Outpatient Programs

People who need addiction treatment will find they have different options available to them. One of them is the outpatient program (OP). This kind of program offers addiction treatment that doesn’t require an overnight stay at the center of a medical facility.

Recovering substance users who need addiction treatment but cannot commit to a longer stay in a residential facility may find a good fit in the outpatient program. A residential or inpatient arrangement typically requires clients to stay on site for at least a month or longer. The extended stay allows them to take more time to address the issues at the root of a person’s addictions and gain the skills and tools that allow them to face them in healthy ways.

An outpatient program allows clients to live off-site while attending a rehab program. This way, they can still take care of their responsibilities, such as school and work, while going to a rehab facility, clinic, or hospital for treatment.

Who Are Outpatient Programs For?

An outpatient program, while adaptable to one’s needs, will not be for everyone. Some people will require a higher level of care that is the right one for their situation. For example, a person who is recovering from an addiction to opioid pain relievers such as oxycodone or Vicodin or an addiction to heroin, an illegal opiate drug, most likely would start care in a residential program where they would live in a 24-hour monitored setting that allows them to focus on learning how to overcome their addiction and receiving care from clinical and medical professionals along the way.

Outpatient programs generally are for people who:

  • Have substance use disorders that are in the early stages
  • Have had mild or less-severe addictions
  • Do not need detoxification from drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances
  • Want to continue aftercare services and support upon exiting from residential/ inpatient treatment
  • Cannot pay for inpatient treatment or residential treatment
  • Can stay on a schedule and remain committed to sobriety while in recovery
  • Benefit from a structured program and can access a network of supportive family and friends

Recovery from substance abuse and addiction does not end when one leaves treatment. In fact, it’s just beginning, and people who have decided to put addiction behind them must realistically face the probability that efforts to stay sober can last a person’s lifetime. People who have had extensive inpatient treatment can start an outpatient program to ensure their path to recovery is uninterrupted.

How Do Outpatient Programs Work?

Outpatient programs address the specific needs of the client, which, of course, vary by the person. The length of the programs, as well as the level of the intensity of the therapies, offered all vary as they depend on the person. This kind of program allows clients to schedule their treatment during the daytime or evening hours. The sessions take place in a therapeutic setting that allows them to focus on the therapies they need and receive the tools and strategies they need to address their addiction or substance use disorder. Outpatient clients must still check into treatment at their scheduled time to receive counseling and any medications that have been prescribed to them.

Outpatient programs can include any of the following addiction therapies:

  • Substance abuse education
  • Cravings and triggers management
  • Life skills
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Mental health treatment
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • 12-step programs
  • Transitional living facility referrals (including sober living homes)
  • Relapse prevention training
  • Anger management
  • Random drug testing
  • Spirituality

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Outpatient programs can fall into three categories. They are:

Day Treatment Programs

Day treatment programs offered for people in recovery allow them to receive intensive rehabilitation treatment in a structured but non-clinical setting during the day before they return home in the evening. These sessions can run on a Monday through Friday schedule and be customized to meet the needs of the client. Programs of this kind focus on helping clients achieve independence in completing everyday tasks and participating in activities of leisure. This will be particularly helpful when clients return to everyday life on their own. Day treatment programs can include educational groups, counseling for individuals and families, recreational activities that promote team building, 12-step education, and relapse prevention planning.

Intensive Outpatient Programs

Clients who enter intensive outpatient programs (IOP) clients may attend five three-hour intensive therapy sessions a week. This can go on for anywhere from a month to three months. Once they reach preset milestones, the weekly session requirements may be reduced. Intensive outpatient programs are regarded as just as effective as inpatient treatment for people with substance use disorders.



IOPs are ideal for people in recovery who:

  • Have finished higher levels of care (detoxification, residential treatment, partial hospitalization)
  • Have recently relapsed and need more time to recover from the experience
  • Seek help with transitioning to full-time sober living
  • May have co-occurring disorders (dual diagnosis) along with substance abuse disorder
  • Require continued support of therapists, mental health professionals, peers, supportive friends, and family while receiving IOP services.
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Intensive outpatient treatment focuses on relapse prevention. It is recommended that clients receive counseling between three to five times per week, but sessions can be scheduled according to your needs. Clients can choose to go to counseling or therapy between eight hours a day and three to four hours a week. The time you spend in addiction treatment depends on the type of program you are in and how severe your addiction is.

Whether it is an outpatient program or an intensive outpatient program, these kinds of therapies work only if the person can remain abstinent and successfully navigate living on their own while doing so. If not, inpatient or residential rehab that starts with a drug or alcohol detox is likely a better arrangement.

Continuing Care

Continuing care, also known as aftercare, is what happens after one leaves inpatient or residential treatment. This is the point in recovery where clients will have to seek out resources that can help them stay focused on their recovery goals. There are different options out there that can be adjusted to their comfort level. Some people join continuing care groups that follow the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or others. Some people may want a self-guided program such as SMART Recovery, which aims to help people recover from addictive behaviors involving drugs, alcohol, and addicting activities, such as gambling.

Is an Outpatient Program for You?

Outpatient programs require a great deal of commitment and discipline from the client. Before considering this kind of treatment, take an honest assessment of your needs to see if an outpatient arrangement is something you should consider. Think about if you will be able to maintain your independence and attend sessions that can last anywhere from six to nine hours a week or 20-plus hours a week. Programs that are low-to-moderate in intensity may require treatment sessions that run once or twice a week.

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Outpatient treatment does not offer 24-hour care like inpatient and residential programs, so clients will have to manage their own distractions as they work toward healing from addiction. Outpatient participants also are completely responsible for keeping their environment free of addictive substances, such as drugs, alcohol, and harming influences that can jeopardize their recovery plans. They also must remain aware of potential temptations and triggers that can bring relapse. While outpatient treatment can take place at a center, hospital, or another kind of facility, it’s probably best to find one that is close to where one works and lives. Living and/or working close by will make going to scheduled treatment sessions easier.

As you consider outpatient treatment, ask yourself these questions to get an idea of whether this is the right setting for you.

  • Have I completed the detoxification process? Have I attained the stability to start my treatment?
  • Am I able to manage everyday chores, take my prescribed medications on my own, and take care of responsibilities on my own?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then outpatient rehab may be OK for you.

You can also ask:

  • Did I previously enter outpatient treatment? Did I relapse after completing it? Did I feel like it was an effective setting for my situation?
  • Do I need a restrictive setting with more structure, an intense focus on recovery, and few distractions?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then an inpatient or residential rehab setting, such as the one offered at Arete Recovery, could be a better fit for your needs.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease that is treatable but not curable in many cases. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that at least 90 days, or three months of treatment, is ideal for people seeking recovery from substance abuse. However, each person’s recovery rate depends on several individual factors. As NIDA explains, “Individuals progress through drug addiction treatment at various rates, so there is no predetermined length of treatment. However, research has shown unequivocally that good outcomes are contingent on adequate treatment length.”

Your Recovery From Addiction Can Start Now

Arete Recovery, based in Pembroke Pines, Florida, is a Delphi Behavioral Health Group facility. Our clients experience the Delphi Difference when they walk through our doors. As with other Delphi facilities, we inspire wellness and growth in our clients with personal treatment plans that address their specific needs and keep our client-to-clinician ratio low so you get the individualized treatment you need and deserve. We make a long-term commitment to your recovery and offer you aftercare services to ensure you have what you need as you leave our facility and start life again post-treatment. If you need addiction treatment, get it now. Don’t delay.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance addiction or mental illness, Arete Recovery is just one phone call away. Call us at (855) 781-9939 or reach out to us online today so we can help you find the right treatment program for you or someone you know. We also can walk you through the process to help determine if you need outpatient treatment or another recovery arrangement that better fits your needs.