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Guide on Outpatient Drug Rehab

Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 June 2024
  • What You'll Learn

What is outpatient drug rehab?

Outpatient drug rehab is a type of substance abuse treatment where the patient continues to live and stay at home, attending treatment remotely or in person by traveling to a facility regularly. Outpatient treatment programs are usually set within larger inpatient facilities since the two levels of care are meant to work together. After inpatient treatment, outpatient services are usually recommended.

While working at a drug and alcohol rehab center, I noticed that the clients who had continued success with their recovery made outpatient rehab services like IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) a part of their long-term plan. It is essential to understand that longer-term rehabilitation programs are incredibly structured, and the support they offer is sometimes taken for granted once an individual is no longer being treated. This structure and oversite is why attending some form of outpatient treatment service is always suggested after receiving inpatient care. If this type of care is not possible, then IOP and PHP (partial hospital programs) are the best options for success.

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List of Outpatient Drug Rehabs by State

Here is access to our entire outpatient drug rehabilitation database. Please select a state. If you need help locating the right treatment for you, do not hesitate to contact one of our treatment specialists.


Type of Treatment

What does outpatient drug rehab consist of?

The patients usually meet at a scheduled time for a group counseling session and may also have individual sessions weekly. They may also be screened for substance use and given assignments to perform while at home to further their recovery. Most group sessions include patients discussing and sharing their experiences around a specific recovery topic and may include support group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous.

When is outpatient treatment appropriate?

Outpatient treatment is best utilized as the next step after inpatient treatment is completed. As a supplement to a complete rehabilitation program, outpatient rehab doesn’t provide a person who is actively using substances with the tools or support to stop. Although it may seem attractive to the prospective patient only to attend an outpatient program to treat their addiction, taking such a shortcut isn’t advised. The recommended course is detox, inpatient treatment, and outpatient rehab. After completing outpatient treatment, the hope is that no further rehabilitation will be needed.

Are there different types of outpatient treatment?

There are many different types of outpatient treatment. “Outpatient” only describes the fact that the patient doesn’t live at the facility where treatment is rendered. So, many different types of rehabilitation have outpatient services. However outpatient drug and alcohol treatment is usually found wherever inpatient programs exist.

Different Types of Outpatient Treatment

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP):

This type of treatment for drug and alcohol use is a step below inpatient treatment. During PHP, an individual still lives at home but is required to attend treatment every day. PHP is a great option to help someone transition from an inpatient rehab center. It provides intense structure and support while the person transitions to life outside of rehab. From my experience, PHP programs are highly beneficial because it can be challenging to adjust to life once someone leaves treatment.

Intense Outpatient Program (IOP):

This is one of the most popular forms of outpatient drug rehab and requires the client to attend rehab several times a week. It is less demanding than PHP but still provides the individual with enough structure to succeed without preventing them from taking care of their responsibilities outside treatment. While this treatment model can be more convenient than inpatient or PHP programs, from my experience, it is best suited as part of an aftercare program. Most individuals with an extensive history of drug or alcohol use may find it difficult to find success by only attending IOP.

Support Groups:

This type of outpatient service is the least demanding type of outpatient treatment and usually involves an individual attending meetings once a week or a couple of times a month. While the benefits of support groups are tremendous, they are not suited to handle individuals with a long history of drug and alcohol use who haven’t attended a more intense form of inpatient or outpatient care. Support groups tend to be the last step of a more intensive aftercare program or for individuals who have noticed they are starting to make poor decisions about their substance use. That being said, support groups can still be beneficial and are an excellent way for more intense substance use cases to bridge the gap of care while being on a waiting list for inpatient rehab.

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Questions to Ask When Looking for Outpatient Treatment

For every outpatient program you contact within your state, consider some of the following questions before admission:

  • What is the required length of time needed? How many days a week, and how many hours each day?
  • What therapy and counseling options are offered? Does it include any other services or aftercare support options?
  • Is access to a detox program part of the outpatient program?
  • What is the total cost for the set length of time required, and are there additional costs?
  • What happens if there is a relapse during treatment?

Tips for Finding Outpatient Treatment

  • Consult our directory and search through information detailing the various outpatient programs in the state of your choice.
  • Contact your local Medicaid office or health insurance provider; find out what outpatient services are covered. Generally, outpatient substance use treatment is covered by most health insurance providers.
  • Contact more than one outpatient program. Generally, there are never waitlists because clients are not living at the facility. Ask about the admission process, payment options, and the accepted health insurances.
  • Ask about standard outpatient treatment or intensive outpatient programs (IOP); both have pros and cons.
  • Outpatient programs are common in larger metropolitan areas, yet some operate in smaller communities. Ideally, it’s a good idea to consider programs in different communities, yet commuting can make it challenging.
  • List the top three choices for outpatient treatment. Ensure the program fits your finances and treatment needs.
  • Begin the admission process as soon as possible.

Benefits of Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab

  • These programs are beneficial for someone who is still working and who has family responsibilities.
  • Outpatient programs are less expensive and more accessible for most families.
  • Outpatient treatment allows less disruption in a person’s life if they maintain their commitment to treatment.
  • Random drug and alcohol testing is done to ensure the client remains sober.

Professional Observations on IOP and Outpatient Rehabs

After advising thousands of people, I’ve found that outpatient rehabs can be a good option for certain people. However, one must use their judgment to decide if it is the best option. One of the main reasons for choosing an outpatient setting would be work and finances. The person may have debts or a family to provide for, or they may not want their boss or anyone who could impact their life to find out about their addiction. The downside is that the person stays in the same environment, so their triggers remain. It could be a family member, a co-worker, or a friend. This makes it risky for relapse and could worsen their situation. Outpatient settings are for mild addiction and are only suitable if the person is 100% willing to go to treatment.

On the other hand, an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), because it is intensive, leaves less time to connect with trigger points and offers a lower chance of relapse.

In conclusion, getting an excellent drug assessment from a professional is essential to understand what is best for the individual and what would give them the best chance of success. This is very important. With today’s drug potency, it is harder to manage this on our own.

-Michael Leach, CCMA

Common Terminology Surrounding Outpatient Drug Rehabilitation

Intensive Outpatient Treatment
Typically, a time-limited non-residential clinical treatment involves attending a program daily for several hours per day. One step below intensive outpatient treatment is partial hospitalization.
Partial Hospitalization Programs
are an intensive clinical service that is often medically monitored. The program is a step below inpatient hospitalization, and the patient is participating in clinical services all day long for a set time. Like outpatient treatment, a partial hospitalization program requires the patient to live at home and attend treatment daily.
Day Programs
are outpatient day programs that have the highest level of care and structure provided in an outpatient setting. Typically, residents of day programs commit to meetings five to seven days per week at an outpatient center for multiple hours each day.
Continuing Care
these are support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous and are ongoing support resources to help recovering addicts stay connected to sober people.
Peer Support
is also known as mutual help organizations that are structured non-clinical relationships. Individuals participate in activities that engage, educate, and support patients recovering from substance use.
Recovery Coach
is a non-clinical peer support specialist or peer mentor that operates within a community organization. Most recovery coaches are former addicts and focus on helping individuals to set and achieve goals important to recovery.




More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.



More Information

Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.