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How Does Outpatient Drug Rehab Work?

Not all drug rehab programs are the same. Every addict is different so every addict deserves a program that fits their recovery journey. Simply put, there are two main types of treatment programs: inpatient residential rehab programs and outpatient rehab programs. In an outpatient rehab program, the individual in recovery lives at home and attends groups and appointments with their counselor at the facility for treatment.

Inpatient vs Outpatient Drug Rehab

Program Duration and Flexibility

  • Inpatient: Most inpatient programs can last anywhere from thirty to ninety days, and for some, even up to a year. Inpatient programs require clients to live at the facility and, for at least the first couple weeks, do not provide much flexibility or contact with the family. There is also less flexibility in maintaining a life outside of treatment. For some, this restriction is necessary and can be lifesaving. Inpatient programs provide an intense level of care and guide the client away from their old environment, which was full of temptations and people who enabled or engaged in drug use. Inpatient treatment programs are necessary for addicts to safely detox and are also used to treat medical and mental health disorders. It is common for many addicts to begin treatment in an inpatient program and then transition into outpatient.
  • Outpatient: Outpatient treatment programs also vary. They differ in the time commitment required of the client in order to participate in the program. This can be anywhere from a few hours per week to several hours each day. The treatment consists of therapies provided in group and individual settings, and the majority of facilities have psychiatrists on-call to offer medical care and prescribe medications.

Currently, there is also additional flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, as outpatient treatment centers have started offering telehealth services so individuals in recovery can proceed with their treatment from the comfort of their home.

Outpatient treatments are sometimes organized in phases. At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we offer an intensive outpatient program where we assess clients’ current recovery status in order to provide optimal care and coverage during their personal recovery process. Clients are then assigned to different phases in the program, which designates how many hours and days they need to come into the facility for treatment. As they progress and complete their necessary assignments, they get bumped up to the next phase, where they can come in for fewer hours and days per week, while increasing the amount of time they spend integrating back into society, most likely with a Get Well Job.

Treatment Cost and Intensity of Care

  • Inpatient: One of the main distinctions between outpatient and inpatient programs is that inpatient programs offer 24/7 care at a residential facility. Residential facilities provide housing, constant supervision, and unlimited access to medical care. Due to this constant and thorough care, inpatient programs are usually more expensive than outpatient programs. Although understandable, price should not be a decision maker because saving a loved one’s life is priceless.
  • Outpatient: Outpatient rehab can take place in a variety of settings, from community mental health clinics, mental health counselors’ offices, and hospitals to residential rehab programs with outpatient programs. Outpatient programs differ in intensity of care, varying from one session per week to multiple sessions per day, five days per week. Some outpatient programs offer accountability through daily and weekly drug tests so clients cannot use while they are in the program.

At Boardwalk Recovery Center, our most intensive phase requires clients to visit the facility five days per week for six hours, three hours in the morning, three hours in the afternoon, with a lunch break. Group sessions run from 9 am to 4 pm with clients either attending all or some of the sessions throughout the day. At Boardwalk, the 9 am and 1 pm group sessions are process groups, the 10 am and 2 pm group sessions are psychoeducation, and the 11 am and 3 pm group sessions are relapse prevention groups. We have a variety of health professionals with a unique take on improving mental health, giving clients a multitude of perspectives and opportunities to engage in growth with an open mind.

Outpatient Services and Activities

Activities that clients may participate in at an outpatient treatment center could also include:

  • Psychoeducation to learn about substance abuse and how it affects the body
  • Development of life skills such as employment, wellness, socialization, communication, anger management, stress management, time management, financial responsibility, healthy relationships, and goal-setting
  • Relapse prevention training
  • Continued care via self-help groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we are committed to ensuring that our clients work on their recovery after their discharge from our outpatient program. We set up our clients with a strong foundation by introducing clients to continuing care groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, in their local community. We encourage and sometimes require attending these groups during treatment so clients are comfortable attending them on their own schedule.

Is Outpatient Rehab Right For You?

journey to addiction recovery signLike every treatment program, the program only works if the client works it. With that being said, an outpatient treatment program has the potential to work successfully for any client that walks into the facility with an open mind and willingness to succeed. Those who are the most likely to benefit from outpatient treatment programs are typically those with less severe addiction (although any level of an addiction is an addiction), no serious withdrawal, a stable lifestyle, a strong support system, and reliable transportation to arrive on time.

Outpatient isn’t the right fit for everyone. Individuals who may need more regimented treatment include:

  • people who have multiple addictions
  • individuals with a history of complicated withdrawal
  • anyone struggling with a lack of support systems
  • individuals with dual diagnosis mental health conditions
  • individuals with a history of relapse
  • clients who have dropped out of outpatient rehab before

If you are not sure whether outpatient is the right fit for you or your loved one, contact your preferred treatment center for more information. At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we take admissions seriously and you can contact our business development director to get more information about our program and get help from our team. If we determine that outpatient is not the best option, we will help guide you to which treatment is best for you or a loved one.

Does Outpatient Treatment Work?

Certain clients are more likely to benefit from outpatient rehab. These individuals might differ in the severity of their addiction, often struggling with mild to moderate substance use. These clients also have a lower risk of intense withdrawal and associated medical issues.

Additionally, outpatient rehab is more effective when clients have a strong support system of friends and family members, an unstoppable motivation to attend regular counseling sessions, and accessible transportation to get to and from treatment sessions on time.

Numerous studies have compared the relapse rates with both outpatient and inpatient treatment programs. Although no results are dominant, outpatient programs, particularly IOPs and PHPs, appear to be just as effective as inpatient programs in helping people stay sober.

  • One study concluded that an outpatient program for alcoholics had a 58% abstinence rate and a 79% improvement rate in patients at a two-year follow-up.
  • A review of twelve studies and one review published between 1995 and 2012 discovered that IOPs and PHPs produced similar reductions in drug and alcohol use and increases in days abstinent compared to inpatient or residential programs.

Having An Aftercare Treatment Plan

Successfully completing and graduating from an outpatient program is an achievement. However, it is important to acknowledge that it is only the beginning of recovery for most people. Treatment is different from recovery. Recovery is a lifetime devotion to a sober lifestyle, which requires putting the work in to maintain sobriety. Before clients leave treatment, the majority of programs set up an aftercare plan and provide resources to reach out to in times of need. The aftercare plan can include setting clients up with opportunities for individual therapy, group counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, and alumni programs.

At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we have staff dedicated to our alumni, including checking on our past outpatient clients because we know that recovery is never over. Recovery is an ongoing process that takes hard work and the support of those around you. Outpatient treatment sets the foundation for recovery, but the individual in recovery has to continue putting in effort after treatment ends.

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