When it comes to discerning what kind of addiction rehabilitation treatment is going to be the most helpful or effective for a given individual, it is important to remember that just as no one’s substance use disorder is identical to someone else’s, there is no one kind of treatment that is going to work exactly the same for everyone. For what is an effective form of addiction treatment for one person might not be helpful, or could even be harmful, for someone else.
This can be attributed to a set of factors that are going to vary significantly from person to person, including their mental and physical health, medical history, home environment, and, of course, the severity of their addiction.
For many, effective recovery treatment means being removed from their normal daily life to a professional treatment facility where they can receive intensive, round-the-clock care and monitoring in an inpatient or long-term residential treatment program. This involves living onsite to devote full focus to their recovery and avoid any triggers or temptations, which can be essential for some, but it certainly is not going to be necessary for everyone.
In fact, if someone is generally in good health, has a solid support system that they know they can fall back on, a healthy and stable home environment, and are in the early stages of a substance use disorder, then outpatient treatment is most likely going to be the more effective and efficient addiction recovery treatment option. When you choose to enter an outpatient addiction recovery program, it means that you will be able to continue on as normal with your daily activities, whether it is work, school, or familial responsibilities while concurrently making regular visits to either a treatment center or outpatient clinic for detox services, counseling, and more.
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The technical definition of an outpatient rehab is a form of addiction rehabilitation treatment that does not require someone to live on the premises of a treatment center. Instead, they remain at home and make consistent appointments at a clinic or other medical facility for detox and medical check-ins as well as therapy sessions several days a week, for varying amounts of time depending on how intense the level of outpatient care is.
On the spectrum of addiction recovery treatment, long-term residential treatment wherein someone lives onsite while undergoing recovery treatment for anywhere from 90 days to a year would be at one end, while the other would be a 12-step program or another type of general counseling or support group unaffiliated with any treatment center program.
Outpatient treatment is situated in between these two ends of the treatment spectrum. In outpatient addiction treatment, someone can expect to receive the same level of care from licensed and experienced medical professionals and clinicians as those in an inpatient program, but after they have finished a session, they can return to their home.
Within the outpatient rehab treatment type there are different subtypes that provide varying levels of care for those seeking recovery treatment, as while not everyone will have a severe enough substance abuse problem that they need inpatient care, someone might have certain needs that necessitate a higher level of treatment than a basic outpatient program can provide, such as a co-occurring disorder.
These different choices in outpatient programs all still allow someone to go home after their treatment session, but they do vary in how often someone would need to check-in per week and for how long. There are three main types of outpatient treatment, which are as follows:
General Outpatient Treatment:
This would the most basic form of an outpatient addiction recovery program. While the shape of a given outpatient program will depend on the specific needs of the individual, it is overall much less rigidly structured compared to other programs within the outpatient subtype. Typically, someone can expect some type of counseling, medical check-ins, and educational workshops for a minimum of at least a couple hours a week.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment:
Usually abbreviated to just IOP, this is a more comprehensive treatment type that involves the more intensive level of care that is associated with an inpatient program. IOP is most useful for people with a history of relapse or a co-occurring disorder who needs extra support but has been deemed by a medical professional as not needing to be monitored around-the-clock. Someone in intensive outpatient treatment can expect to make at least three appointments a week for about two to four-hour-long sessions at a time.
Partial Hospitalization Treatment:
Generally abbreviated to PHP, partial hospitalization treatment is the highest level of care when it comes to an outpatient addiction recovery program. PHP is most useful for people with a major medical concern that might need ongoing observation but does not require a hospital stay providing that they have a supportive and stable home environment. PHP is typically offered at a hospital and usually involves around three to five appointments per week with sessions that can last between four and six hours.
Some people are under the mistaken impression that when they are choosing an addiction rehabilitation treatment program, the only way they can get access to the best quality services and care is to opt for inpatient or long-term residential treatment and that an outpatient program will be able to offer little more than the minimum.
In truth, this may have been the case in the past, but today outpatient rehab has basically the same resources and service options as those offered by inpatient programs, with the important feature of someone being able to put their coping tools and techniques that they acquire during the course of the treatment into practice immediately during their daily routines.
Some services that are typically provided by an outpatient treatment program include:
As we have illustrated, with the various recent advancements in the fields of pharmacology, medicinal technology, and addiction recovery research, in general, outpatient treatment is now able to provide a level of care that is effectively identical to inpatient treatment in terms of quality.
There are even some instances in which outpatient rehab can be an even more efficient and effective addiction treatment option for those who do not have as severe a substance use disorder as those who require inpatient treatment but still may need more support than just counseling or an outside group or program. Some of the numerous benefits of choosing outpatient treatment include:
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Types of Treatment Programs. Retrieved April 19, 2018, from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs
Rapp, R. C., Xu, J., Carr, C. A., Lane, D. T., Wang, J., & Carlson, R. (2006, April). Retrieved April 19, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1986793/
Treatment, C. F. (n.d.). Chapter 4. Services in Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs. Retrieved April 19, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64094/