Is Outpatient Rehab Right For Me? [A Comprehensive Guide]
Drug and alcohol addiction can be a devastating situation for anyone, but for many it can be overcome with the help of an outpatient rehab program. Addiction, like any other disease, typically requires specialized professional treatment in order to become contained. While there are many different forms of treatment for substance abuse, one of the most common is outpatient rehab which allows for patients to receive treatment for their substance abuse issues without going away to an inpatient facility for an extended period of time.
Drug and alcohol addiction is a disease which does not discriminate, in fact it can impact those in virtually every social or economic class. This means that people from all walks of life, each with individual circumstances, are in need of effective treatment for substance abuse. While some people are capable of dedicating months of their lives to their recovery in order to check in to an inpatient facility, many others are unable to do so because of responsibilities that they have to their families or employers. This is one of the main reasons why outpatient rehab programs were developed, in order to help those who cannot completely stop their lives in order to get help with their addiction.
Outpatient treatment is also beneficial as part of a continuum of care. Many people choose to attend outpatient rehabs after they have completed an inpatient or residential treatment program in order to help them to translate the things that they learned during their inpatient stay into their everyday lives. One of the most common times for relapse is the first week or two after someone completes inpatient treatment and does not transition into an outpatient rehab program. This is because the relative safety and stability of the residential center does not accurately represent the challenges and stresses that most people face in their day to day lives. This is why outpatient treatment is so helpful, allowing people to participate in their lives while still offering the support of a team of substance abuse professionals who can help them when a stressful or triggering situation arises.
Is outpatient rehab right for me?
It is also important to keep in mind that outpatient treatment is not the most appropriate choice for everyone. It is typically suggested that those who are looking for treatment always do everything they can to first consider the potential for inpatient or residential treatment, and only those who absolutely have no other viable options should begin their substance abuse treatment at an outpatient rehab. While treatment at an outpatient rehab program can offer the patient a chance of success and sobriety, there are factors which are important to consider.
For one, because at an outpatient rehab program the patient is not living in a facility with 24-hour supervision it is extremely important that the person has a stable, healthy and supportive living environment. While outpatient treatment is able to offer intensive treatment for a patient while they are at the facility, they also need to be able to rely on the support of their friends and family if a craving or other issue were to occur when they are not at the outpatient rehab facility.
Another thing to consider is whether or not a medical detox is necessary. With some substances, it can be extremely uncomfortable or even dangerous to stop using “cold turkey” without medical supervision. This is usually the case with people who have been abusing things like alcohol, opiates or benzodiazepines. In these situations it will often be suggested that the patient complete either an inpatient or outpatient detox program in order to safely get the drugs out of their system before they begin treatment at the outpatient rehab program.
Outpatient rehab is not always appropriate for everyone. If you are considering treatment at an outpatient rehab there are a few questions that you should ask yourself in order to honestly assess if it is the right level of care for you or your loved one:
- Is my living environment healthy and supportive of my recovery? One of the benefits of inpatient treatment is being able to remove yourself from the environment you were in during your addiction. While this is beneficial to most, some people who have a very strong and healthy support network may be more successful in an outpatient rehab where their family and friends are able to be more active in their treatment.
- Are you exposed to drugs and/or alcohol at home or at work? Early sobriety can be very difficult for people who are continually exposed to situations where drugs or alcohol are around or being used. During the first few weeks of sobriety, those who don’t have constant and strong support may find themselves tempted to use if they are around drugs or alcohol.
- Do you have medical or psychological issues which may require treatment as well? Drug and alcohol abuse can often lead to other problems like medical or psychological issues. While not all of these require inpatient treatment, if they are severe it is often a good idea to consider inpatient treatment options in order to set you or your love one up for success.
- Are you able to take time away from work or school? Starting treatment in an outpatient setting is not always ideal. If you are considering outpatient treatment because of work or family obligations, it may be a good idea to talk to your family and employer to see if there is a possibility to take a short amount of time off in order to attend inpatient treatment before beginning at an outpatient rehab.
- Do you have reliable transportation to and from the outpatient rehab multiple times per week? Outpatient rehab programs typically require that you are able to find transportation to and from your weekly sessions. Many patients are able to transport themselves or rely on a family member or friend to help them. Some areas also have public transportation which can help.
Different forms of outpatient rehab programs
Another benefit to outpatient rehabs is that they typically offer several different levels of treatment depending on your needs and availability to participate in treatment. These forms can range from something as little as one day a week for a couple of hours all the way up to five days a week for 6-8 hours. While it is usually best to choose the program with the most treatment time that you are able to fit into your life, there are other considerations as well. Some people choose to participate in multiple forms of substance abuse treatment such as an outpatient rehab as well as individual therapy sessions and even 12-step meetings or other support groups.
These are the most common forms of outpatient treatment that most programs typically offer:
- Partial hospitalization – Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) are usually Monday through Friday and last most of the day. These programs are good for patients who want the most extensive treatment available but still want to live in their homes with their families. Because partial hospitalization programs require a lot of time spent at the treatment facility, they usually are not the best choice for people who have full time jobs.
- Intensive outpatient – Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) can vary quite a bit but usually consist of treatment sessions that are about 3 times a week for 2-3 hours per session. IOP programs are often times a good fit for those who feel that they need rather intensive treatment but still have significant commitments to things like work or family. There are even weekend IOP programs available in some areas.
- Aftercare – Aftercare programs are exactly what they sound like, the level of care which someone participates in after they have completed something like PHP or IOP. Aftercare programs are typically once a week for an hour or two and are mostly designed to provide some continued support to patients after they have completed a more intensive form of treatment. Because aftercare programs meet only once a week they are almost never recommended for those who are just beginning treatment for substance abuse.
Determining which one of these levels of outpatient treatment typically depends on the severity of someone’s drug or alcohol abuse, as well as their life circumstances which may preclude them from participating in one level of treatment over another. It is important to take the advice and feedback of other family members as well as treatment professionals during this time as well. This ensures that you do not misjudge you or your loved ones needs and enter them into an outpatient rehab program which does not offer a high enough level of care for their situation.
Finding the right outpatient rehab
Once you have assessed you or your loved one’s situation, if you have decided that an outpatient rehab program is the best choice the next step is finding the right program which meets your specific needs. While outpatient rehabs may seem to offer the same treatment, programs can sometimes have vastly different treatment methods and philosophies. Educating yourself about the differences in the programs which are available to you or your loved one is typically crucial to making sure that the best program is chosen.
These are a few of the questions you should ask an outpatient rehab before deciding on one:
- What forms of outpatient treatment does the program offer? While some programs may offer multiple levels and even days or times for outpatient treatment, some other programs may only have one type available.
- Does the program specialize in certain forms of addiction? Some programs may specialize in things like dual-diagnosis treatment or treatment for young adults. It is important to make sure that the program you choose is designed for patients with the same or similar situations to your own.
- Are the groups facilitated by licensed counselors? Treating substance abuse at any level is challenging and requires years of specialized training and certification. Most states have specific licenses for therapists who specialize in treating substance abuse.
- Is the program licensed and accredited? While most states have specific licenses for substance abuse treatment facilities, the requirements for these can vary. There are also national organizations such as JACHO which offer a more standardized accreditation for facilities across the country.
- Does the program accept my health insurance? Not all programs are able to accept all forms of medical insurance. It is important to find out if the program that you are considering is able to accept your form of health insurance as this will often be a large determining factor in your final decision.
Once you have obtained this information from a treatment center and feel that you have found the perfect center for your specific situation, you are well on your way to changing your life and obtaining the sobriety and happiness that you or your loved one truly deserve. There is help out there no matter what your situation, you don’t have to do this alone!