When people think of rehabilitation programs for drug or alcohol addiction, the first image that probably comes to their mind is an inpatient rehab. Since inpatient rehab is talked about and portrayed in the media quite often, some may think it’s the only type of treatment available. But there’s a viable alternative to treating substance use disorder in outpatient rehabilitation.
While inpatient rehab requires that you check into a facility for full-time treatment—just like confinement in a hospital—outpatient rehab is the opposite. Those who undertake an outpatient arrangement can live outside of their treatment facility and visit only when needed. It allows them to receive adequate medical care for their addiction while still balancing the responsibilities of work, school, or home life.
Here’s everything you need to know about outpatient rehabilitation, courtesy of Better Addiction Care.
What Makes Outpatient Rehab Different from Inpatient Rehab?
There are several major differences that set outpatient rehab apart from inpatient rehab. The most noteworthy differences are the following:
- Outpatient rehab follows a live-out arrangement, while inpatient rehab requires that you stay at the accredited facility 24/7 until the program is over. Thus, outpatient participants have the option to live at home or near the facility, instead of inside, for the duration of their program.
- Inpatient rehab typically requires a strict routine for diet, sleeping time, exercise, and visiting hours. Though structure is also important to outpatient rehab, participants have a lot more freedom over these.
- Between the two options, inpatient treatment offers the more exhaustive level of medical care because it’s round-the-clock. Outpatient medical services are available when the participant visits the facility, just like with a regular clinic.
- Inpatient rehab programs are usually shorter than their outpatient counterparts because they’re done on a full-time basis. While the former can go on from between 28 days and 6 months, the latter can last from 3 months to over a year. Outpatient programs are usually spread out in sets of mandatory hours per week.
Inpatient Care vs. Outpatient Care: Which Is Better?
Some cases of substance use disorder need the exhaustive treatment that inpatient care can give. But others can be remedied with outpatient care. The latter proves a great option in the following cases:
- If the severity of the person’s addiction to drugs or alcohol is mild or just in the early stages. They may not need to receive rigorous medical care 24/7. The earlier that the patient and their family can respond to the warning signs of addiction, the less intensive the treatment will be.
- If it’s the best fit budget-wise for the person and their families, as inpatient programs tend to be rather costly. A number of participants choose outpatient arrangements because they’re both effective and affordable.
- If the person is both fit and willing to carry out everyday responsibilities—such as parenting, working, or studying—alongside their treatment. The additional freedom of movement, mobility, and exposure to their day-to-day may contribute a great deal to their healing process.
For some people struggling with addiction, a lot of intervention is needed to get them back on the right track. But some benefit more from having few disruptions to their everyday lives. In this sense, outpatient care is the ideal option for those who are capable of managing their addiction as well as their other responsibilities.
Those who pursue outpatient care don’t have to worry about it being inferior to inpatient care. Just because the treatment plan is done on an outpatient basis doesn’t mean that it will be any less responsive to the addiction case. Just like for any other serious illness, one type of treatment for addiction may be better suited to the patient than the other.
What Are the Types of Outpatient Care?
Accredited rehab facilities in the United States offer these types of outpatient programs. You can choose from among the following for yourself or for a loved one who needs treatment.
Standard Outpatient Programs
A standard outpatient program requires the participant’s attendance for about an hour or two each day. One hour per week is dedicated to a session of individual therapy.
Intensive Outpatient Programs
Intensive outpatient programs are similar to standard outpatient programs, but require more hours of engagement per week. The participant may have to spend about three hours per day at the center and undergo at least one hour of individual therapy per week.
Partial Hospitalization Plans
The most intensive among the types of outpatient care is the partial hospitalization plan. This requires the participant to spend between six and eight hours a day at the center. They will also have to attend at least one hour of individual therapy a week.
What Can You Expect from an Outpatient Program?
If you’re nervous about enrolling yourself or your loved one into an outpatient program, it will help for you to know what to expect. Here’s what you can ready yourself for when treatment begins in earnest.
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A Customized Treatment Plan
A lot of preparation goes into making treatment plans for outpatients. Medical professionals, therapists, counselors, and other outpatient providers all work together to do so. Things that they will take into careful consideration include the following:
- The patient’s medical history
- The substance involved
- Any outstanding mental health issues
- Any prior history of treatment for addiction
- Record of any legal problems
- Eligibility for insurance plan
- Personal responsibilities the patient will undertake while in an outpatient rehab program, such as office work or schoolwork
It’s important that the patient is honest about their circumstances. That factors into how responsive the treatment plan will end up being for them.
Medically Supervised Withdrawal Management
Outpatients can also receive medical care when they go to the rehab center, including for management of their withdrawal symptoms. This is the process that’s commonly referred to as detoxification or detox, in which the patient’s body adjusts to the absence of drugs or alcohol. During both inpatient and outpatient rehab, detox is conducted under medical supervision. The rehab center’s doctors monitor the patient’s vital signs and may prescribe medication to alleviate discomfort during withdrawal.
Participation in Various Therapy and Counseling Activities
During their time in the rehab center, outpatients will participate in various therapy and counseling activities that will contribute to their recovery. These can include the following:
- Individual psychiatric care
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Motivational enhancement therapy
- One-on-one counseling
- Group counseling
- Couples therapy
- Family therapy
- Education on the effects of drug and alcohol addiction
Referrals to Other Outpatient Providers
The rehab center’s case managers may also recommend for the outpatient to go to outside providers for other services. These can include the services of private doctors, therapists, wellness coaches, or government assistance programs. They may also refer the outpatients to the local chapters of 12-step self-help groups Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. In addition to these, they may also link the patients to partner organizations, clubs, or faith-based organizations.
Rehab centers have large networks of people who can contribute to individual patients’ healing from addiction. Those employed at the center will be happy to share those resources with outpatients enrolled in their program. The assistance of other providers ensures that patients avoid relapsing and that they get the support they need, even after their rehab program ends.
The Road to Full Recovery: Tips on Maximizing the Effects of Outpatient Care
Your experience of outpatient rehab may be difficult at first. After all, addiction is a complex illness that can’t be treated overnight. Throughout your enrollment in an outpatient program, you may have your doubts about whether it will work. But part of the challenge is figuring out how to make your treatment plan work for you. Here are some tips that should help.
Stick to a Routine and Take Care of Yourself
Both inpatient and outpatient care aim to foster better self-discipline and control over the addiction. In some respects, this may be harder to achieve in an outpatient program because there’s less supervision and enforcement of routine.
All the same, if you’re enrolled in an outpatient rehab program, take the steps to cultivate this for yourself. Be sure to follow the instructions you receive from your healthcare providers, therapists, counselors, and others involved in your program—even when they aren’t around. Watch your diet and your sleep, and be aware of any triggers for drug or alcohol use in your surroundings. If you pay attention to these while you’re outside of the center, you’ll make great progress in your recovery from addiction.
Learn fromYour Peers and Support Them
Outpatient rehab will give you the chance to heal from substance use disorder in the company of others who share your struggle. Being part of a group will remind you that you’re not alone in what you’re dealing with and that there are people who support you.
Pay it forward by learning from your peers and supporting them in their own recovery goals. Working towards the wellbeing of an entire group, and not just your own, can help you become very focused and accountable to your healing and that of others’.
Carry the Lessons of Your Outpatient Program with You Permanently
To get the best out of your outpatient rehab experience, you should adapt the lessons you’ve learned from the program to your everyday life. Taking care of your body, managing your cravings, and putting balance back into your relationships are principles you should follow even outside of rehab.
Let your outpatient treatment program be a stepping stone into a better life—and one that’s free from the influence of drugs or alcohol. The responsibility, self-awareness, and discipline you’ll learn in rehab will leave a positive impact not only on you, but on your family and your community as well.
You can learn more about the best treatment options for substance use disorders at Better Addiction Care. Find the resources that you need to make informed decisions about addiction care, and start your journey towards healing now.
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