Is Outpatient Drug Rehab Effective?

If you have a substance use disorder (drug addiction), the best choice to get back to a sober life is drug rehab. There are two main kinds of rehab — either inpatient or outpatient. Inpatient rehab programs require you to live in a rehab center for the entire duration of the treatment. Outpatient programs, though, do not.

When you’re enrolled in an outpatient drug rehab program, you only go to the rehab center during scheduled therapy sessions. There could be several therapies, and each one has a specific number of hours per week. After each session is over, you can go home or go back to work.

The care given in outpatient rehab is not as intensive and focused as that of inpatient rehab. You may be wondering, “is outpatient drug rehab effective?” Here are some answers.

What are the advantages of outpatient drug rehab?

Outpatient Drug RehabThe clearest advantage of outpatient rehab is you are not confined to a rehab center for months. You are still free to stay home and move around outside of your scheduled therapy sessions. That means you can continue to work or study while getting treatment.

Also, you can apply everything you learn in therapy to real life right away. This gives you a chance to prove to yourself that the treatments are working. You’ll get a sense of fulfilment from it, too.

Another important thing is you will not be isolated from family and friends. You can freely communicate with them and get support daily. You can be with your usual community of people, giving you a sense of comfort and familiarity. This helps with recovery as you don’t have to go through the stress of adjusting to a completely different group of people.

Outpatient drug rehab also costs much less than inpatient rehab. That means you won’t have to shell out a huge amount of money to get treatment.

If your case of substance use disorder is mild, and you present no risk to the people around you, there’s a high chance that outpatient rehab will be advised to you.

What therapies are given in outpatient drug rehab?

Outpatient Drug RehabThe therapies given in outpatient rehab are similar to those in inpatient rehab. One of them is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which aims to help you change your responses to stress, negative emotions, and other things that trigger drug cravings. Your CBT therapist will teach you how to spot situations that lead to drug use, as well as healthier ways to cope with those situations. The end goal of CBT is self-regulation, in which you can control your own responses to your drug triggers.

Another common therapy involves motivational incentives. Here, you get rewarded for staying sober. The incentives may be in cash, coupons, or vouchers. You will have to maintain a “streak” of staying sober, which can be for a number of days or weeks. The longer you stay sober, the more the incentives stack up. You also get bigger rewards for longer periods of staying drug free.

Family therapy may also be included. You will benefit a lot if your family knows how best to support you on your road to recovery. In family therapy sessions, the therapist educates your family members on your addiction, drug triggers, and best practices to make sure you stay sober as much as possible. The therapist will also teach your family members healthy ways to deal with stressful situations. That way, you will have no reason to resort to drugs.

What are the disadvantages of outpatient drug rehab?

Outpatient rehab is not perfect. It also has its drawbacks.

For one, you do not get 24/7 medical care, unlike in an inpatient rehab facility. In case you have a problem, you can’t immediately get hold of a doctor or mental health specialist.

Staying at home may be risky for some people. If your home contains a number of drug triggers, then it’s not a good idea to keep going back home while you’re in treatment. Unsupportive or verbally abusive family members make matters worse, if you’re in that situation.

For some, traveling to and from the rehab center is an issue. If you live far from the center, commuting will take much of your time. If commuting is a cause of stress for you, it may even interfere with the recovery process.

Here’s another huge risk. Outside of treatment, no one from the rehab center watches over you. In turn, no one can stop you when you try to take drugs again. Being outside the treatment center makes you vulnerable to relapse, especially if there are places you often go to that exposes you to drugs.

How effective is outpatient drug rehab?

Outpatient Drug RehabMost studies show that outpatient rehab has the same level of success as inpatient rehab. Some studies, though, indicate that even for patients recommended for outpatient treatment, they had better recovery outcomes when treated in inpatient rehabs.

This is not to say that outpatient rehab is ineffective. The point is outpatient rehab has limitations that inpatient rehab does not have, so outpatient rehab is just not as successful.

One common recommendation is to enroll in inpatient rehab, then once it’s over, follow it up with outpatient treatments. Doing this vastly increases the success rate of treatment. If you have the support you need even after rehab, your chances of relapsing is much lower.

If ever you do relapse, it’s not the end of the line. It doesn’t mean rehab has failed. In fact, up to 60% of patients who have gone through drug rehab experience relapse. That’s normal, as substance use disorder is a chronic disease, much like hypertension or diabetes. Symptoms recurring in people living with these diseases isn’t seen as failure of treatment, so relapse should not be, either.

But if you have the right kind of support from your family, as well as follow up treatments, relapse is less likely to happen. Your recovery outcomes will be much better.