Outpatient Treatment

Happy woman in therapyNot everyone is a candidate for a residential drug rehab center where you go away to a treatment facility for a designated amount of time. For many people, outpatient drug treatment can be a great alternative that helps them abstain from drug use for the rest of their lives. Some outpatient treatment programs take place regularly during the week. During these programs, you may attend various education and counseling programs. Other programs last for only a few hours a week. Some programs require you to come in for full day treatments several times a week. These all-day treatment programs are more intense and may be more appropriate for someone who requires a greater level of care. Despite the differences between outpatient treatment programs, the goal is always the same: to help people recover from drug or alcohol addiction so that they are able to re-enter society and lead life without drug abuse.

What services are offered in outpatient treatment?

This answer depends on the specific program as there are a variety of services available via outpatient treatment. Some common services include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • 12-Step work
  • Alcohol and drug education
  • Spirituality group
  • Men’s group
  • Women’s group
  • Relapse prevention
  • Short and long-term aftercare
  • Life skills
  • Re-socialization skills
  • Pharmacological treatment
  • Mental health treatment
  • Drug screening
  • Legal system advocacy
  • Affiliations with sober living houses

How Outpatient Treatment Can Help

One of the major challenges in outpatient programs is that some people drop out. Because the program is only for a few hours per week, some individuals continue drug use. Others decide that they simply don’t want to stay enrolled in care, and they drop out and return to drugs before they’ve completed their work. Even when someone is in an outpatient treatment program, he still faces environmental factors that have strong ties to drug abuse. Until he is removed from the activities, places and relationships that facilitate drug use, the chance of drug relapse is very high.1

Some outpatient treatment facilities provide Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) in the early days of the treatment process. MET includes an initial assessment battery session followed by two to four individual treatment sessions with a therapist.2 In these sessions, for example, someone with a cocaine problem would be encouraged to think about how their lives have been altered due to their habits. He is asked to think about how their lives might be different if they didn’t use.

The sessions can be long and the talks can be hard.However, this is time well spent. These sessions can enable the individual to develop a deep and longstanding commitment to getting clean, regardless of what happens around them. MET can actually keep people from dropping out of treatment.

Contingency management techniques can also be helpful. In this type of therapy, patients are given a small prize that reinforces positive behavior change. Typically, these incentives are given when individuals meets some kind of therapeutic goal3 such as:

  • Attending sessions on time
  • Producing a urine screen free of drugs
  • Providing proof of support group attendance
  • Volunteering in the community

These rewards make the value of sobriety immediate.This shift of perspective may evenallow the individual to be a part of long-term therapy and sobriety.

The Advantages of Outpatient Treatment

There are several advantages to outpatient treatment that appeal to certain individuals recovering from drug or alcohol addiction. In many cases, the cost of an outpatient program is generally less than that of a residential drug treatment program. Outpatient treatment also allows flexibility for those who want to maintain their careers and family life during the recovery period.This form of treatment offers a chance to find help while not completely disrupting the flow of an individual’s life. And for some, there is a negative stigma associated with residential care that may be hard to overcome.

Wherever you are today, if you need help or you would like some help for a loved one, please know the right treatment options are available. Just call us. We will give you all the information you need to make the right decision. Don’t wait any longer. Please make the call right now.


1Risk Factors for Addiction.” Healthline.Accessed 8 November 2017.

2Motivational Enhancement Therapy (Alcohol, Marijuana, Nicotine).” National Institute On Drug Abuse. Accessed 8 November 2017.

3 “Higgins, Stephen T., “Contingency Management Incentives for Sobriety.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.Accessed 8 November 2017.

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