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How Does an Outpatient Rehab Work? Get the Inside Scoop

Outpatient rehab is a program that lets you get care and support from professionals while living at home and doing your regular things. Inpatient rehab requires you to stay in a center for some time.

The most recent numbers show that over 7.5 million outpatient rehabs were made in the US. My Cousin Jimmy who was addicted to marijuana and it hampered his professional life. He chose outpatient rehab that helped him to balance his professional life and rehabilitation.

How Does an Outpatient Rehab Work 1

Types of Outpatient Rehab

There are three main types of outpatient rehab: the partial hospitalization program (PHP), the intensive outpatient program (IOP), and the general outpatient program (GOP). Each has a different amount of strength, how often it happens, and how long it lasts.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

This is the most intense type of outpatient rehab. You go to sessions for 4 to 6 hours a day, 5 to 7 days a week. PHP provides high-quality medical and mental health care, one-on-one and group therapy, medication control, and ways to avoid relapse. PHP is for people who need close supervision and close tracking but don’t need care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In 2019 SAMHSA & N-MHSS found 1,901 US facilities that provided fewer than 24-hour partial hospitalization therapy. 

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

This is a step down from PHP. You go to classes for 3 to 4 hours a day, 3 to 5 days a week. IOP gives the same services as PHP, but they happen less often and in less depth.

IOP is for people who have finished PHP or inpatient rehab or who have a moderate addiction but can handle their daily duties. According to the N-SSATS, 46% of US substance abuse treatment institutions offer IOP. My cousin JImmy received this program that made his journey easy while recovering from addiction.

General Outpatient Program (GOP)

This is the least intense type of outpatient alcohol rehab. You go to sessions for 1 to 2 hours a day, 1 to 3 days a week. GOP’s primary services are individual and group therapy, teaching, and support. GOP is for people who have finished IOP or PHP or have a weak addiction and need to keep up with their treatment.

How long is outpatient rehab?

One of the most frequent questions is how long outpatient alcohol rehab programs last. The answer relies on several things, such as the type and severity of the addiction, the level of care needed, the availability of support systems, and the person’s goals and preferences.

Each rehab has its pros and cons, here are just a few:

Standard Outpatient Rehab

Depending on the client’s wants and goals, standard outpatient rehab can last from a few weeks to several months.

Intensive Outpatient Rehab (IOP)

From a month to six, IOP can survive based on the client’s condition and needs.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

PHP can last 2-4 weeks, based on how well the client is stabilizing and improving.

Outpatient alcohol rehab is an excellent way to beat addiction while living normally. But the client needs to maintain commitment, duty, and self-discipline. 

What Happens in Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient alcohol rehab programs are a mix of different services and activities designed around your needs and tastes. 

Some common parts of outpatient rehabilitation are:

Some common parts of outpatient rehab illustrated

Individual Therapy

This is a one-on-one session. A qualified therapist helps you deal with trauma, mental health problems, or stress that may be at the root of your addiction. Individual treatment can also help you learn how to deal with problems, determine what sets you off, and avoid relapse.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a meeting with other people in recovery. This is led by a doctor or a person in recovery. Group treatment can help you get support, feedback, and motivation. Here, you get to know about other’s experiences, which enables you to regain confidence.

Medication Management

This service helps you get better by prescribing outpatient alcohol rehab. It keeps an eye on the medicines you take. Medication can ease withdrawal symptoms, reduce urges, treat mental health problems, and prevent overdose.  

I had a talk with one of my neighbours who mentioned that this part was the most effective one during his rehabilitation.Medication management takes regular visits to a doctor to monitor your health.

Life-skills Training

This teaches you valuable skills that help you in your everyday life. Training in life skills can cover things like planning, time management, getting ready for a job, hygiene, nutrition, and more. Training in life skills can help you feel better about yourself, gain confidence, and become more independent.

12-step Programs

12-step programs are peer support groups that follow the rules of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

12-step programs can help you connect with a higher power, work through recovery steps, find a mentor, and attend regular meetings. 12-step programs can help you feel like you belong, hold you accountable, and connect you spiritually.  I also have in my view that it is the best!

Family Therapy

This therapy includes your family or other important people in your recovery. Family therapy can help you and your family get along better, solve problems, heal scars, and rebuild trust. It can also teach your family and friends about addiction and treatment and give them support and tools.

The Importance of Support

Having a sound support system is one of the most essential things to help you do well in outpatient rehab. 

Help can come from different places, such as:

Family And Friends

Family and friends can help you in many ways, including emotionally, practically, and financially. I used to cheer Jimmy on and hold him accountable. That can also help them manage stress, avoid triggers, and enjoy successes.

Support Groups

People who have had similar problems with addiction and rehab and want to help each other make support groups. They can give you a safe and private place to talk. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and SMART Recovery are all examples of support groups.

Online Resources

Online resources are things like websites, apps, podcasts, blogs, forums, and social media sites that can help you on your way to recovery by giving you knowledge, education, guidance, and inspiration. They can also help you find people going through the same thing. SAMHSA’s National Helpline,, Sober Nation, and The Fix are all examples of online tools.

The Challenges of Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab is a flexible and affordable choice for people while maintaining a social life. But private rehab has some problems you need to know about and be ready for. 

Here are a few of the most important:

Staying Motivated

Motivation is the key to success. The more you get motivated, the faster you get healed. While getting treatment with inpatient rehab, you’ll be surrounded by friends and support staff. They’ll help you through your journey. On the other hand, with outpatient treatment, you take the responsibilities into your own hands. Now, you have to become more responsible for your progress.

You might have to deal with distractions, temptations, and stresses in your daily life that could make it harder for you to stay clean. 

Managing Cravings

While you are in outpatient alcohol rehab, how you would handle your behaviors is in your hands. Cravings are as normal as you start to avoid them more. But now you need to settle down, thinking about what mission you are now on. You have to quit drinking. See, others who had left drinking are living better. Take them as inspiration.

Coping With Triggers

Triggers can be internal (like stress, anger, boredom, loneliness, guilt, or sadness) or external (like peer pressure, social events, media exposure, or environmental cues). To deal with triggers, you need to learn healthy ways to deal with things, like how to solve problems and have hobbies.

How to Succeed in Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab is a type of treatment that lets you stay home while attending regular classes at a center. It can be a flexible and inexpensive choice for people.

However, there are some problems with outpatient alcohol rehab as well. You will have to balance getting better with other things you have to do, like work, school, or family. You will also have to deal with the causes and temptations you may face every day. So, if you want to do well in private rehab, having plans is essential.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of outpatient rehab:

Set Goals That You Can Reach

Plan before you join. When you start your rehab days, fix your goals first. Ask yourself what your goal is. “I want to be sober” is a thing, but you need to be more specific and accurate while joining. It could be “stop using drugs at all” and “improve health overall.” 

Be Patient And Don’t Give Up

Rehab isn’t something that you would join and radically change your life you get changed overnight. You need patience and a mentality of “Don’t Give Up.” You will fall and make mistakes, that’s quite normal. Be OK with that. Eventually, you’ll learn from those mistakes and have a more sustainable life.

Participate In Your Care

In Outpatient rehab you must get involved yourself. This kind of rehab needs your full attention and time. You have to participate actively. Your therapist or counselor will guide you through. Try medication, education, group therapy, and aftercare, whatever your mentor suggests.

Build A Strong Network Of Helpers

You may feel alone or confused. Outpatient alcohol rehab programs can sometimes make you feel alone. So, having people who will help you get better and keep you going is very important. You can get help from a counselor, friends, or support groups. 

Know if you can do outpatient rehab by yourself.

How do Residential and Outpatient Rehab Programmes Compare?

Both programs provide various rewards and obstacles depending on the individual’s needs, choices, and circumstances,  

Here are some key distinctions between residential and outpatient recovery programs:

AspectResidential RehabOutpatient Rehab
Intensity of Treatment24/7 structured careLess intense treatment for a set number of hours per week
SettingRequires staying at the facilityLiving at home while attending sessions
CostTends to cost significantly more than outpatientMore affordable for those with insurance coverage
Disruption to LifestyleRequires taking time away from work, family, etc.Allows continuing work and family responsibilities
Recovery SupportConstant access to medical staffLess support between sessions
Access to AmenitiesIncludes food, housing, recreational activitiesDoes not provide these services
Social EnvironmentEnables forming recovery community with peersLess immersive social experience
Aftercare PlanningInvolves transition planning for ongoing recoveryInvolves transition planning for ongoing recovery
Ideal ForRecommended for severe, complex addictionsAppropriate for mild-moderate addictions and dual diagnosis
Residential Vs Outpatient Rehab

People Also Asked

How does unemployment work when you go to outpatient rehab?

Yes, even if you go to outpatient rehab, you can still get unemployment benefits if you meet the requirements and report your pay from the program. However, some states may have different rules or standards, so checking with your local unemployment office before signing up for outpatient alcohol rehab programs is best.

Do you get drug tested in outpatient rehab?

Yes, most outpatient rehabs conduct regular drug tests to monitor your progress and ensure your compliance with the treatment plan. Drug tests can also help you stay sober and inspire you by giving you feedback and support. Depending on the program, you may have to take urine, saliva, blood, or hair tests.

Do outpatient rehabs test for alcohol?

Yes, alcohol is a popular drug of abuse that can get in the way of your recovery, so most outpatient rehabs also test for it. Standard methods for alcohol tests are taking pee tests, blood tests, and breathalyzers. Alcohol can be detected from sweat. Several devices can measure the amount of alcohol in your sweat from your ankle or wrist.

How long is intensive outpatient rehab?

Intensive outpatient rehab usually lasts 8 to 12 weeks. This includes 3 to 4 hour-long classes for 3 to 5 days a week. Some rehabs offer shorter or longer facilities, depending solely on your condition.

Outpatient rehab can help you learn new skills, deal with triggers, and connect with others. You can consult your doctor or mentor about the benefits, risks, and costs. They can also help you choose a suitable program. Take their guidance through the healing process. Know if an alcoholic can be forced to rehab.

Tony McKenzie
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