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What You Need to Know About Outpatient Drug Rehab


Sober Recovery Expert Author

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Drug rehabilitation can be accomplished in a variety of ways, depending upon the individual addict’s circumstances and conditions. There are those who choose an inpatient rehab, some choose an outpatient rehab program and others decide to go it alone at home.

Outpatient drug rehab is a popular choice because it gives the user more freedom to move around and live their life during treatment. While inpatient programs reap the highest recovery success rate, outpatient programs work when they are properly executed and followed as prescribed.

Drug rehabilitation can be accomplished in a variety of ways, depending upon the individual addict's circumstances and conditions.

Outpatient rehab programs are located in a vast selection of venues from a mental health clinic to a counselor’s office. There are more outpatient options available than structured inpatient facilities.

Outpatient Versus Inpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab is beneficial because it offers:

  • A similar basic program to the inpatient choice, but is offered in a different environment

  • The patient to maintain their personal commitments to family, work and school

  • Greater anonymity because the patient can continue with daily activities and not have to explain a prolonged absence to family, colleagues and friends

  • A high level of support for the patient through support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), individual counseling and family counseling

The Downside of Outpatient Rehab

While similar in the program basics, there are some downsides to outpatient versus inpatient programs, which include:

  • There is not a safe, drug free environment for the addict to be in for 24 hours a day

  • Outpatient requires more fortitude on the part of the patient to voluntarily abstain from drug use because their daily environment is not as protected for recovery as it would be in an inpatient program

How Outpatient Rehab Works

Outpatient rehab is most beneficial for a drug addict who:

  • Has a mild addiction

  • Can be treated with some prescribed medication to help with detox

  • Has limited funds to pay for an inpatient program

  • Has a strong support group of family and friends to guide them through the journey

An outpatient rehab uses a tapering off method for the abuse substance to leave the user’s system. They use a non-addictive substitute drug to help with the withdrawal symptoms. There is a higher failure rate with this method. Outpatient rehab depends heavily upon group therapy sessions and outside support groups like 12-step programs.

Intensive outpatient programs require varying amounts of time. There are usually one to two hours of therapy a week and ten to twenty hours of counseling involved each week. The patient returns home after a daytime or evening program or therapy session. Acute outpatient treatment runs about three months but can be as short as one-month duration.

The Price of Rehab

The difference in the cost of inpatient drug rehab versus an outpatient program is significant. Inpatient treatment can cost between $6,000 and $30,000 for the traditional 30-day program. Outpatient programs cost as low as $2,000 for a 60-day program but also can increase based upon the program particulars.

Most health insurance plans offer some portion of coverage for both inpatient and outpatient treatment.

Outcomes of Outpatient Treatment

The decision to quit abusing a substance and the commitment to following through with that decision are the keys to a successful recovery, whether an inpatient or outpatient rehab program.

The next important key to long-term success is follow-up care and a maintenance program including support group meetings, asking for help from family, friends and/or a sponsor when temptation hits. Outpatient substance abuse recovery can be done with the proper tools and support.

If you or someone you know is seeking help with addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-772-8219 to start the path to recovery today.

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