Do Outpatient Drug Treatment Programs Work?

In 2014, there was a National Survey on Drug Use and Health in America that showed around one in ten adults were abusing illicit drugs. This clearly illustrates how addiction currently affects many people from all areas of society to varying degrees and the reason it is classified as a chronic personal illness requiring specialist treatment. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are more than 14,500 rehab centers treating substance abuse in America today.

There are two main types of drug rehab programs: outpatient and inpatient. Inpatient treatment is when an individual resides at the center and remains on site for the duration of their personalized program. This type of addiction treatment program is ideal for people with significant addiction issues or those who may be living or working in enabling environments. Residential or inpatient treatment also provides around-the-clock supervision by addiction specialists.

Detoxing from highly potent drugs such as heroin or opioid prescription drugs almost always requires full medical supervision. In many cases, individuals with severe addiction will be required to attend inpatient detox so that any serious withdrawal symptoms can be dealt with promptly in order to prevent further complications. Research shows that at some point in everyone’s rehab and recovery process, inpatient care is the best option, even if only for a short period of time.

What Is an Outpatient Drug Treatment Program?

Outpatient programs have much more flexibility than residential care, mainly because individuals are allowed to remain at home. This means people with responsibilities at school, work or within the family are able to continue in their roles while they’re receiving the treatment they need. Outpatient substance abuse treatment programs are generally recommended for people with moderate addiction or those who are likely to remain on an outpatient substance abuse treatment program in a supported environment at home. However, an outpatient drug treatment program is not suitable for people who live, work or socialize in enabling environments as they will remain exposed to triggers for substance abuse.

In many cases where an individual has attended a residential treatment program, extra support is needed to ease the transition from rehab to recovery. This type of outpatient treatment program uses the most effective components of the individual’s treatment program, making them available on a flexible basis for as long as required. It is not uncommon for inpatients to feel anxious about returning home after treatment, particularly as they may feel under the spotlight after their absence. In these situations and circumstances, an outpatient drug treatment program is extremely effective, providing real-time support for any real-life problems individuals may face in recovery.

Services Offered in Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

The services offered in outpatient treatment programs are generally the same as those provided in residential centers, although they vary from program to program. The main difference is that treatments are less intense than in residential rehab and also less frequent, allowing them also to be much more flexible. For this reason, outpatient substance abuse treatment programs are particularly effective in people who don’t need to be monitored or supervised throughout. Outpatients are also afforded more discretion than individuals attending a residential program as they can continue with their daily duties while fitting in treatment around their schedule.

Services offered at drug and alcohol outpatient treatment programs may include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is an evidence-based therapy that allows individuals to identify negative thought processes and behaviors in order to modify the way they think. This provides outpatients with a personalized coping strategy that’s based on their unique situation, giving them more chance of achieving long-term recovery.

Family Therapy: In nearly all cases of addiction, the damage done has a much wider impact than on the individual alone. Close family ties can be broken, seemingly beyond repair, as a result of the negative behaviors an addicted person exhibits. This needs to be addressed in family therapy, which is an important aspect of an outpatient treatment program as it serves to ensure everyone recovers from addiction together, as a family unit.

Holistic Therapies: Many drug and alcohol outpatient treatment programs include holistic or complementary treatments and therapies. Holistic medicine is based on the principle of treating the person as a whole, in terms of mind, body and spirit and important coping mechanisms can be learned from some of the ancient techniques involved. For example, deep-breathing is a mindfulness practice that has been shown to reduce stress levels. This can be used by an outpatient in recovery as a healthier way to respond to stressful situations than substance abuse.

Group Therapy: It is crucial that individuals in recovery feel supported and outpatient services generally include access to most forms of group therapy, such as 12 step or peer support. This allows outpatients to build an effective support network of individuals facing the same challenges so that there’s always someone available to them when needed. Group therapy also allows recovering addicts to help others in a reciprocal way, which reinforces many of the principles of most types of rehab.

Whether an outpatient treatment program is the primary form of addiction treatment or the continuum of care after attending a residential program, research shows it to be highly effective. Individuals are allowed to progress through different levels of drug and alcohol outpatient treatment program, depending on their personal needs for maximum support in their daily lives at home or work. Extensive evaluation and assessment are always carried out at the start of an individual’s treatment journey so that the most appropriate treatments and therapies are made available to them as part of outpatient services.