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Outpatient Program

People recovering from drug or alcohol addictions often face a long road to recovery. The aftereffects from drug use combined with the mindset that comes with the addiction lifestyle make it difficult to maintain abstinence for any length of time without the necessary supports in place.

According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, the likelihood of a successful recovery increases the longer a person remains engaged in some form of treatment. Outpatient rehab centers offer a long-term treatment option that’s more flexible than other types of treatment programs.

Truth be told, outpatient rehab centers offer the same types of treatment services as inpatient and residential program without requiring participants to live at the treatment facility for the duration of the program. While this degree of flexibility may work well for certain situations, this same flexibility can leave people with moderate and severe addiction problems at risk of relapse.

Ultimately, any form of treatment considered should meet a person’s individual treatment needs, first and foremost. Otherwise, daily urges and temptations to use drugs can easily get the best of anyone’s recovery efforts.

Stages of Outpatient Rehab

rehab for drugs and alcohol

In outpatient programs patients attend treatment sessions at appointed times and live at home.

Outpatient treatment includes any form of treatment that doesn’t require inpatient care or residential living. In general, the stages of outpatient rehab include –

  • Detox treatment
  • Counseling
  • Aftercare supports

While detox treatment often takes place within an inpatient setting, people with less severe addictions may be able to detox on their own or on an outpatient basis. Likewise, behavioral therapy interventions can take place within most any treatment setting, whereas outpatient rehab centers allow a person to schedule treatment sessions around his or her existing schedule.

Aftercare supports entail specific treatment interventions designed to meet a person’s individual treatment needs. While each of these treatment types makes up a stage of outpatient rehab, the only thing that distinguishes outpatient rehab centers from other programs is the overall freedom participants have in terms of where they live and what they do with their time.

While these stages are not set in stone, no one recovers from an addiction problem overnight and taking shortcuts does not make for a promising recovery outcome. In effect, addiction recovery entails a process made up of stages of growth and healing.

Outpatient Rehab Services

Services provided by outpatient rehab centers can vary depending on the types of addictions treated and the extent of services offered. According to Harvard Health Publications, outpatient rehab services may include –

  • 12 Step support groups
  • Drug education training
  • Drug counseling
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Motivation-based therapies
  • Medication therapies
  • Group therapy

While medication therapies are only needed in cases of moderate addiction, the need for ongoing psychosocial treatment makes all of the other services a necessary part of any one outpatient rehab center’s program.

In terms of mild versus moderate versus severe addictions, the degree of damage caused by drug use determines the severity of the addiction. For example, someone who still has a job and a place to live may only be struggling with a mild addiction, whereas someone who’s homeless and in poor physical/mental health is likely suffering from a severe addiction problem.

Outpatient Rehab Treatment Objectives

The types of interventions used in outpatient rehab centers work to undo the damaging effects of addiction on both a physical and psychological level. While most people consider detox withdrawal symptoms to be the primary physical effects, physical withdrawal is only a part of the overall picture.

Addiction taps into the psychological make-up of the individual, altering a person’s overall mindset to the point where drugs become the primary motivating factor in his or her life. In turn, this type of mindset breeds its own lifestyle through the types of thoughts, emotions and behaviors the addict carries out on a day-to-day basis. This aspect of addiction requires an ongoing engagement in the treatment process.

For these reasons, outpatient treatment program objectives encompass a broad range of interventions designed to help a person develop a healthy mindset and corresponding lifestyle. Outpatient treatment objectives include –

  • Helping addicts develop healthy lifestyle choices
  • Helping a person identify drug-using triggers and cues, such as old drug-using friends and “old haunts” or specific places where drug use took place
  • Identifying events, circumstances and situations where the urge to use drugs is strongest
  • Developing mental strategies for avoiding relapse in difficult situations

Chronic Addiction Considerations

Chronic drug and alcohol addictions leave addicts in a diminished psychological state that oftentimes affects their overall physical health. More oftentimes than not, someone coming off a chronic addiction has developed mental health problems that only work to aggravate his or her desire to use drugs.

According to the Journal of Clinical Investigation, both addiction and mental health disorders stem from chemical imbalances in the brain. For some people, a mental health problem precedes drug abuse, while others may develop a psychological disorder as a result of drug abuse. In effect, the combined effects of addiction and psychological dysfunction require a comprehensive treatment approach where outpatient rehab treatment may or may not play a part.

An overly flexible treatment approach leaves someone dealing with addiction and mental illness highly susceptible to relapse. As medication therapies will likely be required under these circumstances, outpatient rehab treatment should only be considered after a person has successfully navigated the recovery process for a minimum of six months.

When to Consider Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab centers work well under the following conditions –

  • Someone who has work obligations to fulfill
  • Someone who has family responsibilities
  • Someone who’s successfully completed a residential treatment program
  • People who have a healthy support system

Under these circumstances, outpatient rehab centers enable a person to maintain essential parts of his or her everyday life while still receiving needed treatment help. For people coming off chronic or long-term addictions, the structured treatment environment provided by residential programs is much needed before a person attempts to manage daily life on his or her own.

Outpatient rehab treatment should not be considered in cases where an unstable home environment exists, regardless of whether a person has work and/or family obligations to meet. Considering the degree of freedom afforded by outpatient programs, it’s essential to have a healthy, stable support system already in place.

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