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Outpatient Rehab


Outpatient rehab differs from inpatient rehab in that the patient does not reside at the treatment facility. Patients can potentially visit the treatment center only one day a week, or all seven days, but an outpatient course of treatment commonly has patients engaging in treatment between two and five days a week. Patients will be responsible for arranging their own living quarters during the treatment, so it is important that they have a stable place to be that is free of triggers or other issues that could complicate their recovery.

Patients visit their treatment facility for face-to-face substance abuse and mental health counseling, group therapy activities, and peer support group meetings. Depending on the facility they may also have the option of alternative therapies that complement their primary treatment, like art or equine therapy. Those with opioid addictions will likely receive their maintenance medications while at the facility.

There are several different types of outpatient rehab. The different names for the different programs may be a little confusing at first, but all they really indicate is how many days and how many hours per day the patient will be expected to be at the facility. Generally speaking, the most time-consuming programs are called “partial hospitalization” or “intensive outpatient” treatment. These programs are usually a full-time commitment on the part of the patient and will leave little time for a job or other outside activities. Standard outpatient treatment will more likely only consist of several hours a day for two or three days of the week. The level of intensity will depend on individual circumstances, such as the substance that the patient is addicted to and how long they have been addicted for.

Who is a Good Candidate for Outpatient Rehab?

With serious addictions, patients usually spend at least 30 days in an inpatient program before they can start to consider transitioning to an outpatient program. A patient will generally only go straight to an outpatient program if they have a milder addiction to one of the less addictive substances.

There are more factors in play than just the nature of the addiction, however. While patients ideally should never be expected to compromise their treatment, the hard reality is that insurance sometimes will not cover more than 30 days of inpatient treatment. If the patient still feels they need residential treatment at the end of this period but cannot cover the costs out of pocket, a viable option is to enter an outpatient program and live at a sober transitional housing facility, which still provides most of the features of the inpatient program along with safe and substance-free housing. Outpatient treatment is also not appropriate when the patient’s home environment is unstable or is likely to contribute to the addiction.

If the patient is staying with family, it is ideal for the family to participate in family therapy with them while they undergo their outpatient program. Families nearly always mean well, but sometimes can unknowingly be contributing to the addiction with enabling behaviors. Family therapy helps families to identify and correct these dynamics.

The Next Step after Treatment

Since outpatient treatment in Wisconsin is much less costly than inpatient treatment, it is easier for the patient to continue with it for as long as they feel is appropriate. There is no fixed period or deadline that a patient should feel they have to be “cured” by. Addiction is a disease, and it is one that usually has to be carefully managed for life. The good news is that this management is very possible, and outpatient treatment provides all the skills and knowledge needed to do it.

After the formal outpatient treatment is concluded, most patients still continue to go to peer support group meetings, sometimes for years. Those being treated for opioid addictions may still need to continue visiting a treatment center for their management medications after they have completed their counseling and therapy. Aftercare is also generally provided by treatment centers for some period of time, allowing patients to come back in for anything they might need. Everyone’s long-term maintenance practices will vary a little bit, but those who successfully complete outpatient rehab will find that they are able to manage their addiction while still living a normal, productive and happy life.

If you are considering treatment, speak to an addiction specialist today. They will be able to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding treatment. Find the key to lasting recovery.