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Outpatient drug rehab is a common term used for describing an addiction treatment program where patients regularly attend a professional drug and alcohol rehab facility for scheduled appointments in the treatment of their substance use disorders (SUDs).

SpringBoard Recovery is a professional drug and alcohol rehab center located in Scottsdale, Arizona (near Phoenix), and we offer an accredited intensive outpatient drug treatment program, helping our clients successfully recover from a range of drug and alcohol addictions.

We have earned many years of full accreditation from the Joint Commission, who expect the highest national standards for addiction treatment, and we are committed to continually improving patient care.

We accept most major health insurance coverage, and clients travel from all over the U.S. to receive their personalized treatment with us, with many staying in our on-site, substance-free Sober Living accommodation.

Learn more about the exceptional benefits of our successful outpatient addiction recovery program and our high-quality Sober Living accommodation here.

What is Outpatient Drug Rehab?

Outpatient drug rehab is a common term used for describing a substance addiction treatment program where clients receive their treatment on a part-time basis at a professional drug and alcohol rehab facility.

Importantly, this allows clients the freedom to continue with the important commitments of their lives – commitments that previously may have stopped them attending treatment in the first place.

These important commitments are typically:

  • Caring for children or family
  • Continuing to work
  • Continuing to study, or 
  • Other reasons where being away from home is difficult or problematic

Unlike an inpatient drug rehab (or residential drug rehab), where patients stay in the drug and alcohol rehab facility 24/7 to receive their treatment, outpatient programs provide their treatment through a regular schedule of addiction therapy appointments.

At these scheduled appointments, clients receive a range of specialized, evidence-based therapies to help in the successful recovery from their substance use disorder (SUD).

Outpatient Drug Rehab Therapies

Outpatient drug rehab therapies should include, as a minimum:

  • One-on-one Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Case Management

Note: All of the above counseling, therapies and other treatment sessions are included in SpringBoard Recovery’s outpatient drug rehab programs, and described in detail later in this article.

Additionally, many professional outpatient drug rehabs, including SpringBoard Recovery, use a fully holistic approach to addiction treatment. A holistic approach involves treating the body, mind and spirit, which involves additional therapeutic activities, such as:

  • Nutritional Counseling
  • Equine Therapy
  • Yoga
  • Meditation & Mindfulness
  • Cross-Fit
  • Music Therapy
  • Horticultural Therapy

How Long Does Outpatient Drug Rehab Last?

The duration of outpatient drug rehab programs vary depending on the substance involved, the severity of the addiction, whether the program is intensive or not, and, obviously, the progress of the individual themselves during the program.

As with the actual scheduling of individual therapy appointments, outpatient drug rehab programs are reasonably flexible in terms of the length of the program, too.

In fact, the better outpatient programs will monitor and continually assess the effectiveness of treatment on a case-by-case basis.

They are then able to adjust the program accordingly, if necessary.

Normal program length for intensive outpatient drug rehab, such as that provided by SpringBoard Recovery, is around 12-15 hours of treatment a week for about 3 months, and this can be extended as needed.

Normal program length for standard outpatient drug rehab is around 3 appointments per week, and, again, for about 3 months.

The NIDA Definition: Outpatient Drug Rehab

Outpatient drug rehab is formally described by the U.S. National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) as “outpatient behavioral treatment” and described as “a variety of programs for patients who visit a behavioral health counselor on a regular schedule. Treatment is sometimes intensive at first, where patients attend multiple outpatient sessions each week.”

Statistical data derived from the U.S. National Survey of Drug Use & Health 2019 (September, 2020)

Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehab

There are several differences between inpatient (or residential) and outpatient drug rehab programs which can influence an individual’s personal choice.

However, for people looking to successfully recover from their substance addiction, it is important to follow the expert clinical advice provided by their primary care physician or family doctor, or a professional addiction treatment specialist.

These professionals will normally be the ones to initially diagnose the type of substance use disorder (SUD) someone is suffering from, and they are best placed to advise people of the most appropriate treatment needed.

For those suffering from a severe drug or alcohol addiction, an inpatient drug rehab program is normally the clinical recommendation, as such a program is able to offer medical and therapeutic support on a 24/7 basis.

This can be vital in the addiction treatment of those most likely to relapse in the early stages of recovery. By staying in a safe and secure drug-free environment, the likelihood of this happening can be reduced to zero.

Outpatient drug rehab programs are suitable for those who transition from an inpatient program or those whose substance use disorder is classified as moderate (not severe).

Additionally, as stated previously, this type of drug rehab program allows a person to continue to live at home (as long as their homelife is supportive of their recovery), and their life can continue as usual, outside of their treatment.

Both types of treatment program – inpatient vs. outpatient – have unique advantages and benefits (detailed below), depending on an individual’s circumstances.

Regardless, both have the professional potential and successful outcomes to help people recover from their drug or alcohol addiction.

The Main Differences Between Inpatient & Outpatient Drug Rehab

Inpatient Program (IP) Advantages Outpatient Program (OP) Advantages
  • High level of care for long-term / severe substance use disorders
  • Medical care provided 24/7 
  • Highly structured every day
  • 3 levels of programs available, differentiated by level of intensity: 
    • Part Hospitalization Program PHP
    • Intensive Outpatient Program IOP, and
    • Outpatient Program OP
  • On-site detox / referrals
  • Continue to live at home
  • Dual diagnosis treatment for those with mental health disorders
  • Flexible appointments (including evenings and weekends)
  • Daily evidence-based therapy
  • Continue to work or study
  • Safe and secure environment:
    • Substance-free
    • Peer-based community
  • Significantly lower cost than IP (many healthcare insurance plans cover the cost of an OP in full)
  • Highest rates of successful recovery
  • For adolescents, family is close by

Note: Some IOP drug rehabs also provide dual diagnosis treatment.

IMPORTANT: Outpatient drug rehab is not suitable for those who:

  • Constantly have the urge to use, as treatment centers are not 24/7
  • Require medical attention or suffer with multiple disorders
  • Have proven to be very unreliable when it comes to attending appointments

Who Should Choose Outpatient Drug Rehab?

Outpatient drug rehab programs are most suitable for those who have:

  • Mild to moderate addictions
  • Strong support system from family and friends
  • Transportation to attend counseling sessions regularly
  • Motivation to attend sessions regularly and stick to the treatment
  • Low risk of withdrawal with medical complications
  • Personal circumstances that prevent full-time addiction treatment

Outpatient Drug Rehab: Types of Available Programs

There are many different options for substance addiction treatment that all fall under the heading of “Outpatient Drug Rehab.”

This method of recovery from substance addiction is highly flexible, and can meet the needs of many different types of patients, addictions, and circumstances.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

Intensive outpatient programs (abbreviated to IOPs) can be an excellent alternative to inpatient / residential programs for people who still require a high level of professional support and care.

Not everyone is able to fully commit to inpatient rehab, but in the early stages of the recovery process (when relapse is more likely), they still require intensive support.

  • IOPs are flexible, and can operate during the day, in the evening hours, and at weekends.
  • Clients are required to come to regular scheduled appointments, which are usually held 3-5 days per week. 
  • Each appointment generally lasts a few hours to allow time for enough therapy to take place.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) & Day Treatment Programs

Partial hospitalization programs (abbreviated to PHPs, and often referred to as day treatment programs) offer an even more intensive level of professional support and care than IOPs (described above).

  • These programs operate during the day, and patients may come as often as 5-7 days out of the week. 
  • Patients may also be required to have periodic drug tests to ensure they are being compliant with the program.
  • During PHPs, patients participate in individual and group therapy sessions, as well as other types of therapy. 
  • The daily time commitment to this type of program is usually adjusted down as the patient improves.

Traditional Outpatient Rehab & Therapy / Outpatient Programs (OPs)

Traditional (or standard) outpatient rehab programs (OPs) involve a combination of individual therapy sessions and specialized therapies, such as CBT, and it may or may not also include group therapy.

The level of support and care provided by these programs is normally not sufficient for people with a substance use disorder (SUD) who have never attended treatment before. In those instances, the minimum requirement is usually intensive outpatient programs (IOPs).

Outpatient rehab can be an excellent way to continue getting support once most of the work of recovery is finished. It allows people to keep working on the issues that initially led to their substance abuse problems.

Recovery Housing / Sober Living Homes

Recovery Housing (also known as Sober Living) provides comfortable, substance-free accommodation during an individual’s recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.

It is the perfect solution for those whose home and family life is not supportive of their recovery.

What are sober living homes?

Normally, these residential facilities maintain strict rules to keep people on track during their recovery – they may even insist on regular drug tests as proof of continued sobriety.

Residents are usually required to pay rent, and attend a form of recognized outpatient rehab.

What Happens at Outpatient Drug Rehab?

At the beginning of the outpatient drug rehab, patients travel each day they have therapy appointments scheduled either from their own home, from their previously arranged recovery housing accommodation, or from wherever else else they may be staying for the duration of their treatment.

Because outpatient drug rehab programs vary in their time commitment (the number of sessions per week, the time of day, and the length of those sessions), there is no “normal” schedule.

Outpatient drug rehab programs may also offer medical care, and have the necessary permissions to prescribe medications, such as medically assisted treatment (MAT), eg. methadone for those with opioid use disorder (OUD).

Either previously or at the very beginning of the outpatient drug rehab program, patients will meet with a staff clinician or other facility member to organize their personalized treatment plan.

Therapy

The treatment plan consists of treatment goals and objectives in order to make the therapy more effective.

For that purpose, the facility staff member will ask the patient important questions, which will usually include:

  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Medical history
  • Current medications
  • Mental health issues
  • Family problems
  • Legal problems, and 
  • Employment or academic history

Once the treatment plan is established, patients are informed about the facility rules and procedures they’re expected to follow during the length of the program, such as:

  • Some outpatient drug rehab programs require regular drug tests to make sure patients are not using drugs or drinking alcohol while receiving treatment.
  • Patients need to be fully compliant with the schedule they are given, and they must ensure they finish the program with 100% attendance. 
  • In some cases, they may have to complete assignments and tasks outside of the sessions.
Your health insurance plan may cover your recovery at SpringBoard. Verifying your insurance is quick and easy!

Outpatient Drug Rehab Therapies

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy (also known as one-to-one counseling and “talk therapy”) is often regarded as the cornerstone of addiction treatment. Clients work with professionally qualified therapists who specialize in treating substance abuse issues.

Additionally, they offer treatment for co-occurring disorders like anxiety and depression, which, after treatment, can further reduce the risk of a relapse.

Establishing the counselor-patient relationship is critical, and it can provide the patient real and positive insight into their personal thoughts and behaviors.

Group Therapy

Group therapy sessions can be incredibly beneficial to someone in an outpatient rehab program. People tend to learn extremely well from each other, and working with a group of peers can encourage people to continue in recovery, and motivate them to succeed.

Group sessions can also help people form long-term, substance-free friendships with others who are facing similar situations as they are. It is helpful for people in recovery to know that they are not alone, and this realization can give them further motivation.

Family Therapy

In normal circumstances, people in addiction recovery get the majority of their support from their families. However, addiction has a way of destroying these important relationships, which can make the patient feel isolated.

Family therapy can help people by working through their differences to a resolution so that these vital relationships can be restored.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

One of the most widely used therapies in addiction treatment, CBT teaches patients vital coping skills and tools to avoid relapse. One of the most important benefits of CBT for the patient is helping them to explore the positive and negative consequences of drug abuse.

In this way, it’s far easier for the individual to understand why their treatment and recovery is so important. CBT also helps to identify certain cravings specific to them, so these can be avoided or managed in the future.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

MET is designed to assist patients in clarifying, and then working through their own resistance to entering and fully participating in drug addiction treatment.

In this case, the therapist sources the necessary motivation for a positive change in the patient’s life, and then develops a comprehensive plan to make it happen.

MET begins with a thorough personal assessment, followed by 2-4 individual therapy sessions.

Outpatient Drug Rehab Therapy: Points to Remember

Successful addiction treatment has several steps:

  • Detoxification (if required)
  • Behavioral therapy – as provided by an outpatient treatment program
  • Medication (if required. eg. for opioid use disorder)
  • Evaluation and dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring mental health issues, eg. depression and anxiety
  • Long-term follow-up strategy to prevent relapse

Behavioral therapies help patients:

  • Modify their attitudes and behaviors toward drug use
  • Increase healthy life skills
  • Persist with other forms of treatment, such as medication

Benefits of Outpatient Treatment Programs (OP)

OP Benefit Why?

Live at Home

  • Continuing to live in your home environment while receiving outpatient addiction treatment can be a huge benefit to those who have a fully supportive family around them, especially for ttenagers adolescents.

Family Commitments

  • Many people believe they are unable to commit to addiction treatment because they have strict obligations, such as childcare, or other caregiving, eg. looking after elderly or disabled relatives. However, with an outpatient program, this is no longer so restrictive.

Work / Study

  • Likewise, there are many who feel unable to commit to treatment because of their jobs or their university or college studies. The right outpatient rehab program allows them the flexibility they need.
Accountability
  • Accountability during addiction treatment and afterwards is a decidedly underrated factor in successful recoveries. People need to know that their progress is important and that those providing treatment will be checking in to see how they are doing.
Real-World Practice
  • Because outpatient programs allow people to continue living at home, they are immediately putting their learning into practice in the real world.
Cost & Insurance
  • In the U.S., the Affordable Care Act requires health insurance companies to offer clients necessary addiction treatment just like any other form of treatment. Because of this, the majority of healthcare plans now cover the costs of an outpatient program in full.
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SpringBoard Recovery: Intensive Outpatient Drug Rehab

At SpringBoard Recovery, we offer one of the best intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) in the southeastern U.S.. We are here, ready and fully committed to providing you with the expert professional support you need to reach your recovery goals.

Our successful drug and alcohol treatment programs enables our clients to find a successful, long-term and sustainable recovery by:

  • Addressing underlying psychological conditions and past traumas
  • Learning how to identify and avoid high-risk situations, triggers, and relapses
  • Developing a new lifestyle that doesn’t depend on alcohol use
  • Receiving treatment at our facility and continuing to live at home or in one of our Recovery Houses
  • Maintaining your work, school, and family commitments while receiving treatment
Outpatient Drug Rehab FAQs

Outpatient Drug Rehab: FAQs

To decide if an intensive or traditional outpatient drug rehab program (IOP / OP) could work for you or a loved one struggling with substance addiction, read through the following FAQs – frequently asked questions – about this level of treatment and care.

1. Apart from people staying 24/7 at inpatient drug rehab, what are the main differences between outpatient drug rehab and inpatient drug rehab?

The main differences between outpatient and inpatient drug rehab, apart from the residency aspect, predominantly relate to freedom and cost. Patients receiving IOP or OP treatment have the freedom to continue to live at home (hopefully within the supportive framework of family), and be able to continue with the important parts of their life, such as working or studying, or being a mother or a caregiver.

The cost of an outpatient drug rehab program is significantly less than an inpatient program, and the full costs incurred should be completely covered by a standard healthcare insurance plan.

You can check and verify your insurance coverage with SpringBoard Recovery here.

2. Do you get the same addiction treatments and therapies at outpatient drug rehab? 

Yes, absolutely. All treatments and therapies  - including medically assisted treatment, CBT, counseling, and so on - are available at both an inpatient or an outpatient program, and are prescribed for each individual case.

3. How long does outpatient addiction treatment last?

The duration of outpatient drug rehab programs vary depending on the substance involved, the severity of the addiction, whether the program is intensive or not, and, obviously, the progress of the individual themselves during the program.

However, intensive and traditional outpatient programs normally last around 3 months, although the intensive version requires more hours per week.

5. Does standard health care insurance cover the cost of outpatient rehab?

Healthcare insurance coverage for addiction treatment will vary depending on your insurance company and policy.

However, in the U.S., the Affordable Care Act requires health insurance companies to offer clients necessary addiction treatment just like any other form of treatment. Because of this, the majority of healthcare plans now cover the costs of an outpatient program in full.

You can check and verify your insurance coverage with SpringBoard Recovery here.

6. Can outpatient treatment address co-occurring disorders?

Yes, depending on the facility you decide to attend and the level of services they offer - for example, SpringBoard Recovery’s IOP does include dual diagnosis treatment for patients where it is diagnosed.

As with any other treatment program, treating both addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions simultaneously is vital to the effectiveness of the treatment as a whole.

7. What are the main benefits of outpatient treatment?

Participating in an outpatient program can be beneficial :

  • You can continue to live at home, and so keep your family commitments, like childcare or caregiving, or continue your work or studies.
  • You retain your privacy because you are living at home (or in recovery housing).
  • You need to put what you have learned into practice immediately.
  • Not living at a facility requires you to hold yourself accountable, but most outpatient programs still provide additional support if it is needed.
  • Outpatient treatment typically requires you to participate in both individual and group therapies, so you’re able to build a support network.
  • Most healthcare insurance plans will cover the cost of an outpatient treatment program in full.

8. Is outpatient drug rehab enough for long-term recovery?

Outpatient programs are successful in helping people overcome their substance addiction. However, real recovery is a long road, and you have to keep maintaining your sobriety afterward.

Therefore, it’s highly recommended to join a 12-step program, such as AA or NA, or another mutual aid support program, like SMART Recovery, or to keep attending some form of counseling or individual talk therapy.

This way, you’ll continue to work on your recovery, your physical and mental health, and your level of motivation.

External Sources:

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. January, 2019. Available at DrugAbuse.gov.
  2. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). U.S. National Survey of Drug Use & Health: 2019. September, 2020. Available at SAMHSA.gov.
  3. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Dual Diagnosis. 2021. Available at MedlinePlus.gov.
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. 1999. Available at NLM.NIH.gov.
  5. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. About the Affordable Care Act. March, 2021. Available at HHS.gov.

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