Outpatient Drug & Alcohol Rehab: Find Outpatient Addiction Treatment
Outpatient rehab is a form of substance abuse treatment that doesn’t require overnight stays at a hospital or residential facility. It can serve as an effective and flexible option for those looking to recover from substance use disorders (SUDs). Although they’re less intensive than inpatient or residential rehabilitation, outpatient rehab programs entail a wide variety of therapeutic interventions and services, and can take place in many different settings.1,2
Outpatient treatment provides patients with the appropriate treatment intensity, as well as professional support and accountability that they’ll need—taking into account SUD severity, strengths, goals, and treatment objectives. This page will help readers understand more about what classifies outpatient rehab, the benefits and challenges associated with outpatient care, and how to pay for outpatient treatment.
What is Outpatient Rehab?
Outpatient rehab is a form of alcohol or drug rehabilitation that allows patients to live at home (or in another safe and therapeutic environment, such as sober living) while still working or going to school. In outpatient rehab, patients typically visit a treatment center, hospital, mental health clinic, or behavioral counselor on a regular basis during specific hours and days of the week.1,3 Some outpatient rehab programs offer evening and weekend sessions, making it easier for patients to balance treatment needs with personal, family and professional responsibilities or obligations.1
There are different levels of intensity of outpatient rehab programs. Outpatient treatment settings can also vary, and may take place in substance abuse treatment centers, community health clinics, mental health clinics, hospital-affiliated clinics, office settings, or residential facilities that provide outpatient clinics.1
Addiction rehab treatment, regardless of whether delivered as inpatient or outpatient, takes into account an individual’s specific needs. Outpatient treatment may consist of several therapeutic interventions and support services, including group and individual counseling, family therapy, education sessions, occupational or recreational therapy, psychotherapy, family therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and other treatment services. Therapies are selected and scheduled based on program availability and the patients’ needs.1,2
In general, outpatient drug or alcohol treatment for recovery from a substance use disorder can be preferable due to its flexibility and reduced expense, and it is generally as effective as the services provided on an inpatient basis. There are several situations where getting treatment as an outpatient may not be the preferred form of care initially, but most individuals in recovery from a substance use disorder will find that they eventually need to transition to outpatient treatment.
Types of Outpatient Rehab
There are different levels of intensity of outpatient rehab, including:1,2,4,5,6
- Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), sometimes referred to as “day treatment.” These programs are equipped with an interdisciplinary team that includes medical and clinical support staff qualified to treat complex or unstable medical and psychiatric conditions, or patients who otherwise require a high level of medical or mental health support but do not need 24-hour supervision. PHP programs typically provide at least 20 hours of highly intensive treatment each week to support patients who need daily (or near-daily) monitoring in a structured setting. Clients will receive treatment for their issues and can return home or to some other living arrangement each night.
- Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). These programs also provide an interdisciplinary team of providers, but with less medical and clinical support than PHPs. Patients typically attend between 9 and 20 hours of treatment weekly. Programs are designed to provide the intensive forms of treatment interventions that individuals typically receive on an inpatient basis but in an outpatient program.
- Standard outpatient programs (OPs). This type of program is designed to help patients focus on achieving changes in behaviors associated with substance use. There are minimal, if any, medical services offered in this level of care (although standard outpatient programs typically link patients to more intensive services as needed). Treatment consists of fewer than 9 hours of treatment each week.
- Florida model. The Florida model is a combination of an inpatient and outpatient treatment program. Clients live in a supervised residential housing center that is separate but connected to a rehab facility instead of actually living in the clinic or hospital.
Patients who don’t require medically managed or monitored 24/7 care typically start at the level that meets their need. Someone who is medically stable with a less severe SUD may start in a standard outpatient program. Others may transition from a higher level of care, such as inpatient treatment or a PHP, to a lower level, such as an intensive outpatient program. Movement is determined by progress in treatment and take into consideration whether a patient is ready to live more independently.1,3,5 Likewise, if someone is attending a standard outpatient program and struggling, a higher level of care intensity may be needed, such as that offered in an IOP, PHP, or inpatient program.5
Outpatient Treatment Services
According to Treating Addiction: A Guide for Professionals, with only a few exceptions (such as specific types of medical procedures and for conditions where individuals need to be monitored around the clock), outpatient drug and alcohol programs can essentially provide the full gamut of treatment services that are provided by residential treatment units. These include:
The Differences Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment
While both inpatient and outpatient rehab programs offer a wide variety of therapies to help patients overcome substance use disorders, there are two main factors that differentiate the two types of programs, such as:
- Where patients reside. When a person attends inpatient rehab, they reside and stay overnight at the rehab facility for the duration of their treatment. Patients attending an outpatient treatment program, on the other hand, typically live at home and travel to the rehab facility to attend scheduled treatment sessions.1,5 Some outpatient facilities offer or can link patients to supportive housing services, should an alternative living environment be necessary.
- The level of medical and clinical management and monitoring. Inpatient programs have the ability to provide 24-hour clinical care and support in addition to community- or group-based recovery services.4,5 These facilities are equipped with the staff and tools needed to care for people with severe substance use disorders or who require medically managed withdrawal or have serious co-occurring medical or mental health conditions.1,5
Do you have questions about outpatient treatment? Our admissions navigators are ready to assist. Call us at
Behavioral Therapies Used in Outpatient Treatment
Both inpatient and outpatient rehab programs may use a variety of therapeutic techniques in treating substance use disorders.2 A patient’s individualized treatment plan will dictate which therapies are used, based on those offered by the treatment program. Common behavioral therapies used in outpatient rehab include:1,2,3,6
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing unhelpful behaviors by teaching and applying coping skills, exploring cravings, avoiding triggers, and identifying and applying alternative coping strategies when faced with high-risk situations, that could lead to relapse.
- Contingency management, which provides small rewards as positive reinforcement for desirable behaviors, such as consistently attending treatment and staying sober.
- Community reinforcement approach plus vouchers, which offers counseling geared toward teaching the skills needed to reduce or stop substance use, improve family and social relationships, and encourage positive, healthy hobbies, as well as using tangible incentives that increase in value as reinforcement of positive behaviors.
- Motivational enhancement therapy, which can help you overcome mixed feelings about sobriety and treatment. Counseling will help you increase motivation and confidence in your ability to make positive changes and develop better coping skills.
- The matrix model, which provides education about substance use disorders and recovery, encourages participation in self-help meetings, and promotes sobriety through teaching relapse prevention skills, offering social support in group settings, and offering family counseling sessions.
- Twelve-step facilitation therapy, which incorporates key strategies from Alcoholics Anonymous-style self-help/mutual help support groups into individual and group counseling, as well as encourages participation in 12-step meetings. This helps you build a sober support network and can help you remain abstinent.
- Family behavior therapy, which involves the family or at least one significant other also in counseling, allowing a variety of issues to be addressed in the home environment in addition to substance use. These can include family relationships, mental health disorders, vocational problems, and concerns about the care and treatment of children within the household. Sessions require family members to participate and may offer rewards when goals are met.
Benefits of Outpatient Treatment
For patients where outpatient treatment meets their needs, it also offers benefits over inpatient treatment:
- Greater flexibility of scheduling, generally allowing patients to attend treatment when it is more convenient for them, allowing for little or no disruption in their normal responsibilities at home, work, or school.1,2
- Outpatient treatment typically costs less which sometimes also means a person might receive treatment over a longer duration of time, which may increase the chance of successful treatment outcomes.2,5,6
- Patients have the opportunity to apply the skills they learn in treatment immediately in their home setting or other living environment while still having the support and feedback of their treatment staff team and recovering peers.5
Challenges of Outpatient Treatment
Outpatient rehab can also pose some challenges compared with inpatient treatment, including:
- Managing complex medical or psychiatric needs. People who have substance use disorders may also have co-occurring mental health disorder or other medical conditions, and although outpatient programs typically can link patients to more intensive levels of medical and psychiatric care, not every program is capable of coordinating care to the level that a person might require. For these individuals, a co-occurring disorder program, like an inpatient program specializing in depression treatment, may be best.1,2
- Since attending scheduled sessions is a requirement, not having access to reliable transportation can make it difficult to attend outpatient treatment.1,3
Cost of Outpatient Treatment
A multitude of factors will affect the cost of outpatient treatment, such as the location, the facility, insurance coverage, level of care, length of care, and other services.
That said, the following are general estimates for outpatient treatment:
- Partial hospitalization: $350-$450 per day (private pay rate without insurance)
- Intensive outpatient care: $250-$350 per day
The following are estimates for detox and inpatient care:
- Supervised medical detox: $500-650 per day (private pay rate)
- Inpatient care in a rehab center: $500-$650 per day (private pay rate)
Does Insurance Cover Outpatient Rehab?
If you have insurance, it may cover outpatient care. If you don’t have private insurance, you may qualify for public insurance programs, such as Medicaid or Medicare. In addition, plans offered through the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) are required to cover substance abuse and mental health services to the same extent that they cover medical needs.
There are various payment options available to those looking to fund their outpatient rehab attendance. For example, American Addiction Centers is in-network with various insurance companies and accepts many insurance policies from both private and publicly-funded healthcare coverage providers. Sometimes, you will be able to attend a free rehab center that is either completely covered by your insurance or publicly funded. To find out more about whether your rehabilitation may be partially or fully covered with American Addiction Centers, fill in your information in the form below.
Find Outpatient Drug & Alcohol Rehab Near Me
American Addiction Centers has rehab centers scattered across the United States. Learn more about our drug and alcohol rehab facilities.
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2014). What is substance abuse treatment? A booklet for families. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4126. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (third edition).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: Treatment approaches for drug addiction.
- American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2021). About the ASAM Criteria
- McCarty, D., Braude, L., Lyman, D.R., Dougherty, R.H., Daniels, A.S., Ghose, S.S., & Delphin-Rittmon, M.E. (2014). Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs: Assessing the evidence. Psychiatric Services, 65(6), 718-726.
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Substance abuse: Clinical issues in intensive outpatient treatment. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 47.) Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2009). Integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders: Building your program. DHHS Pub. No. SMA-08-4366. Rockville, MD: Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- S. Department of Health and Human Services. HIPAA Privacy Rule and sharing information related to mental health.