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Outpatient Programs & Rehab Centers

The misuse of drugs and alcohol is a national problem. Those who misuse drugs have the potential to develop a substance use disorder (SUD), which is an addiction to a substance. It’s important to remember that addiction is a disease, and while that disease cannot be cured, it can be treated so that individuals can live health and fulfilling lives free from drugs and alcohol.

In 2020, 16.9% of people 18 and over (41.4 million people) had either inpatient or outpatient mental health services or took prescription medication in the past year, with 8.8% (21.5 million people) receiving outpatient services.2 When it comes to treatment for SUDs, there are various options available. There are several levels of care, so it is important to find the right level of care and program for you. One of these levels of care is outpatient treatment, and it may be the right treatment strategy for you.


What is Outpatient Drug Rehab?

In an outpatient program, people who are receiving treatment for their drug or alcohol misuse continue to live at home. While sometimes not as intensive as inpatient, outpatient rehabilitation programs are typically considered to be as effective as inpatient treatment for those who are dealing with mild to moderate addiction and have a strong foundation of support.1

Different from inpatient treatment because the patient does not live at the facility, outpatient treatment can have varying levels of intensity as well as services provided. Those that are low intensity may provide substance education, but those programs that are more intensive, including intensive day treatment, may be comparable to inpatient programs regarding services and effectiveness.3 For some, outpatient treatment may be a step taken in treatment after an inpatient program has been completed.

Outpatient treatment varies depending on the type and intensity of services provided.4 One possibility for intensive outpatient treatment is at least 9 hours per week, typically in three 3-hour sessions. Other programs may provide longer hours while some may offer only 6 hours per week.5 Hours may vary depending on the level of care being offered in a program. Low- and moderate-intensity care may only occur once or twice a week.4

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab centers can range from a couple hours per week to several hours per day, depending on the specific program. The types of staff members vary according to the treatment program as well. You’ll want to do your research before choosing an outpatient recovery program that best suits your needs.


Who Benefits from Outpatient Rehabs?

There are many factors that one can use to determine whether or not any one clinic or rehab facility is a wiser choice than alternatives. The types of treatments offered matter quite a lot and should never be overlooked when considering treatment facility options. But, when you’re looking for the best outpatient drug rehab centers to give you the help you need, other factors should be considered, including flexibility, support, and cost.

Flexibility is important because flexible programs can evolve as addiction treatment needs change. If someone in outpatient substance abuse treatment isn’t responding to one type of treatment, these facilities can quickly change to a different type of treatment to maximize the odds of success.

Support is one of the most compelling requirements to look for in the best outpatient rehabilitation centers. Without support, you’re left on your own to deal with temptation, withdrawal, and countless other pitfalls you may face as you struggle with addiction. Support is not a luxury, and it certainly isn’t an option. The clinic in question needs to offer around-the-clock support for all patients seeking substance abuse treatment.

The cost of rehab programs, as unpleasant as it may be to consider, is also very important when deciding on a treatment facility. There are certain triggers that can send someone back into addiction. Financial trouble is one of those triggers. There is no price too high to pay for sobriety, but it only works if you’re able to remain sober once the bills start rolling in. The good news is that outpatient treatment often costs considerably less than residential programming and more insurance companies are beginning to cover addiction treatment.

Not everyone who needs addiction treatment needs to receive 24/7 care in an inpatient facility. Some individuals, especially those with less severe substance use disorders, those who have not relapsed before, and those who are further along in recovery (beyond detox and inpatient) may find that outpatient care provides them with the support and treatment they need to work toward recovery.


Do You Need a High Level of Care?

While outpatient rehab can provide quality treatment to individuals while they live at home and continue to work or go to school, outpatient treatment is not for everyone. Some people would benefit from going to a higher level of care first. Inpatient drug and alcohol addiction rehabs provide care and supervision around-the-clock for patients who live on the premises for the duration of the program.

If a person has undergone detox and achieved stability, there may still be a few reasons why they should consider inpatient addiction treatment as opposed to outpatient addiction treatment. People who may benefit from inpatient include:4

  • Those with severe addictions.
  • Those with polydrug addictions.
  • Those with co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Those with special medical considerations or concerns.
  • Those with a high risk of violence or suicide.
  • Those without reliable transportation to the facility.
  • Those without the ability to provide informed consent.
  • Those with low motivation or a history of treatment noncompliance.

Everyone has different needs, so it will be important to make sure you are able to identify what yours are as you pursue treatment. Once you and your doctor decide on an appropriate treatment level for you, typically done through an assessment to determine the best level of care, you’ll want to take individual outpatient programs into consideration. Each one is different, varying in location, support, flexibility, amenities and services, and cost.


Levels of Outpatient Care

There are different levels of outpatient care that can vary greatly depending on the services offered and the care needed. People may progress from a higher level to a lower level as they go through treatment.

Common levels of outpatient care include:1,5

  • Standard outpatient: This is the least intensive setting and often involves 1-2 treatment sessions per week for 1-2 hours each. You’ll likely meet with a therapist in a clinic or office location.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs): These programs primarily consist of nonmedical staff members. Patients receive treatment about 3 times a week, for 2-3 hours per session. This is sometimes used as step-down treatment for someone who has recently completed treatment in an inpatient setting and wants ongoing support.
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs): Also called “day treatment,” these programs are the most intensive of the outpatient programs. They employ a combination of nonmedical and medical staff members. These programs meet 5-7 days per week for several hours at a time. This level of outpatient treatment is also a common form of step-down care for those who have completed treatment in a residential setting.”

Outpatient Drug Rehab Services & Programming

By now you know that there are a lot of excellent programs that help people successfully achieve sobriety. Finding the best rehab program requires that you do a considerable amount of in-depth research to learn about the approach that various facilities take in their treatment regimens. Some factors to inquire about include:

  • Counseling approaches (e.g., the amount of group vs. individual sessions; specific behavioral therapeutic techniques used, such as CBT, MI, etc.)
  • Does the outpatient program provide certain treatment medications, if needed
  • How the program adapts to the changing needs of the patient
  • Does the program take a health-centered approach that deals with all aspects of patient health and wellness

Programming varies by facility, patient, and program, but may include some of the following:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Relapse prevention
  • Co-occurring care

The more you know about the approach to treatment, the better you’ll be able to identify the program that might be the best fit for you and your needs for recovery. It might seem like a lot to take in as you search for the top outpatient rehab centers in your area, but the reward of finding the right one for you is a life free from addiction. That’s worth a little extra time and effort to make sure you’ve found the best possible outpatient addiction treatment center to meet your individual needs.


Paying for An Outpatient Treatment Program

It is important to consider the cost of the program you are looking into. While not always the case, outpatient does tend to be less expensive than inpatient rehab. However, cost still plays an important role in choosing a program.

Under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), insurance companies are now required to provide substance abuse treatment services to the same extent that they do medical/surgical services. If you have insurance, it’s likely that you will receive at least partial, if not full, coverage of your drug and alcohol addiction treatment program. Your insurance typically agrees to cover what is deemed “medically necessary,” which is why it is so important to seek out a professional evaluation if you are considering entering a recovery program. Your doctor or therapist can diagnose you with a substance use disorder and provide you with the proper documentation to submit to your insurance provider.

If you don’t have insurance or only receive partial coverage, there are several ways that you can finance your treatment and receive the help you need to get clean and sober. Some examples of payment options include:

  • Sliding scale fees, in which rehabs only charge you what you can reasonably afford.
  • Payment plans, in which rehabs allow you to pay off your treatment costs in manageable installments.
  • Purchase affordable insurance on the healthcare marketplace.
  • Take out a healthcare loan or open a healthcare credit card.
  • Use crowdfunding options, such as GoFundMe.
  • Use your savings.

Some organizations, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), offer grants or scholarships to those who need help funding their addiction treatment. You’ll want to check those out periodically if you’re looking for an affordable way to recover.


Choosing an Outpatient Rehab

As you begin to look at the various alcohol and drug rehab programs available, remember that there are several options, and one will be right for you. Finding the right program is important and could impact your recovery. Make sure to do your research and consider various factors including location, cost, and specialty programming.

Once you are ready to start looking for help, finding the right treatment program can be overwhelming. American Addiction Centers’ admissions navigators can help with this process, providing you with information, guidance, and support. Reach out to them by calling today to verify your insurance and determine the right option for you. You can also use our rehab directory to find a treatment center.


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