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Outpatient Drug Rehab

When considering addiction treatment options, you may want to consider outpatient treatment. Unlike inpatient programs requiring residential stays, outpatient rehab allows patients to return home after each session.

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What Is Outpatient Drug Rehab?

Outpatient drug rehab is an addiction recovery center that doesn’t require overnight residence at a rehab center. Outpatient care is much less restrictive than inpatient programs, which typically require a minimum 30-day residential stay at an inpatient facility.

An outpatient drug rehab center may be the right solution for a person who has:

  • A milder addiction
  • A strong support system
  • Reliable transportation for regular clinic trips
  • Strong motivation to stick with their treatment and attend all sessions
  • Low withdrawal risk

Outpatient treatment may also be recommended for individuals who have completed an inpatient treatment program and are seeking continued addiction recovery support.

Outpatient addiction treatment does offer a few options for various levels of care, including partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatments. Patients who choose an outpatient drug rehab program will often be able to continue to work and attend family functions.

How Does Outpatient Rehab Differ From Inpatient Rehab?

The main difference between inpatient and outpatient services is the level of care provided, but these addiction treatment programs also differ in their structure.

Outpatient Treatment

  • An offsite treatment facility for patients to visit throughout the week
  • Requires roughly 10 – 30 hours per week
  • Medical care may not be provided; many facilities do NOT offer onsite medical detox
  • An ideal solution for a milder addiction and may also be recommended for patients after completing inpatient rehab
  • A variety of individual therapy and mental health support is provided

Inpatient Treatment

  • An on-site, residential treatment facility with a very structured daily schedule
  • Patients check-in and stay for roughly 30 to 90 days
  • Medical care is provided, including detoxification services
  • Often recommended for serious addictions or those with prior substance abuse
  • A variety of individual therapy and mental health support is provided

While outpatient care provides addiction recovery treatment in an offsite facility for the addict to visit during the week, inpatient treatment occurs in a residential or “live-in” setting. Inpatient programs create a daily routine to help patients re-establish healthier habits.

Inpatient drug rehab also provides round-the-clock medical support (if needed), which may be necessary for more severe addiction cases or patients with co-occurring health conditions.

Alternatively, outpatient rehab programs provide addiction treatment services at a much less intense level of care compared to inpatient treatment. Outpatient care is a step down in intensity compared to inpatient treatment providers.

Outpatient rehab facilities still provide continued support, therapy, medical care, and accountability without requiring the patient to live there.

Outpatient drug addiction treatment is a great option for addicts who have a more minor addiction, may not have any previous history of substance abuse, and/or might want something with a lesser time commitment than inpatient rehab.

Additionally, outpatient rehab programs often provide an important stepping stone for recovering addicts once they have completed an inpatient program.

Through many outpatient drug rehab centers, patients can continue to receive important medical care and therapies related to drug addiction recovery as they adjust to life outside an inpatient or residential facility.

Like inpatient drug rehab facilities, there are outpatient rehab centers that are tailored to more specific drug use, such as opioid addiction or even alcohol addiction. Be sure to review the different outpatient facilities in your area and what they offer.

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Common Types of Outpatient Drug Rehab

There are a few treatment options when it comes to outpatient rehab programs.

The main types of outpatient drug treatment centers are: 

  • Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

The specific outpatient treatment program you select will depend on various factors, including your desired level of care, alongside any recommendations from your physician or healthcare provider.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is often the right outpatient treatment facility for someone who recently completed an inpatient rehab program. An IOP provides the shortest time commitment to the common outpatient programs, usually taking about 10-20 hours per week.

An IOP will have a strong focus on mental and behavioral health, with multiple group therapy options. The goal of the IOP is to provide the recovering addict with a support system of peers while helping the patient practice better habits to use in their daily lives.

It should be noted that an IOP will not offer detox services but can often refer you to a nearby facility that provides medical detox.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Another form of outpatient drug addiction treatment is the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). Partial hospitalization programs are sometimes called “day treatment” as they require a lengthier daily commitment than an intensive outpatient program.

In many cases, partial hospitalization programs do offer medical detox services at the start of their program. Like inpatient rehab, PHPs offer medical care alongside behavioral therapy and treatment.

However, unlike residential or inpatient addiction care, a partial hospitalization rehab facility is designed to allow the patient to return home at the end of the day.

Therapy Used During Outpatient Rehab

Improvement of mental health is a key component of any outpatient rehab program.

Behavioral therapy is designed to help the addict confront their negative thought patterns and work to establish new, healthier habits through talk therapy and outside assignments from their counselor.

Below is a general breakdown of the types of therapies commonly offered at outpatient rehab centers.

Cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on discovering the negative thought patterns of the addict. Through one-on-one counseling sessions, CBT aims to provide the recovering addict with better solutions and coping strategies.

Often, a therapist will assign outside work such as reading, journaling, or habit-forming exercises to reinforce positive behaviors that will help the addict remain sober after their outpatient treatment has finished.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a specific type of cognitive-behavioral therapy designed especially for patients who are considered high-risk.

The overall goal of this therapy is focused on the patient learning to accept the circumstances that led them to addiction and then finding more positive ways to work through those conditions. Through this therapy type, the recovering addict may also receive homework.

Group Therapy

Most outpatient rehab programs offer group therapy as a way for recovering addicts to find support in a peer group.

Group therapy helps patients to normalize their recovery by listening to similar experiences of other patients. It also provides a safe, non-judgmental space where people can grow together in their recovery process by providing one another with accountability and support.

12-Step Programs

Named for the 12 steps that each participant must complete, 12-step programs provide a very clear outline of tasks to help the recovering addict process their experience and choose a sober lifestyle.

Twelve-step programs are offered both at rehab facilities and in local community meetings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). That way, a patient who begins a 12-step program in rehab can continue working on their steps when they complete their rehab program.

Matrix Model

The Matrix Model is especially beneficial for addicts recovering from stimulant drug addiction. This type of therapy often includes drug testing alongside a variety of additional therapies (mentioned above), such as group counseling and cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions.

Family Therapy

Another important aspect of recovery can often include repairing relationships with family members.

Outpatient centers that offer family therapy are focused on helping the addict to both make amends with relatives and work through any hurt caused by their addiction, as well as to address any family issues that contributed to the addict’s poor choices.

If you are most interested in a particular type of therapy, check ahead of time to see what types of therapy any particular clinic offers.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) During Outpatient Rehab

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is sometimes included alongside your treatment plan and is available through most outpatient rehab facilities.

The three main goals of medication-assisted treatment are:

  • Manage acute withdrawal symptoms and help the body detox
  • Reduce cravings or urge to use drugs
  • Prevent relapse (i.e., future drug abuse)

The type of medication-assisted therapy that might be recommended for you will depend on the severity and type of addiction you are experiencing.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the most commonly prescribed MAT include:

MAT for alcohol use disorder: 

  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone

MAT for opioid use disorder: 

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Benefits of Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab can be extremely beneficial for the right person. There are several benefits to choosing an outpatient rehab center.

Benefits of outpatient drug rehab include:

  • Less expensive
  • Ability to attend work and other commitments
  • Medical detox provided (in PHP setting) or referral offered for detox center nearby
  • Great for providing a stepping stone after completing inpatient care

While inpatient drug and alcohol rehab provides a rigorous daily structure, outpatient drug rehab gives patients the ability to maintain some of their regular day-to-day lifestyle, such as work or family obligations.

Ultimately, what you choose can depend on your financial ability as well as the time commitment you are able to make. Your doctor or medical professional can help you determine which type of program is best to manage your substance abuse recovery.

Is Outpatient Rehab Right for Me?

So, how do you know if an outpatient drug rehab center is right for you? There are a few factors you might want to consider.

  • Overall lifestyle needs. Everything from time away from work and up-front costs to childcare and family obligations can factor into your decision about the right type of drug rehab treatment for you.
    • Thankfully, outpatient rehab programs require much less time than inpatient programs. Outpatient programs are also relatively less expensive, sometimes more feasible for people—especially those without insurance coverage.
  • Professional advice from your physician or other medical provider. A substance abuse assessment can go a long way in helping you determine the level of care that is going to be ideal for your level of addiction and current circumstances.
    • Whenever possible, speak with a doctor or other healthcare provider about your decision to tackle your addiction and request a substance abuse assessment. This analysis can provide great insight into what will be ideal for you in the days ahead.

Find Outpatient Drug Rehab Programs Nearby

If you think outpatient drug rehab sounds like the right solution for you or a loved one, you can find centers that are near you by checking out the SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or by calling them at 1-800-662-4357 (HELP).

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Frequently Asked Questions About Outpatient Rehab

How long does a patient stay in outpatient rehab?

Outpatient drug rehab is meant to provide a steady solution for those who are combating addiction, so the timeline may vary. There is not really a fixed timeline for outpatient treatment, as it is meant to provide both an immediate solution (for some users) and a long-term maintenance solution for those looking to remain sober and free of drug use.

How much does outpatient drug rehab cost?

Outpatient rehab centers are less expensive than inpatient treatment facilities since they are much less time-consuming than the latter. The price of outpatient rehab can vary based on the facility, the type of outpatient care you opt for, the length of time you spend in outpatient care, and the offerings of the center itself.

Insurance may also provide some financial relief in some cases, so it’s also a good idea to check with your insurance provider to learn what coverage they offer for outpatient addiction rehab.

Does insurance cover outpatient drug rehab?

Different insurance plans offer different types of coverage when it comes to outpatient drug rehab. Your best bet is to check with your individual provider to see what options are available to you on your specific plan.

How do you prevent a relapse after outpatient rehab?

Relapse can be an unfortunate occurrence for many recovering addicts as they work towards a better, healthier life. However, because addiction is a degenerative disease, relapse does NOT mean that treatment has failed.

There are still ways to support relapse prevention, such as:

  • Providing an adequate, strong support system
  • Continued participation in outpatient programs
  • Enrollment in a sober living program or similar arrangement
  • Reliance upon support groups or external programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) for peer support and 12-step program structure
  • Continuing to take any prescribed medication (as directed) designed to combat cravings

Aftercare is a critical piece of recovery, and the family and friends of recovering addicts can lend their support through encouragement, accountability, and overall positive reinforcement.

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. is a founder of Addiction HelpReviewed by:Kent S. Hoffman, D.O.

Chief Medical Officer & Co-Founder

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Kent S. Hoffman, D.O. has been an expert in addiction medicine for more than 15 years. In addition to managing a successful family medical practice, Dr. Hoffman is board certified in addiction medicine by the American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM). Dr. Hoffman has successfully treated hundreds of patients battling addiction. Dr. Hoffman is the Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer of and ensures the website’s medical content and messaging quality.

Jessica Miller is the Content Manager of Addiction HelpWritten by:

Editorial Director

Jessica Miller is the Editorial Director of Addiction Help. Jessica graduated from the University of South Florida (USF) with an English degree and combines her writing expertise and passion for helping others to deliver reliable information to those impacted by addiction. Informed by her personal journey to recovery and support of loved ones in sobriety, Jessica's empathetic and authentic approach resonates deeply with the Addiction Help community.

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