Outpatient Drug Rehab: When Is It the Best Option?


Alcohol outpatient treatment programs offer individuals flexibility as they overcome substance abuse issues although it is not for everyone. For many people, being removed from their familiar environment and into the sober sanctity of a rehab center is the best option although some individuals don’t respond to this approach as well. Every individual seeking treatment for addiction has their own unique set of needs and what works for one, may fail with another.


In this article, we focus on outpatient rehab programs which are extremely effective for certain individuals in helping them find their way to sobriety. Although it may seem to be more effective for a person to stay under the supervision of addiction professionals on an inpatient program, this is not always the case. Many people complete alcohol outpatient treatment programs and go on to enjoy a long-term recovery. Here we take a look at the kind of individuals who are most likely to benefit from outpatient rehab.

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Outpatient Drug Rehab


Residential and outpatient treatment programs generally have similar components and most people in recovery are likely to be engaged in an outpatient program at some point in their journey. Many patients leaving residential rehab will be offered an aftercare program that is delivered on an outpatient basis. One of the principle reasons outpatient services are so effective is that they allow individuals to get real-time advice in response to real-life triggers for substance abuse.


When Outpatient Treatment Is Not Preferable

In many respects, it is easier to describe the people who are not likely to benefit from an outpatient program. According to the American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM), substance abuse treatment that most effectively addresses the needs of the individual is the best route to take.  Generally speaking, the following situations suggest an individual is not suited to outpatient rehab:

  • They require supervision throughout detox due to the risk of severe withdrawal
  • Clients come from toxic or enabling home environments
  • Several unsuccessful attempts have been made to achieve sobriety
  • The client has a co-existing physical or mental health condition (dual diagnosis)

However, those people who are good candidates for outpatient can get the following benefits

  • They are able to continue with work, school or home responsibilities while on an outpatient treatment program
  • Outpatients are able to apply what they’ve learned to real-life situations
  • Clients have more freedom and flexibility on an outpatient alcohol treatment program
  • Outpatient programs afford clients more privacy so that they can receive substance abuse treatment discretely and without drawing attention to their issues
  • The same components that are available in residential rehab are also offered by outpatient programs
  • Many outpatient treatment programs offer a wider range of complementary or holistic therapies
  • Interventions that are not available in residential rehab are often provided by outpatient programs

What’s Involved in Outpatient Treatment Services?

Outpatient substance abuse treatment programs are very comprehensive despite the fact individuals have more flexibility. The kinds of services offered to outpatients include the following:


Medically assisted treatments and pharmacotherapies: The majority of medically-assisted treatments for substance abuse provided in residential rehab are also available on an outpatient basis.

All types of psychosocial interventions: There are no types of therapy that can only be delivered to people in residential rehab centers and they are all easily accessible to outpatients. The kind of therapies received depends on the specific needs of the individual.

Support services: Outpatients have plenty of support made available to them that provides them with extra confidence to carry out their daily responsibilities while receiving treatment. There is a wide range of support groups available to cater for people from all cultural and spiritual backgrounds.

All associated benefits of recovery: Outpatients are able to gain additional benefits while receiving care such as strengthening social connections, getting support from peers and therapists and also finding their own motivations for continuing in sobriety.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment as Aftercare


Many people who have attended residential rehab require continuing support as they transition from treatment to recovery. This is generally delivered in an aftercare program which is available to recovering addicts on an outpatient basis. Aftercare programs do not have a finite duration due to the fact that addiction is a relapsing illness making it possible for people to return to substance abuse even years after completing rehab.

Outpatient programs are invaluable in acting as a “crutch” to help individuals maintain sobriety, with both therapeutic support and counseling available to them as and when they need it. This proactive and flexible approach to addiction treatment allows recovering addicts to adjust to a substance-free lifestyle at their own pace. When people are completely supported by therapists and peers, they are much more likely to achieve a longer-term recovery from substance use disorder.

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