The road to sobriety is different for everyone. That’s why health care professionals and service providers have developed various methods of treatment that adapt to the different needs of each individual person. Outpatient treatment is just one of the many options that people have when it comes to addiction recovery.
Offering therapies that target both the individual and their network of family and friends, outpatient treatmentprovides persons the support and training they need without having to remove them from the context of their own, everyday life.
What is Outpatient Treatment?
The main distinction between outpatient treatment and all other forms of therapy is that participants don’t have to live in a facility throughout its duration. Instead, they get to live in their own homes, continue their work, and live independently as long as they religiously attend their therapy sessions.
Not all outpatient treatment programs are the same. Just like any other form of treatment, the structure, intensity, and frequency of the therapy depends on the needs of each individual client. For the most part however, outpatient treatment focuses on behavioral therapy, counseling, education, and the provision of a network of support.
Who is Eligible for Outpatient Treatment?
Not everyone is a fit for outpatient treatment. For instance, individuals with severe addiction and high levels of denial are best treated through an in-patient setting. This curbs the risk of relapse and minimizes the dangers associated with withdrawal during the detoxification process.
Another thing is that outpatient treatment provides a higher level of independence, giving participants significant time throughout the day without supervision and guidance. For clients with strong cravings, this freedom may prove to be dangerous to their own well-being.
While eligibility for outpatient treatment depends mainly on the outcomes of various tests and assessments, doctors generally look for the following qualities to determine a person’s readiness for the program:
- Mild addiction and/or dependence
- Mild or no symptoms of withdrawal
- Willingness to stop the use of illicit substances
- Supportive network of family and friends
- Safe living environment
Depending on the specifics of an individual’s situation, the outpatient program may be tailored to better suit their needs. In many cases, outpatient programs are the next step after completing an in-patient treatment program as clients are slowly eased into a more independent living situation following more intensive treatment.
Types of Outpatient Programs
Everyone’s needs are different, so outpatient programs are made available in varying structures to provide every person an experience that perfectly fits their present situation. There are three main categories for outpatient treatment programs including:
- Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) – Requiring significant commitment, PHP program schedules typically call for five to seven sessions in a week. Hours may change depending on a person’s need, but sessions are typically divided into group therapy, individual therapy, family counseling, and other necessary therapies and skills training classes.
Once the sessions are done, participants can go back home to their own residence and families or they return to their sober living home, whatever the case might be. While these programs are generally more flexible than in-patient programs, the time commitment and frequency of sessions may limit the opportunity for work and other responsibilities.
- Intensive Outpatient Programs – Also called IOPs, these programs provide measurable milestones that clients work to achieve throughout the duration of their sessions. The more milestones they meet, the less time they have to spend in outpatient therapy.
IOP makes the perfect treatment plan for individuals with a strong will to overcome their addiction. The nature of the meetings may be similar to day programs, with the distinction that the duration of each session might be much shorter and far less frequent.
- Continuing Care Programs – Treatment options like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous actually fall under outpatient treatment. These continuing care programs provide individuals support and structure that can help them stay sober while they engage in their everyday activities.
There are many different kinds of continuing care programs, some of which are tailored for specific age and gender groups. Meetings are scheduled at least once a week, and serve the purpose of keeping clients on track while they live independently.
What Happens in Outpatient Treatment?
Keep in mind that not all outpatient treatment programs are the same since structure depends on what each individual client needs. Nonetheless, some of the most common components of outpatient treatment include:
- Individual Therapy – Considered one of the most important parts of the outpatient treatment process, individual therapy helps health care workers map out a client’s progress.
This is also where therapists tap into the most pertinent core issues and problem areas that might hinder successful recovery. In most cases, individual therapy is also where clients learn specific coping techniques like mindfulness and stress management.
- Family Counseling – The family plays an integral role in a person’s recovery. Through family counseling, participants are given an in-depth look into the negative patterns and dynamics within the circle that might contribute to the individual’s unhealthy behavior and drug use.
This also proves to be the perfect opportunity for counselors to educate family members on what addiction is and what it isn’t. This further equips the members to handle the situation and to interact with the client without stigma or presumptions.
- Group Sessions – Social interaction has been found to be particularly beneficial for people struggling with drug use. These therapy sessions place members in groups of to help improve their social skills and develop self-awareness by identifying with others.
During group sessions, it’s also likely that therapists provide various activities that are best achieved alongside others. These can include mindfulness, life skills training, relapse prevention training, and chemical dependency education, among many others.
Recovery is On the Way
With outpatient treatment, individuals get the opportunity to exercise their freedom without sacrificing the support and guidance necessary for their successful recovery. Outpatient treatment can be a wonderful new way to learn skills and techniques to completely overcome drug use while still fulfilling your roles as a family member, worker, and provider. And with proper support and a willingness to move forward, outpatient treatment might just be the final step before complete recovery.