What is Outpatient Rehab for Drug and Alcohol Abuse?

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Outpatient treatments offer wide-ranging benefits to individuals seeking help against an alcohol and drug addiction. But with facilities offering both inpatient and outpatient rehab, how does one know which one is best for them? Whether you are recovering from an alcohol or drug addiction, join Avenues Recovery, leaders in addiction rehabilitation, as we explain what outpatient rehab is and help determine if it’s the right choice for you.

What is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab is addiction rehabilitation that takes place in a rehab center, hospital or mental-health clinic without the addict staying at a facility for the entirety of their recovery. People addicted to stronger substances such as Oxycodone or Heroin typically choose inpatient residential programs to control withdrawal and manage detoxification. However, if you are in the early phase of the addiction and consume mild substances, an outpatient rehab program can successfully treat you.

Outpatient rehab is the best option when a patient decides to undergo a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program without living in isolation in a healthcare department. While attending an outpatient program, the patient can live at home or in another safe environment and can live the rest of their life normally. The patient does have to visit their mental health clinic or rehabilitation center for support, checking in and treatment follow up on a specific day of the week.

Since the patient isn’t bound to live in the rehabilitation center, they can balance their professional, personal, and family obligations and responsibilities without disrupting their treatment process. Professionals conducting the rehab program will help you choose the right time and duration for the session you need.

When the patient visits the treatment center for an outpatient rehab program, healthcare professionals will diagnose the intensity level of the addiction. Depending on the patient’s condition, doctors will plan the outpatient treatment settings and process.

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An Overview of Common Rehab Options:

Inpatient rehab - A patient stays in the facility for the duration of their addiction rehabilitation

Outpatient rehab - A patient goes into a rehab center, clinic, or hospital for rehabilitation appointments, but does not stay at the facility.

Residential rehab - Rehabilitation services are brought to you in a residential setting of your choice 

What Does Outpatient Rehab Consist Of?

So how does outpatient rehab work? After choosing the outpatient program, patients attend weekly or daily sessions. The healthcare professionals at the rehab center will decide the duration and number of sessions depending on the patient’s addiction level and needs. The sessions might take place at a counselor’s office, hospital, or mental health clinic.

There are two types of outpatient programs that include partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient. On your first visit to the rehabilitation center, the addiction specialist will evaluate your condition and help you choose a program from these two options. Besides flexibility and freedom, an outpatient program also offers:

  • Access to support groups
  • Addiction counseling
  • Relapse prevention training
  • Addiction education courses

Furthermore by participating in the outpatient program, patients develop invaluable skills that they may have lost by consuming the harmful substance. Outpatient rehab therefore provides life-long benefits to patients so they can improve their life and future. Some skills that outpatient rehab helps patients with include:

  • Social skills
  • Employment skills
  • Financial management skills
  • Time management skills
  • Anger and stress management skills

It’s worth keeping in mind that not every feature or service mentioned above is necessarily available at all rehabilitation centers. Regardless, outpatient rehab is effective for many patients and encourages them to live a happy and healthy life. After completing a rehabilitation program, people feel strong and motivated to quit harmful substances and work towards achieving their life goals.

How Do Residential and Outpatient Rehab Programs Compare?

Many patients opt for an outpatient rehab program for the convenience and flexibility it offers. Outpatient rehab isn’t as expensive as full residential rehab, so patients with an average income prefer to choose this treatment method to recover from substance abuse. However, outpatient rehab programs don’t work for everyone. If a patient has a severe alcohol and drug addiction, an inpatient or residential rehab program will be recommended for them. Usually, a healthcare professional examines the patient’s condition and chooses an effective rehabilitation program after individual assessment.

Primary Benefits of Outpatient Rehab Include:

  • Convenience and flexibility to the patient
  • Lower costs
  • The ability to continue with life as usual alongside recovery

While these benefits are ideal for some addicts, professionals will sometimes recommend residential rehab instead. This is more comprehensive than outpatient - residential rehab involves a caretaker living in the patient’s house helping them deal with the addiction. Some benefits of residential rehab programs include:

  • 24/7 Care
  • Effective for severe addictions
  • Private and personal

How Much Does Outpatient Rehab Cost?

Outpatient programs are less expensive than other rehab programs, such as inpatient rehab. Furthermore therapy costs will vary depending on the intensity level, ranging from mild to moderate. On average, a three month program might cost $5,000. Many outpatient programs can reach as high as $10,000. The rehab cost depends on the number of visits, duration of the sessions, and cost of the medication.

Patients may be able to have their rehabilitation expenses covered by their insurance companies. Patients should check with their healthcare insurance company to ensure that the insurance company covers drug addiction.. Many insurance companies partially cover the expense, so it’s best to confirm with the company before registration.

Some types of insurance include addiction care, for example: 

  • Private insurance
  • Medicare or Medicaid [1]
  • State-financed health insurance
  • Military insurance [2]


Low-income patients can also ask the healthcare facility for financing options other than insurance. Financing options are helpful but often offer limited funds and long waiting lists.

How Long Is Outpatient Rehab?

In an outpatient rehab program, the patient has the freedom to decide how long they want to continue the treatment. Patients who don’t show up to their sessions regularly will require more time to complete the program. 

Many patients who spend more than a year in alcohol and drug outpatient recovery programs join support groups.

  • Support sessions boost patients’ self-esteem and encourage them to feel happy about their fulfillment and achievement.
  • A new patient can see multiple examples of successful recovering addicts. This can encourage a patient’s belief in their own road to successful recovery.
  • A more established group member sets an example to other members, boosting their confidence in their own success and increasing their need to maintain their sobriety.
  • Membership in any recovery group is also an opportunity to make new and sober friends, with whom to share a positive sober lifestyle in recovery.

Does Outpatient Rehab Work?

Drug addiction treatment success is difficult to measure. Less than 50% of people who begin any addiction treatment complete their program, and a significant number relapse afterward as well.

Outpatient rehab carries a greater risk of the patient failing the course of treatment than they might in inpatient treatment, for various reasons. For instance, when patients are free to go anywhere they want while in addiction treatment, there is a risk that they become tempted again by drugs. Since they can easily meet people and visit places with drugs or triggers, there is always a possibility of relapse. This can result in leaving the program literally overnight.This is a real risk, but it is a problem that can be solved. For example, many patients take drug tests once in a while to keep themselves accountable. Drug test results are confidential and the testing center will share the result with the patient only (except when a court or judge mandates the testing center to share the results).  

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Knowing What Outpatient Treatment Is, Will it Work for You?

If you have a less severe intensity addiction or an addiction to a milder substance, then an outpatient rehab is the easiest, and perhaps your best opportunity to get sober. Avenues Recovery offer outpatient rehabs around the USA, and have helped many reach addiction-free lives. Contact our professional staff today to learn more about what an outpatient program entails. Start your journey towards recovery and freedom today!

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[1] medicare.gov

[2] www.usaa.co

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