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Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Read on to learn more about outpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs and how they work. Learn how to find outpatient rehab programs and facilities.

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What Is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab for substance use disorders does consists of meetings and therapies similar to other forms of rehab without requiring to patients to live on site.

Outpatient rehab programs generally allow you to live at home, work, attend school, and participate in social activities while still receiving vital addiction treatment. Sometimes, individuals who complete inpatient treatment for drug or alcohol ”step down” into an outpatient rehab program. Patients who find they need more support or supervision than an outpatient program provides may also “step up” into an inpatient program. Understanding what outpatient treatment is, how it can benefit you, and how to find an outpatient rehab near you can help you continue your journey to recovery.

Both outpatient and inpatient rehab for substance use disorders includes teaching people a variety of skills, including coping with stressors and identifying triggers, relapse prevention, communication, problem-solving, and stress management.1, 3 Outpatient treatment programs cost less than residential or inpatient treatment programs.8

Who is Outpatient Rehab For?

Whether or not outpatient rehab is the right choice for you will depend on your individual needs , the severity of your substance use disorder, your living situation, and other factors. It is typically more suitable than inpatient rehab for people who have jobs and social support.8

Consulting with a physician or a medical professional may help you with your treatment decisions. They can assess the severity of your substance use disorder and help determine the right direction for your treatment.

Outpatient rehab can be helpful for certain types of people struggling with substance use disorders. These include:

  • People who have completed higher levels of care, such as inpatient rehab.5  Outpatient rehab clinics offer a step-down level of care that allows people to transition back into their home environment and usual routine while still receiving treatment and support as they adjust.
  • People who have substance use disorders that aren’t severe enough to require inpatient treatment, but who still require treatment and support to stay sober after detox.5(2)  This also applies to people who may not be able to take the time to spend away from homes, such as single parents or those with jobs that they can’t take time away from.1

Types of Outpatient Rehab

There are three main types of outpatient rehab:

  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) or rehab day programs.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOP).
  • Standard outpatient programs.

Each of these types of outpatient rehab differ in their intensity and the services offered. It is not uncommon for individuals to step-down or step-up between these levels as progress in these programs is continually evaluated. Speaking with a medical professional can help you to determine which type of outpatient treatment is right for you.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

Partial hospitalization programs, also known as PHPs or rehab day programs, are the most intensive type of outpatient treatment for people with substance use disorders. Patients in these programs often have co-occurring mental health disorders.4, 5 These programs typically offer up to 10 hours of treatment for 5 to 7 days per week.5, 7 These programs often serve as a step down following traditional inpatient or residential care for patients with a history of relapse after treatment completion or are returning to a high-risk environment and need significant support in their recovery efforts.7

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

An intensive outpatient program, or an IOP for short, is more time-intensive than standard outpatient treatment programs. Group therapy is the main component of many IOPs although they may also offer individual counseling, medication management, case management, introduction to mutual help groups, psychiatric screening, treatment for co-occurring disorders, and vocational training programs.7 Treatment typically consists of 9 hours or more of treatment per week over 3 to 5 days for a duration anywhere from several weeks to 90 days or more.7

Standard Outpatient Programs

Standard outpatient treatment may or may not offer the same services as more intensive outpatient programs, but, in general, standard outpatient programs tend to be less rigorous.3(4) Group and individual sessions are offered in an office or treatment facility setting, although sessions take up less than 9 hours weekly.3

Benefits of Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab has an array of benefits including flexibility and freedom. Groups and individual sessions may be scheduled at times that are convenient for those in attendance.4 This means that treatment can be provided at various times, such as in the morning, afternoon, evening, or even on weekends in some cases.

The flexibility offered in scheduling allows patients to participate in their daily routine with limited or no interruption while still receiving effective treatment for a substance use disorder. This means that they can attend school or work and manage responsibilities at home while in treatment. As part of step-down care from an inpatient treatment program, outpatient treatment can help to ease the transition process, as it helps patients learn to manage stressors at home, school, and work by allowing them to use the skills they learn in treatment.5(p2, 9) 

Outpatient programs tend to be longer in duration than inpatient programs due to their lower cost.5 Studies have shown that participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness, whereas longer periods of treatment have proven beneficial in helping people maintain positive outcomes.1

How Long Does Outpatient Rehab Last?

There is no predetermined length of rehab treatment. How long you find yourself attending outpatient treatment will depend largely on your progress in achieving your treatment goals.7 The type of outpatient program you are attending may also determine the length of time you spend in treatment. Your insurance coverage may also play a factor in determining the length of treatment.

Paying for Outpatient Treatment

Another benefit of outpatient rehab is its relative affordability. Paying for outpatient rehab is often more affordable than inpatient rehab or detox.  If you plan to pay for rehab without insurance, costs may be more affordable because you are not paying for lodging or the more acute services offered in detox or inpatient rehab.1, 5 

Further, insurance may be able to cover some or all of the cost of medically necessary outpatient treatment.6 The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires all health insurance plans to provide some degree of coverage for the treatment of behavioral and mental health disorders, including treatment for substance use disorders.6 As a result, you may be able to use insurance to help cover the costs of treatment. However, your insurance may not cover everything, depending on the plan you have and whether you attend an in-network or out-of-network facility. It’s important to check your coverage before committing to outpatient rehab.

How Do I Find Outpatient Rehab Near Me?

Many people may seek out outpatient rehab programs in their local area so they can attend treatment while living at home. The treatment locator or treatment center directory on can help you find a local outpatient rehab center. 

If you’ve completed or are nearing the completion of an inpatient or residential rehab center, you may want to discuss attending outpatient rehab with your aftercare planning team. If your inpatient rehab is in a different area from your home, you may consider contacting your doctor to discuss nearby outpatient rehab options.

Additionally, you may consider reaching out to an addiction helpline. for example,  American Addiction Centers (AAC) offers a free and confidential 24/7 hotline available at . Beyond your questions about treatment, they can help you find a local rehab center.