Outpatient Rehab

Dr Matthew N. Parker
Calendar icon Last Updated: 02/6/2024

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Outpatient rehab is the ideal addiction treatment option for those who do not need 24/7 medical supervision during detox, and who live in healthy home environments that support and help them maintain abstinence from drugs and alcohol. This treatment program is designed to help you overcome psychological addiction while teaching you the skills needed to cope with triggers and avoid relapse.

What is Outpatient Rehab?

The goal of outpatient rehab is to help you or your loved one learn coping strategies and invaluable relapse management and prevention skills. Outpatient rehab uses mental health counseling, education, and group support to address problems affecting your emotional, social, and mental well-being. Outpatient care is available in many different settings such as hospitals, community behavioral health centers, and addiction treatment centers.

Outpatient treatment is an alternative to inpatient and residential treatment and is best for those who have important work, business, and family commitments that require them to maintain daily lives outside of rehab. Outpatient programs generally last longer than most inpatient programs since patients are not offered 24-hour support and take place over several weeks. Most outpatient services offer at least nine hours of service per week, though longer, more intensive outpatient services are often available, such as partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs).

What are the Benefits of Outpatient Rehab?

Anyone who needs help recovering from substance abuse and who does not require intensive 24-hour care can benefit from the services available at outpatient rehab. Many of the same services at outpatient rehab are also offered in residential and inpatient settings.

Benefits of outpatient rehab:

  • Maintain your presence at work or school without putting these responsibilities on hold.
  • Continue managing and caring for children, family, and your household.
  • Avoid isolation by involving family and friends in your treatment and recovery.
  • Treatment can be private and discreet — allowing you to maintain your privacy.
  • Spend less on treatment costs with outpatient rehab versus inpatient rehab.
  • Receive long-term treatment that helps you stay on track with sobriety and recovery.
  • Build community with peers also recovering from substance abuse.
  • Increase your level of care as needed to prolong and enhance your recovery.
  • Improve self-discipline by attending scheduled treatments and taking scheduled medications at the appropriate times

Treatment sessions at outpatient rehab often last a minimum of three hours per session on three days per week or more frequently as needed — especially if you are also overcoming a co-occurring mental health disorder like depression. Outpatient rehab allows you to recover from addiction and substance use disorders on a schedule that can be customized to fit the unique lifestyle needs of you or your loved one.

How Does Outpatient Rehab Work?

Outpatient rehab works similarly to visiting a doctor or therapist for regular treatment sessions but is often far more intensive. Outpatient treatment can help you experience a strong, solid recovery from addiction as long as you attend your scheduled appointments and take medications properly as prescribed. Outpatient rehab can be structured in different ways to accommodate the needs of those in different stages of recovery.

Outpatient day programs usually offer the highest level of care and consist of hours-long treatment sessions that take place five to seven days per week. Therapies available at outpatient day programs include individual and group therapy, support groups, and recreational therapies like art or music therapy. Outpatient day programs may take up a large amount of time that leaves less time for work, school, and home, but do allow patients to return to their homes or sober living facilities at the end of every day.

Intensive outpatient programs are similar to outpatient day programs, but consume far less time and may use certain milestones to help track your treatment progress. The time you spend at these programs will gradually decrease as you demonstrate your ability to maintain sobriety and healthy recovery. Intensive outpatient programs are normally more ideal for those who must also manage household, work, and school responsibilities.

Aftercare programs are long-term programs aimed at helping you avoid relapse and stay focused on your recovery indefinitely. These programs may occur daily, weekly, or less frequently, and allow you to attend therapy and counseling sessions on an ongoing basis. Aftercare helps you focus on rebuilding and improving your life without the urge or need to engage in harmful behaviors related to addiction.

Who Should Get Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab is ideal for those whose lives have not yet been too deeply affected by drug or alcohol abuse at the time they realize they need help. Ideal candidates for outpatient rehab are those who have decided to seek treatment on their own without being urged to by friends, family, and doctors, and who are fully committed to treatment and to experiencing a full, lasting recovery. If you’re intent on maintaining your career, education, and relationships without making others in your life aware of your addiction, then outpatient rehab may be ideal for you.

Outpatient rehab requires your time, commitment, and dedication, and your ability to attend regularly scheduled treatment sessions. You must also agree to maintain abstinence from drugs and alcohol, and arrange for inpatient treatment if you are unable to stay sober and maintain recovery.

People who have healthy, safe, supportive environments at home may want to consider outpatient rehab since social support systems are often crucial to experiencing a well-rounded recovery from addiction. Home environments must be drug and alcohol-free and without exposure to triggers that commonly lead to relapse. Outpatient rehab may also be ideal for you if you’re at an important stage in your career or schooling and can’t risk spending too much time away from your work or studies.

Where Can I Find Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient treatment is always the better choice for addiction recovery versus attempting to go through this difficult process on your own. Outpatient rehab may not be the easiest treatment option for some and requires your time and effort for you to achieve results.

If you require 24/7 care in a controlled environment without access to drugs and alcohol, you may fare better with inpatient or residential treatment. But if you strongly desire to end your substance abuse and focus on your recovery, outpatient rehab may be your best treatment option. Outpatient rehab is available in nearly every city and state to help you overcome addiction and substance use.

Types of Outpatient

Medical Reviewer
Dr Matthew N. Parker, MD
General Practitioner Physician
Read Bio
Dr. Matthew N. Parker is a native of Lubbock, Texas and now lives in deep East Texas. He was trained at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the Conroe Family Medicine Residency in Conroe, Texas. He's spent 20 years as a practicing physician, 15 of which have been spent treating patients with substance use disorders.