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Outpatient Rehab for Drugs & Alcohol: Find Outpatient Addiction Treatment

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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.

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What you will learn:
What is outpatient rehab treatment?
The types of outpatient rehab.
Benefits & cost of outpatient treatment.

Outpatient rehab is a form of substance use 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 addiction 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 drug rehab programs. Outpatient addiction treatment settings can also vary, and may take place in substance use 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 for addiction treatment, and other treatment services. Therapies are selected and scheduled based on program availability and the patient’s 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.

How Does Outpatient Rehab Work?

While the specifics of every outpatient program vary, individuals can expect to participate in a combination of group and individual counseling, substance use disorder education, life skills training, relapse prevention training, and more.1,2 Specifically, outpatient programs may utilize a combination of therapies and other services including:

  • Behavioral counseling and therapy.
  • Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring disorders, such as anxiety and depression.
  • Substance use monitoring.
  • Case and clinical management.
  • Long-term continuing care focused on relapse prevention.

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 treatment sessions 9 to 20 hours each week. Programs are designed to provide the intensive forms of treatment interventions that individuals receive in an inpatient setting 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 needs. 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 IOP. Movement is determined by progress in treatment and takes 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 Addiction 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:

What’s the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab?

couple in therapy

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 dictates 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 an individual overcome mixed feelings about sobriety and treatment. Counseling helps them increase motivation and confidence in their 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 mutual-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 groups and meetings. This helps individuals build a sober support network and can help them 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.

Challenges of Outpatient Drug Rehab

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 disorders 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

How Long Does Outpatient Rehab Last?

The duration of outpatient treatment is dependent on a variety of individual factors, such as the severity of substance misuse, the rate of progress in a treatment program, whether or not they suffer from co-occurring mental or physical health issues, if they’ve relapsed during treatment, and any other factors related to recovery from their substance use.2,5

While programs may have general ranges for the length of treatment, the duration of outpatient treatment is generally flexible and dependent on each patient’s individual needs. These needs are likely to evolve and require adjustment as treatment progresses, and in some cases a person might step down to a less intensive level of treatment or step up to a more intensive level of treatment.2

Cost of Outpatient Treatment

A multitude of factors 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 use 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 (AAC) is in-network with various insurance companies and accepts many insurance policies from both private and publicly-funded healthcare coverage providers. You may also 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 AAC, fill in your information in the form below.

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