Outpatient rehab is a viable option for those seeking help overcoming their drug or alcohol addictions. While the treatment offers some of the same kind of motivation and support as traditional inpatient rehab does, it doesn’t include the same kind of restrictions.

Most commonly, outpatient rehab will supersede inpatient rehab in an attempt to acclimate newly sober individuals into their new lives and ensure that treatment is successful. You wouldn’t get an oil change once and expect the car to run for the rest of your life, right? When recovering from an addiction, it’s best to continue seeking support after your initial inpatient treatment to stay on the path to recovery.

However, those with a mild to moderate addiction that have not attended inpatient rehab can still benefit from outpatient treatment. This type of rehab offers enough flexibility for patients to continue on with their daily lives while providing therapy, support groups, and medical plans that aid the individual in breaking their addiction.

So, how does outpatient rehab work? Stay tuned and we will explore what outpatient treatment is and help you decide if this kind of rehab is right for you or your loved one.

What is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab is a type of rehabilitation treatment that helps individuals recover from substance abuse addictions without requiring them to stay overnight in a facility. While there are different degrees of outpatient treatment, which we will go over shortly, the main difference between outpatient and inpatient rehab is the flexibility that the former offers. There are many similarities to the two, but outpatient rehab allows participants to come and go from the facility as they please.

This type of rehab can work wonders for people who are willing to do the work to take their lives back from their addictions. Outpatient rehabilitation combines professional psychotherapy with peer support and coping skills designed to help the patient overcome their addiction and begin a path towards healing.

Next, let’s look at a few different types of outpatient rehabilitation programs.

Partial Hospitalization Programs

Partial hospitalization programs are designed for individuals that benefit from structure but don’t require around-the-clock medical assistance. While this type of rehab can offer detox solutions, it is not for those who suffer life-threatening withdrawal symptoms or pose a significant danger to themselves.

Many places offer different degrees of partial hospitalization programs. Some feature community housing that is not quite as restrictive as traditional inpatient lodging but still provides assistance and oversight to those trying to break their addiction. Others involve intensive day programs that enable the patient to return to their home after their sessions are completed. This option is great for people who have a healthy, supportive home environment to return to during their recovery.

These types of programs were originally developed as mental health treatment because they combine medical treatment options with behavioral therapy. As addiction began to be recognized as a psychological and biological disorder, partial hospitalization rehab became increasingly popular as a method of treatment for drug abuse and alcohol abuse disorder.

Persons who choose to go through a partial hospitalization program usually need medical monitoring, but not so much so that they are unable to return to their homes safely in the evening.  This allows them to design a rigorous treatment plan around their specific needs.

Intensive Outpatient Programs

This type of addiction rehabilitation program is much like the partial hospitalization outpatient program in that it provides comprehensive care for people struggling with addiction problems. Intensive outpatient rehab programs are typically designed for individuals with a mild to moderate addiction problem or for past users who have already gone through an inpatient program.

During a patient’s experience in an intensive outpatient rehab, he or she will likely be required to participate in individual therapy and group therapy several times a week. Therapies may include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, couples therapy, or motivational interviewing. The intensive outpatient experience should be tailored to the individual’s needs and be adjusted as necessary to accommodate the recovery process.

Those who elect to participate in these programs are ready and willing to make a change but seek support and guidance. Medical professionals will lead in individual and group therapy sessions aimed at helping the patient dismantle the damage from their substance abuse and begin taking steps towards a healthier life.

Outpatient Rehab

An outpatient rehab program helps equip patients with the knowledge and skills they need to commit to sobriety and overcome their addictions. While the patient is required to attend regularly scheduled therapy sessions several days a week, they are able to continue living in their home and carrying on with their jobs, families, and other obligations. The duration of outpatient programs vary, but typically these treatments will last up to six months.

Like the rehab programs listed above, outpatient treatment provides a combination of one-on-one and group therapy sessions to help support the patient’s quest for sobriety. The main difference between outpatient rehab and intensive outpatient rehab is that the latter demands a higher time commitment, making it difficult for the patient to continue with work, school, or other duties. This is why outpatient rehab is generally recommended to those that are able to carry on with their daily lives but struggle with a substance abuse problem.

How Does Outpatient Treatment Work?

Most outpatient rehab programs will offer a similar set of therapy sessions that are proven to be successful in helping people overcome addiction. A medical professional will assess the patient’s needs and assign a treatment plan that will give he or she the tools to take control of their addiction. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of treatments outpatient rehab programs feature. Typically, each patient will participate in multiple types of therapy sessions over the weeks or months of treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps patients identify unhelpful thinking and learn how to modify destructive patterns and behaviors. This form of psychotherapy has proven successful in treating a variety of mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, and drug or alcohol use disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy is seen as one of the most effective forms of treatment and is a long-term solution.

In talk therapy sessions, the medical professional will help the patient identify cognitive distortions that are harmful to the individual. Cognitive distortions are biased thought patterns that cause someone to view themselves or the world in an unrealistic or negative way. Types of thinking may include emotional reasoning, blaming, catastrophizing, personalization, or polarized thinking. The therapist will work with the patient to help them uncover the types of cognitive distortions they apply to themselves or their lives. Next, the therapist will guide the patient as they develop alternative ways of viewing that particular thought.

For example, a patient may believe that they don’t deserve happiness, which fuels their addiction and self-destructive behavior. The therapist will help the patient work out why that is untrue in their own words rather than telling them how to feel point-blank. Together, the two will come up with more positive thoughts that the patient can use to disrupt the negative thoughts. The goal is to retrain the brain to default to the helpful patterns of thinking.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a type of counseling used to inspire patients to find the strength and motivation within themselves to get past difficult times in their lives. This type of therapy is generally used to help patients cope with big life changes or take control of health problems like diabetes, heart disease, or addiction. The goal to help people become motivated to make changes in their lives and start a path to a healthier lifestyle.

This kind of therapy is often employed for individuals who are hostile, angry, or hesitant to make changes that will help them solve their problems. It is useful to start with this type of therapy at the beginning of the addiction treatment to help motivate participants to commit to their goals. Motivational interviewing tends to be more successful than traditional interventions because it places the responsibility of identifying problematic behavior on the patient and encourages them to strategize how they can make positive changes to overcome their addiction.

During a motivational interview, the therapist will guide the patient as they uncover the reasons they are ready to change and how this change will positively impact their life. The process is completed in five stages.

Precontemplation – begins with a patient who is not committed to making the changes needed to break their addiction.

  1. Contemplation – The patient realizes that their behavior is destructive but they are hesitant to change it.
  2. Preparation – Occurs when the patient accepts responsibility for their actions and commits to change.
  3. Action – Takes place when the patient is actively trying to change their behavior.
  4. Maintenance – When the patient shows continued commitment to the changes he or she has made in their life.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy helps patients learn how to cope with painful emotions and navigate difficult relationships. This type of talk therapy is primarily focused on psychosocial feelings and relationships. While DBT was developed to treat borderline personality disorder, it has been found to be effective for a variety of mental illnesses, including drug or alcohol use disorder.

DBT treatment usually employs both individual and group sessions. In individual sessions, the therapist will help the patient identify key issues that need to be worked on in daily life. Group sessions allow participants to share their experiences and provide mutual support of their peers. Oftentimes, the therapist leading the group will assign homework that encourages members to practice the main principles of DBT.

There are four modules used for skills training in DBT treatments.

Mindfulness – The practice of being aware, accepting, and present in the moment.

Distress Tolerance – Teaches the patient how to cope with negative emotions in a healthy way.

Emotional Regulation – Teaches strategies to help patients change emotions that are causing pain in a person’s life.

  1. Interpersonal Effectiveness – Covers techniques that help patients communicate with others while maintaining self-respect and mental strength.

The goal of dialectical behavioral therapy is to provide patients with the skills to better manage their emotions and maintain healthy relationships. During one-on-one and group therapy sessions, patients will receive a variety of skills training that will help them cope with negative emotions and learn to better interact with others.

 Is Outpatient Rehab Right for You?

Outpatient rehab is an excellent treatment program for the right candidate, but how do you know if it’s the right fit for you or a loved one? Firstly, the patient should not be an immediate threat to themselves or others. Patients who experience severe withdrawal symptoms would benefit from inpatient rehabilitation before moving on to an outpatient program.

If you are able to fulfill daily obligations, go to work, and engage in your personal life, then outpatient rehab can be the perfect treatment to help you overcome your addiction. Therapy sessions and classes are held at times that allow you to continue on with your normal life, but provide support and structure to guide you through the addiction recovery process. Since participants are able to return to their own homes during the treatment, it’s important that you have a healthy, stable environment that doesn’t trigger addictive tendencies.

Benefits of outpatient therapy include:

  • Flexibility – Schedule classes so that you can still go to work, attend school, or spend time with your family.
  • Affordability – Outpatient treatments are less expensive than traditional inpatient rehab programs.
  • Maintain Normalcy – You will be able to maintain much of your normal routine while attending outpatient rehab.
  • Support – Between individual therapy sessions and group classes, you will receive constant support throughout your recovery.
  • Coping skills – Therapy will teach you coping skills that you will be able to use for the rest of your life.

Patients with mild to moderate addictions or individuals who have already completed an inpatient program are ideal candidates for outpatient rehab. Dedication to change and a willingness to learn are needed to fully reap the benefits of this type of treatment. Don’t wait to start on your journey to a healthier, happier life.

If you have any more questions about outpatient rehab and how it works, please contact us today!