Outpatient rehab is a less intensive form of drug rehabilitation in which individuals attend the program during the day or night for several hours each week, and are then able to return home to their lives each night. There are a number of aspects of outpatient rehab that should be seriously considered prior to deciding on this form of addiction treatment for any addicted individual.
Outpatient Rehab Benefits
Outpatient rehab is structured to be more convenient for individuals to go to work, school, and/or attend to daily responsibilities, yet also get the therapy and guidance offered in a drug rehab program to support continued sobriety and recovery from addiction.
The benefits of outpatient rehab are the convenience and freedoms offered by such programs, which are typically a continuum of residential programs upon completion.
In outpatient rehab programs, individuals continue to live at their homes, and can either drive themselves, or get a ride to the rehab facility where they participate in many of the same forms of therapy and classes offered by inpatient rehab programs. Quite often, outpatient rehab is located in an inpatient rehab facility.
Depending on the program, an outpatient rehab may have a minimum hourly requirement of attendance per week. This kind of structure provides individuals with the flexibility to choose what days and times during the week they would like to attend their program. This often includes the option for evening and weekend attendance as well.
The ability for individuals to carry on with their daily lives, and return to their homes each night makes outpatient rehab a viable option for continued care and support for recovery from addiction. It is not uncommon for individuals in residential rehab programs to feel isolated when they are away from their loved ones. While this isolation from the home environment is very valuable in focusing the individual on his or her treatment program, the ability to transition to an outpatient rehab program where home is incorporated in continued care is a tremendous benefit for an addict in recovery. Not only can he/she continue to focus on the rehab program, but also begin to integrate recovery with home life.
Transition From Residential To Outpatient Rehab
When an individual attends residential rehab, one of the main goals of the program is to prepare him or her for returning home, and being able to do so while remaining in recovery. One of the most difficult things for an addict to do is to come back to his or her home environment from residential rehab, yet continue to maintain sobriety and the same lifestyle from within the walls of the rehab facility. This difficulty is common among recovering addicts for several reasons:
- At home, various people, places, and things associated with addiction will confront the addict, and he or she must be able to employ the tools and skills learned in rehab to prevent relapse
- At home, responsibilities, obligations, and stressors of normal life come back to the forefront. Addicts must be able to make the transition to a much higher level of responsibility and awareness when returning home, while remaining sober. This transition can incorporate small things, like remembering to take out the trash, to major responsibilities like caring for children.
- Once out of a residential rehab program, there is no force other than the recovering addict to stop addictive drugs and alcohol from coming around him or her. In a residential rehab program, drugs and alcohol are strictly prohibited, but this is not necessarily the case in one’s home environment.
The level of responsibility and pressure to remain sober is significantly increased after leaving a residential program, and it is for this reason that outpatient rehab is so important and valuable.
When a recovering addict transitions to outpatient rehab from a residential program, he or she is making an important decision to ensure the best possible chance for sustained sobriety and recovery from addiction. Outpatient rehab programs offer many of the same therapies and services as residential programs, which include such things as:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Support group integration and resources
- Individualized planning for continued sobriety (an extension of aftercare)
- Classes and courses on drug and alcohol education and awareness
- Relapse prevention measures
- Periodic or random drug testing
The length of an outpatient rehab program varies, and is typically offered on the same 30-day cycle as residential rehab programs. Individuals can commit to outpatient rehab for 30 days, and up to 120 days, or more. The length of time an individual may opt to participate in an outpatient rehab program depends on how well he or she is transitioning to home life while maintaining sobriety.
Structure and Control Of Outpatient Rehab
Many people believe outpatient rehab to be completely unsupervised, allowing addicts to relapse and do whatever they please while in the program. The fact of the matter is that most outpatient rehabs require regular or random drug and alcohol testing for every individual within the program. Additionally, if an individual is behaving in such a way that he or she is suspected of relapse, or is disruptive to the program and other attendees, he or she may be subject to dismissal from the program. Many outpatient rehabs that follow a 12-step recovery program require attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, as well as a sponsor, with whom the recovering addict maintains constant contact. Establishing the connections for meetings and sponsors is typically something the program staff will facilitate for each individual.
Depending on the program, there may be a number of required activities, relationships, and/or meetings that attendees must maintain. This is done in the interest of keeping every individual on the path to recovery, with his or her sobriety at the forefront, rather than allowing the everyday bustle of life to overshadow the importance of routine in sobriety. Each outpatient rehab program has its own set of standards, rules, and expectations. The one thing that remains consistent is the dedication of staff within these programs to assist in the continuation of sobriety and recovery from addiction.
Outpatient Rehab Liabilities
Although outpatient rehab has tremendous benefits to individuals who have completed an residential rehab program, it has one key component that may be more than addicts in early recovery can handle, and that is the freedom. Outpatient rehab allows individuals to return home each day, go about their daily activities and plan their time at rehab around their personal lives. While this freedom and flexibility is enjoyable and preferable for many individuals, those early in recovery may not be able to handle such responsibility. For example, transitioning directly to outpatient rehab from detox, after a multiple year-long drug addiction is likely not going to be successful for a number of reasons:
- Detox alone does not address the underlying and root causes of addiction and the behaviors that drive it
- After many years of addiction, several habits surrounding acquiring and using drugs have formed. Addicts are accustomed to waking up and doing drugs before their shower, or using before work, or picking up drugs on the way home from work, etc.
- Long-term addiction likely has personal ties to home and the surrounding neighborhoods, which makes the home environment full of triggers for relapse in the form of people, places, and things associated with prior use
- Detox does nothing to prepare an addict for returning home and facing stress and responsibilities, while sober for the first time in multiple years
- The change and damage done to the brain by drug addiction is not quickly reversible, and in severe cases, some damage can be permanent. It takes time for the brain of addicts to once again begin to produce the quantities of chemicals that regulate mood, pleasure, senses of pain, and judgment.
- While included on most every list of withdrawal symptoms for every addictive drug, intense cravings also take time to fade, especially for an addict who has been using for multiple years. Without the structure and control of a facility 24 hours a day, addicts left to their own will and no strong foundation for recovery, are not likely to abstain from drugs and alcohol in an outpatient program after detox.
Although outpatient rehab has many benefits, it is important to consider the whole picture of the individual and his or her environmental and emotional influences before making a decision on the best form of addiction treatment once detox has been completed. Outpatient rehab is a tremendously supportive program on the path to recovery from addiction, and for some individuals, outpatient rehab is all that is needed to get back on track, and maintain sobriety for life. However, there are some circumstances under which outpatient rehab may not be the best choice prior to completing a residential rehab program. In addition to long-term addiction, these circumstances include:
- Serious trauma or personal issues with which an individual has not reconciled
- Negative environmental factors such as a drug and crime infested neighborhood
- Co-occupants of an individual’s home who use drugs and/or alcohol
- Severely dysfunctional relationships within a family or with a loved one, especially one who abuses drugs and/or alcohol
- Mental or physical conditions for which a recovering addict was prescribed addictive drugs
- Previous failed attempts to stay sober after detox
- Outpatient rehab is often offered as an extension to residential rehab, and is generally best suited when used in that manner. However, a number of individuals who have not had severe addictions have been able to attend outpatient rehab and maintain their sobriety with the tools and resources provided within the program.
The decision of whether or not outpatient rehab is right for you, or your addicted loved one is a careful one to make. There are many considerations, mostly surrounding the question of if the addict can handle the freedom and flexibility of the outpatient structure, as opposed to the control and supervision of a residential program.
If you, or your loved one is in need of rehab, and not sure where to turn, please call us now at 1 (866) 445-4137 to speak with a trained counselor who will talk with you about your situation, and help you to determine the level and type of care that will be most effective in ensuring long-term sobriety and recovery from addiction.
Regardless of the final choice, don’t wait for addiction to get any worse. Some help is always better than none at all, but we will help you to maximize your time and money in finding the best choice, based on the needs, preferences, and belief system of yourself or your addicted loved one. The only time rehab is guaranteed not to work is the time before you call and get help. Please call now and get the help you need and deserve.