call Us Now

Ocean Breeze Recovery meets you at whatever stage of recovery you’re in to help you get the best experience possible. Call us at 844-554-9279 or connect with us online now so we can help you find the right treatment program for you or someone you know. Our facility offers a wide range of services that cater to our clients’ needs. We are ready to walk you through the process of addiction treatment. Since we understand that recovery needs vary according to the person’s needs, we can help you find the right treatment for you and your schedule.



Elysia Richardson
Digital Content Editor

Elysia L. Richardson is a content writer and editor who covers addiction and substance abuse for Delphi Behavioral Health Group. Previously a writer and editor for various digital and print publications, she enjoys researching news in the recovery field and finding engaging ways to share information that helps improve people’s lives.

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