Treatment Facilities & Programs

Outpatient Treatment Programs- Are These the Option for You?

By Stacy Jackson, Addiction Treatment Specialist

Outpatient rehabilitation is a method of healing therapy in which patients go to hospitals, clinics, or other facilities in order to attend counseling sessions. The patient then leaves, rather than remaining 24/7 in a hospital for the duration of their therapy, as compared to the option of inpatient rehab. There are a variety of outpatient rehab options and many of the facilities choose from a wide variety of approaches to the rehabilitation process. There is no doubt that this form of rehab is less expensive than the majority of the inpatient rehab facilities, because there are no costs for staying a hospital for a long period time and the normal costs that are incurred in a hospital stay, just as medications and other various services the hospital or facility may provide.

With the recent extreme rise in drug addiction, many people who decide to seek help for their drug addict are presented several options. Whether you're seeking drug treatment for something as simple as marijuana use to something as severe and life threatening as crystal meth addiction, there are a variety of drug treatment options now available. Since the high number of people battling addiction rarely seek help, it's important to find the correct option for them once they have finally decided to make this life changing experience.

Some of the conditions that a patient can seek treatment for are:

  • Alcoholism
  • Heroin addiction
  • Crystal meth addiction
  • Vicodin and Oxycontin addiction
  • Sex addiction
  • Gambling addiction
  • Marijuana addiction

Options for drug treatment can vary from simple ongoing care from your regular physician (depending on the severity of the addiction) to inpatient rehabilitation programs that range in duration from two weeks to even six months. However, many people do not have the luxury of attending an inpatient program because they need to continue working or fulfill other responsibilities while receiving treatment. This allows the patient to still be present in their home and available to their families while also to continuing his/her career. It is additionally helpful that some people choose this option because it allows them to remain in their normal environment, thus learning how to avoid common using triggers they will continue to counter in everyday life. Some people even attempt to try a drug treatment program on their own by quitting the drugs cold turkey, talking to family members or friends, attending sobriety programs such as AA, or reading informative material.

One of the most popular options in drug rehabilitation aside from going away to a rehab facility is choosing to take advantage of outpatient rehabilitation programs. This sort of treatment is a variation in rehab therapy that entails the addict traveling to a clinic, facility, or hospital in order to attend informational sessions and to work with a form of therapy catered to drug addiction. Instead of remaining in a hospital or rehab facility for a long amount of time, outpatient rehabilitation can prove to be as successful as other options. Since its structure is basically identical to that of an inpatient program, the same material will still be covered, just in a shorter amount of time. For example, instead of staying for a long time at an inpatient facility and receiving drug treatment for hours, one is only attending therapy around a couple hours a day followed by some reading material. One can still expect the same great care and attention received in other treatment options. Another perk is that outpatient programs are generally much cheaper than attending an inpatient program, since the expenses for hospital stays and other associated expenses are being avoided. Once patients are accepted into an outpatient rehab program, their doctors have usually assessed their condition and determined that the patient is well enough to leave a hospital and is stable enough to attend only an inpatient program. Sometimes outpatient therapy is mixed with inpatient therapy. For example, someone may start an inpatient program and then choose to switch to an outpatient option after successfully completing time as an inpatient.

A number of different outpatient rehabs are available with many different approaches to the treatment process. How many outpatient settings are required specifically depends on the individual's situation. Sometimes a patient will visit a rehab session a few times a day or sometimes just once a day. Other times patients will visit the treatment program as little as one to three times a week as they often utilize a variety of rehabilitation techniques. Typically though, most patients can expect to remain in a program from one to three months. The care is supervised by a staff of doctors, nurses, and therapists. Often the numbers of sessions that are required are adjusted as the patient's progress develops over time. Patients need to consult with their treatment teams to determine what sort of treatment they need and if they are even eligible for outpatient therapy. Occasionally, some treatment care providers will even schedule home sessions or other nontraditional locations off site in order to accommodate the patient and make completion easier. Ideally, outpatient programs are best for patients who have only moderate conditions, since they are less structured and there is not much of a routine in place. Also, sometimes a patient who has completed an inpatient program will seek further treatment and go to an outpatient program to continue treatment.

Outpatient programs use several different methods when it comes to how they treat patients. This sort of care is usually made up of different combined components, including group therapy, 12 step work, spirituality programs, life skills, and relapse prevention techniques. Most of the time, outpatient programs focus on a single treatment method, such as cognitive/behavioral modification, the holistic or religious approach, mental health centered, and medical/therapeutic models. Sometimes a patient will attend an outpatient program and then immediately return home to a "sober living" house, which is a safe environment free of drug or alcohol temptations. No matter what method is used though, all programs have one goal in mind, that providing the patient the tools he/she needs in order to stay sober for the rest of his/her life.

Strong commitment is required when choosing treatment as either outpatient or inpatient. Patients need continuous support from friends and family. Support from employers is an especially important source. Ideally, the employer will be able to make accommodations for the patient to complete treatment while allowing the patient to return to work afterwards. If you've decided that you need help for an addiction and are ready to find out what options are best for you, contact your primary care physician or a treatment center to determine what kind of addiction treatment you can receive. The old adage that today is the first day of the rest of your life is very true, especially when it comes to choosing tomorrow as the first day of your freedom from addiction.

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