Are You Ready to Heal?: A Guide to Outpatient Recovery Programs

by Staff

Are you emotionally, mentally, and physically drained? Are you inches away from losing your job, your house, your family?

Are you tired of hearing people say, ‘You should stop drinking or drugging’? Why can’t they understand it’s out of your control?

You’re not alone, at least 22 million Americans have been through what you’re experiencing at the moment. The good news is, all those people have recovered and are living full, happy lives right now.

Are you ready to beat alcohol or drugs before they beat you? Keep reading to find out more about outpatient recovery options and how they might help you.

What Is Outpatient Recovery?

Outpatient differs from inpatient rehabilitation in one key aspect. When you attend inpatient rehab, you must put your life on hold and isolate yourself from the world for a few weeks or months.

With outpatient treatment, you continue as normal and visit the treatment center according to your scheduled appointments.

It’s like attending boarding school versus day school. You learn the same syllabus, despite the different attendance requirements.

Outpatient addiction treatments make it possible for a lot more addicts to find recovery. They fit in with people’s lifestyles more easily and ensure greater discretion.

Many addicts choose this type of treatment when they’re desperate for recovery, but can’t put their lives on hold for long enough to check into an inpatient facility.

Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient treatment is different from residential rehabilitation in that you can attend a facility that is precisely focused on your needs. Inpatient rehabilitation offers a more general approach (in most cases).

There’s no competition amongst these types of rehabilitation services as they have a different market. Together they aspire to provide solutions for as many addicts as possible.

The Benefits of Inpatient Rehab

For people with serious addictions, the highly-controlled environment of an inpatient facility is vital to kick the habit initially. Many of these people need 24-hour supervision while undergoing detox, too.

Inpatient rehabilitation removes you from the stressors and triggers associated with everyday life, allowing you to focus fully on your recovery.

Along with medical supervision, you receive constant support from your peers and counselors while in residence at these facilities. Qualified counselors are on hand to assist with any mental health issues, and physicians can prescribe withdrawal medication if necessary.

Studies show that prolonged exposure to therapy and routine can assist in relieving the symptoms of anxiety, PTSD, and OCD.

Drawbacks Associated with Inpatient Rehabilitation

The most prohibitive aspect of inpatient care is the cost. It’s very expensive to run and maintain these fully-staffed facilities, and admission prices are high.

Fortunately, many health insurers recognize alcoholism as a disease and will pay for a specified amount of inpatient rehabilitation. In some cases, your insurer might insist you try outpatient rehab first.

By far, the biggest drawback with inpatient rehab is that you must put your life on hold for the duration of the treatment. For many, this means they must sacrifice their jobs to attend this type of rehab.

Some people find the idea of sharing a room with another person off-putting, and others don’t enjoy having little control over their environment.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Outpatient Rehab

When you attend outpatient rehab, you can still control most of your schedule and attend school or work as normal.

It’s a much cheaper alternative to inpatient rehab, and preferred by health insurers, due to the lower costs.

At an outpatient facility, you have more say over which therapist you use. Inpatient facilities usually assign you whoever they think suits you best.

Outpatient care also presents some drawbacks, including:

  • A less controlled environment and more temptation to use
  • No break from the stresses of work and home
  • Little support in between your assigned sessions

Outpatient care is less effective for severe cases of addiction, and you might not get adequate therapy for any co-occurring conditions. You can eliminate the latter by choosing an outpatient center that’s geared toward your requirements.

There’s no wrong or right way to approach your recovery. It’s most important to find a method that works for you, even if you fail at it the first few times.

You must remember that very many addicts relapse several times before they’re finally ready to live a sober lifestyle. So, don’t let your mistakes prevent you from trying again.

Types of Outpatient Addiction Treatment

There are a variety of outpatient rehab facilities to pick from when you take your first teetering steps toward sobriety or leave an inpatient rehabilitation center.

These are:

Day Treatment

Day treatment is an intensive rehabilitation program that involves attending sessions between five and seven times per week. The programs have either full- or half-day format.

Day treatments center around a daily routine involving several therapies, including:

  • Medicated detox
  • Counseling
  • Support groups

It’s the same as inpatient rehab without the sleepover aspect. Patients return to their families at the end of each day.

The duration and intensity of these programs depend on the addict’s condition and how fast they progress.

In some cases, patients are ready to move on to the recovery process in a few weeks. Others take much longer to reach a stage where they can avoid temptation on their own.

Intensive Outpatient Programs

Despite the name, these outpatient programs aren’t as intense as day treatment programs.

The sessions take place during the day or in the evenings so that patients can go about their lives as normally as possible. Attendance times are more flexible to fit in with other appointments, as well as family or work commitments.

When you first start these programs, you’ll attend meetings very frequently, but this tapers off as you reach certain recovery goals. The program centers on preventing relapse, building self-esteem, and dealing with underlying emotional or mental issues.

These programs work best if you have a strong support system at home.

Continuing Care Groups

These support systems are the final step in the recovery process, and you should plan on attending them for the rest of your life.

Continuing care focuses on meeting with fellow recovering addicts to discuss their challenges and accomplishments.

Most continuing care groups meet once a week for about an hour. Your outpatient treatment center will most likely put you in touch with suitable ones in your area.

If these group sessions sound a lot like Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, that’s because they are very similar.

12-Step Meetings

These meetings often fall under the banner of AA or other groups and center on the belief that addicts are best qualified to help other addicts recover.

Meetings take place all over the world, in almost every size town and city. There’s a high likelihood that there’s a 12-Step meeting taking place right now, somewhere in the world.

There are evening meetings as well as lunchtime meetings to ensure that everyone who needs help can find time in their day to attend. In larger centers, you can attend a meeting every day, while smaller towns usually host these meetings at least twice a week.

There are two kinds of AA meetings, namely:

  • Closed meetings open to recovering addicts only
  • Open meetings that anyone can attend

There is no membership fee and no official record of membership for 12-step programs. AA places a high emphasis on enjoying a joyful and fulfilling sober life, not simply maintaining sobriety.

Despite the lack of formalities, these programs have a very high success rate, especially among people who’ve already attended an inpatient rehab program.

Some members have accumulated 50 years of sobriety or more, and they’re still going strong.

Addiction Counseling

Do you feel self-conscious about baring your soul in public?

Help is available. You can benefit from outpatient treatment through individual counseling sessions, too.

This treatment involves one-on-one sessions with qualified, licensed, and experienced counselors. These professionals can help you deal with all aspects of addiction and help you master important life skills.

When you feel confident enough to share your feelings and experiences, you can advance to the supportive environment of group counseling sessions.

Halfway Houses

A halfway house isn’t a type of treatment in the strictest sense, but they’re an important stepping stone for some addicts when they first leave a treatment center.

Recovering addicts live in a communal environment in these homes, with close access to help at the rehabilitation center if needed. Apart from having help and support close at hand, people who live in these homes can come and go as they please.

While most addicts feel confident enough to return home when their stay at an inpatient center comes to an end, some people require a little more time to adjust.

It’s easier for these folks to re-immerse themselves into reality with the support of their peers.

Which Outpatient Recovery Program Is Right for You?

If you’ve recently attended an inpatient treatment center, it’s vital to get to work on your continuing sobriety right away. Most people who’ve been through a residential center choose to attend 12-step meetings in the evenings.

These meetings are best suited to individuals who are already familiar with the basics of what recovery entails, although they’re open to everyone.

Likewise, if you have a mild addiction, meetings and counseling may work as a starting point for your recovery.

If you have a serious problem, it’s very difficult to get on top of all the complexities of addiction while still embroiled in your daily life. Extensive in-patient rehabilitation is always the most suitable course of action in these cases.

Those who can’t afford these expensive treatments or have family commitments that preclude time away from home, should at the very least opt for an outpatient program that offers medically-assisted detox and intensive, daily counseling.

The following questions can help you decide which option is most suited to your circumstances:

  • Do I need thorough 24/7 care?
  • Can I trust myself to administer my medication for medical detox?
  • Will I manage to avoid abuse triggers while going about my daily routine?
  • How much time can I take off work?
  • Is there a reputable outpatient treatment center in my area?
  • Do I need help with issues like PTSD, chronic pain, or depression?
  • Which type of treatment will my insurer pay for?

You must answer these questions honestly and realistically if you’re serious about achieving sobriety.

Remember, it’s not all about you, either. If your spouse or partner already has a full schedule of work and family responsibilities, you must choose an option that works for them too.

Things to Look for When Choosing a Treatment Center

If you decide to opt for an outpatient treatment program, you must find the best one in your area. Your life depends on it, after all.

Make sure the rehab center meets the following requirements:

  • Relevant licenses and accreditations
  • Demographic specific treatments
  • A multidisciplinary therapeutic and clinical team
  • Offers a range of evidence-based treatments
  • Offers any specialized treatments you need

Finally, the deal-breaker is whether your insurance will pay the costs associated with attending your chosen outpatient facility.

Maximize Every Moment of Your Recovery

The world’s a wonderful place when you’ve got the time and energy to embrace life to the fullest. As your treatment progresses, you’ll discover many new ways to fill your time and enjoy your life more each day.

An outpatient recovery program will help you cope with the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of your recovery, but what about the rest?

As an addict, you’ve got plenty of work to do on your physical health, too. Browse our blog for healthy eating advice and exercise tips to help you make the most of your recovery.

About the Author/s

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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