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What is an Outpatient Rehab?

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What is an outpatient rehab?

Addiction to alcohol or any drug can be extremely serious, but with the right intervention at the right time, it can also be manageable. Support from loved ones is also crucial for a successful recovery. When one thinks of “rehab”, they may be full of questions and even a little bit of fear and hesitancy as most people think of rehab as only inpatient programs. But, there is also another option, depending on your needs, medical history, and severity of addiction and that is outpatient treatment.

Though it may not be for everyone, outpatient treatments remain some of the most popular rehab programs with an excellent success rate. They are also an essential part of the overall recovery process as many patients are recommended to continue treatment through outpatient programs even after they have successfully completed an inpatient treatment. As an outpatient rehab in Charleston, we provide state-of-the-art services to all kinds of patients, through research proven techniques and methodologies.

What is an outpatient rehab facility?

Outpatient rehab is a non-residential addiction treatment program that is based on therapies, weekly evaluations, and overall health assessment. Outpatient treatment does not require onsite living and it does not provide any housing arrangements as part of its addiction treatment.

Anyone struggling with addiction can visit this treatment center if advised by their healthcare provider and receive professional treatment advice as part of their drug addiction treatment. You are not required to spend time at any specific treatment center, as in the case of an inpatient program. You live in your own home and attend group therapy weekly at the outpatient care center.

Unlike inpatient rehab, outpatient programs do not offer cafeterias, gyms, libraries, computer rooms, or 24/7 supervision and intensive care. Patients can usually either join the standard outpatient rehab, intensive outpatient program, or part-hospitalization rehab.

Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab

There are quite a few differences between inpatient and outpatient care, but the most prominent is the style of treatment and the duration.

Inpatient rehab can last anywhere between a month and 90 days. During this time, the patient is required to stay at the premises, under the supervision of their medical provider and other clinical staff. Inpatient treatment is also common in cases where there is severe addiction to drugs and alcohol and the patient requires thorough therapeutic and physical support.

These treatment centers provide the ideal environment for long-term recovery and also provide access to cafeterias that serve meals prepared and recommended by your nutritionist, music rooms, gyms, swimming pools, computer labs, libraries, etc. The stable environment at inpatient facilities help patients solely focus on their mental and physical recovery without outside influences jeopardizing their progress.

On the other hand, outpatient treatment programs allow the person to live at their own residence while also continuing performing daily tasks such as going to work, grocery shopping, etc. These treatment programs work best for people suffering from mild addiction and who do not require to be enrolled in rehab facilities.

However, that doesn’t mean that outpatient facilities aren’t fit for those with severe addiction. At times, patients who have successfully completed their inpatient treatment will be asked to continue treatment through outpatient care so their recovery is long-term and effective. You will be required to attend weekly sessions, group therapy, educational seminars, and one-on-one sessions with a therapist regarding your progress.

As stated by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “relapse rates for addiction resemble those of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and asthma,” and approximately 40-60% of individuals may experience relapse. This is why continuing with outpatient care after a successful inpatient rehab treatment is vital for long-term success.

How to know if outpatient rehab is the right choice for you?

Before you sign up for an outpatient treatment program, it is important to know if it is even right for you and suitable to your current needs. This depends entirely on the recommendation of your primary healthcare provider as well as the severity of your addiction.

However, research has shown that the most suitable candidates for outpatient facilities are those who may be suffering from mild or moderate addictions. It is also advised for people who have a strong support network in the shape of family and friends. Those who can afford the expense of transportation to the center and who also have the right will and motivation to attend these sessions regularly with a low risk of withdrawal.

It is not the right choice for you or your loved one if experiencing severe drug or alcohol addiction. For this reason, it is advisable to instead opt for an inpatient facility as risk of complications are high and withdrawal symptoms may be too strong to control.

People who live alone and do not have a strong support system or who suffer from long-lasting, co-occurring physical or mental health conditions, should also stick to inpatient facilities instead as the risk of relapse is higher.

Whether outpatient rehab is suitable for you or not also depends on your doctor’s recommendation. Always be candid when discussing your struggles with any form of addiction and other underlying health conditions so your healthcare provider can make a wise decision based on all these critical factors.

What to expect at an outpatient drug treatment facility?

If you choose to enroll for outpatient care, then you will live at home and visit the facility a few times a week for treatment. Outpatient rehab has different programs that vary in terms of duration, commitment, and severity of addiction. Some may require you to attend for several hours a week, while others demand one or two visits per week.

Before the outpatient treatment begins, you will have to get in touch with a staff member and discuss your addiction patterns, previous medical history, health concerns, etc. This will help the medical team to develop a specific treatment plan for you with goals and milestones that make your therapy more effective. You will also be asked to fill in a range of forms and documents in detail so your treatment plan is completely customized to your needs.

Once completed, you will be expected to follow the plan strictly. Your healthcare providers will inform you about the rules and the duration of the program. In case any tests are required, you will also have to appear for them to ensure you’re not taking alcohol or other substances whilst enrolled in the program. Additionally, patients will have to attend regular therapy sessions as well as complete a variety of assignments.

What are the benefits of outpatient rehab?

Outpatient drug rehab can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. Not only is it an excellent way to continue progress even after successful inpatient treatment, but it also allows you to go about your daily tasks and continue your job without any interruptions.

There is no need to leave your loved ones behind when starting treatment as you will be living with them throughout. It is also a lot more affordable than inpatient treatment programs, which are otherwise covered by insurance. Outpatient rehab also creates a strong support system in the form of group counseling sessions, therapies, family therapy sessions, etc. It provides access to excellent psychiatric care that is necessary to combat addiction.

By providing ample motivation, post-treatment care, outreach resources, etc., outpatient drug rehab programs can ensure a speedy, long-term recovery.

What are the different types of intensive outpatient programs?

As is the case with any treatment program, outpatient treatments may also vary and it is important to determine which suits your needs best. The type of treatment that works best for you depends on the substance of addiction, stage of recovery, and the intensity of withdrawal. However, there are 3 general types of outpatient rehab programs:

1. Day therapies

As the name suggests, day therapies require patients to attend therapy sessions for a few or several hours a day. They can be quite demanding and require consistency and commitment, which can affect work or school life.

2. Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive Outpatient Program creates smart goals and milestones for individuals so they can witness their progress and success. The more you meet your goals, the less time required to commit to therapies. This program is best suited to those who are working to recover from drugs and alcohol while also investing enough time in their personal lives and other day-to-day activities and chores.

3. Continuing care

Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous are run by experienced and licensed therapists and offer ongoing support or continuous care by holding weekly sessions, talking therapies, group counseling, etc. These groups can also be age or gender-specific so patients with certain preferences can feel at ease and trust the process.

Outpatient Drug or Alcohol Rehab Therapies

There are different types of therapies that patients may receive at an outpatient rehab treatment facility. Besides group counseling, there are individual sessions that focus on you and allow the therapist to understand your addiction history, past traumas, and other challenges. Depending on each patient’s needs, outpatient rehab may suggest one of the following therapies:

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT aims to change the way an individual perceives or views certain situations. It equips you with the necessary coping skills to avoid the risk of relapse or allow your addiction to control you. It teaches you valuable lessons as well as the positive or negative consequences of drug abuse, and how you can resist cravings.

2. Motivational Enhancement

In this form of therapy, your therapist will engage with you to find a motivational reason to help bring positive change in your life and create the mental strength to battle the lure of addiction.

3. The Matrix

This therapy style blends several techniques including a through 12-step meeting schedule, family counseling, drug and alcohol education sessions, relapse prevention guidelines, drug testing, etc.

4. Contingency Management

This style of therapy works on the reward system model and provides ample incentives for good behaviors such as a clear drug test.

5. Family Counseling

By having a unique session with your closest friends and family, this therapy model ensures a strong support network and helps build enough resilience to work through family issues.

How long does outpatient treatment last?

The duration of any outpatient facility may vary depending on the treatment and the needs of the patient. For the most part, outpatient care can last for 8-10 weeks. There are other options where you can simply attend weekly therapy sessions which reduce in number as you move forward and make progress.

Is outpatient drug rehab enough for recovery?

While outpatient drug rehab is extremely successful in helping people overcome addictive tendencies, the road to a long-term recovery and sobriety is a lengthy and challenging one. Even when you have successfully completed your outpatient rehab program, treatment providers and your certified addiction professional will recommend post-care outpatient alcohol rehab facilities to eliminate chances of relapsing.

Your treatment provider may also recommend a 12-step program, AA, NA, or one-on-one therapy so that you can maintain your results for longer and stay motivated.


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.