What To Expect During Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment

Outpatient treatment programs allow patients to continue leaving their lives during recovery. These programs are usually less intensive than residential or inpatient programs. However, outpatient treatment programs are the first step in substance abuse recovery.

They provide support for individuals who want to change their lives without committing to long-term treatment. This type of program offers a safe environment where patients can begin to develop new skills and coping mechanisms.

Outpatient substance abuse treatment allows patients to receive care at their home or another location outside of a hospital setting. Patients who choose this type of treatment must follow certain rules and regulations. Here’s what to expect during outpatient substance abuse treatment.

1. Medically Supervised Detoxification

Outpatient substance abuse treatment should provide you with medication to manage withdrawal symptoms. You will also be closely monitored during this period because withdrawal symptoms can become dangerous if left untreated.

Therefore, patients should visit a local hospital or treatment facility for mental and physical check-ups during the detox period, which usually lasts up to seven days. Onsite, clinicians may administer medications to combat withdrawal symptoms like increased heart rate, depression, and anxiety.

2. Counselling Services

After the detoxification process, you will begin receiving counseling sessions. These sessions help you develop coping skills and build self-esteem.

3. Relapse Prevention Plans

After counseling, you will receive individualized relapse prevention plans to help you avoid relapsing into substance abuse.

4. Support Services

Outpatient substance abuse treatment centers provide support services like individual and group therapy to address negative thought patterns and behavior, medication management, drug abuse education, and medical care.

They also offer certain skills training, like setting boundaries in relationships, trauma education, vocational skills, self-discovery, and emotional regulation. Some therapy sessions include treatment like pain management therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, faith-based therapy or spirituality, anger management therapy, and motivational therapy.

5. Different Levels of Outpatient Care

Depending on your needs, there are different levels of outpatient care provided by outpatient substance abuse treatment centers. It is possible to transition from one level to another as your treatment needs change. For instance, treatment centers provide the following:

  • Partial hospitalization program: this level offers intensive care similar to inpatient treatment programs. Depending on the patient’s needs, it is available for 5-7 days. It also offers skills training and group therapy for a successful recovery.
  • Intensive outpatient treatment program: this level offers treatment during specific days and provides group and individual therapy to address behavioral issues and other issues.

Outpatient substance abuse treatments last for a period that depends on each patient’s needs. There are short-term programs, month-long programs, and long-term treatment programs.


Outpatient substance abuse treatment is ideal for people with a mild addiction. In addition, people who have completed an inpatient program can enroll in outpatient treatment as part of their continued recovery. However, outpatient substance abuse treatment is cheaper than inpatient treatment. Therefore, it is ideal for patients who cannot raise the high inpatient treatment fees, although most insurance plans cover outpatient treatment costs in some states.

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