For intense physical dependence, inpatient medical detox is usually recommended, but outpatient medical detox can be appropriate in many cases.
With an outpatient detox program, you will visit the treatment facility for a few hours a day, but you will still continue to live outside the facility. Outpatient detox is more flexible than inpatient options.
Outpatient detox is best for people struggling with lower levels of drug dependence. Participants must have a stable, sober home environment. If they don’t, they can reside in a sober living home while they go through outpatient detox and treatment.
How Does Outpatient Detox Work?
Detox helps to rebalance your brain and body physically after your system has become dependent on drugs.
It is not recommended to stop taking many drugs suddenly, or cold turkey, because cravings and withdrawal symptoms can be intense and sometimes even life-threatening.
Detox from alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines can be fatal, Psychology Today warns. Addiction to these substances should be first managed through a medical detox program.
With outpatient detox programs, you will spend a few hours every day at a facility where you receive therapy, counseling, medications, and supportive care in a safe environment. Detox typically lasts about five to seven days on average, and the process can start relatively soon after you stop taking drugs — often within a few hours.
Here are answers to some common questions about outpatient detox:
Where do you detox?
With an outpatient detox program, you will attend sessions for a few hours every day and return home at night. The amount of time you spend at a detox facility is typically related to the level of drug dependence you have and the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms.
What type of supervision is there?
While you are at the detox facility, you can be monitored and supervised. You will usually be evaluated to ensure that you are safe to return home. You will be guided through what to expect in terms of side effects and instructed on how to handle them.
Can outpatient detox programs prescribe medications?
Medications for drug dependence are often administered during detox to control cravings and mitigate withdrawal symptoms. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains that medications for detox can be provided through both inpatient and outpatient programs.
How Much Does Outpatient Detox Cost?
On average, outpatient detox programs cost about $250 to $500 per day. This may or may not include the medications you need to manage your drug dependence. Additional services will usually cost extra.
Do these programs take insurance?
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), substance abuse treatment services, including detox, are often covered (at least partially) by insurance. Generally, detox will need to be classified by a medical professional as “medically necessary” in order to be covered. Outpatient detox facilities often take insurance to cover some of the costs of services.
What is the cost of outpatient detox compared to inpatient detox?
Outpatient detox costs a lot less than inpatient detox since you won’t stay on site overnight.
While exact prices will vary according to the medications you need and other services, expect to pay a lot less for outpatient detox versus inpatient detox.
What Level of Detox Do I Need?
The best way to know how much support you will need during detox is to talk to a medical professional and get an assessment. This way they can determine if you need any form of detox, and if you do, whether outpatient or inpatient medical detox is best for you.
- No detox needed: If you haven’t been using drugs for very long, don’t use them in high doses, and don’t have a high level of drug dependence, you may not need detox services. Some drugs, like hallucinogens, typically don’t cause drug dependence, so it’s unlikely that you’ll experience difficult withdrawal symptoms.
- Outpatient detox: Mild to moderate drug dependence can often be managed through outpatient detox. You will need to have a strong support system in place and a stable home environment for outpatient detox. You also have the option to reside in a sober living home during outpatient detox.
- Inpatient detox: There are signs that you will benefit most from an inpatient detox program.
- You struggle with significant drug dependence and intense withdrawal symptoms.
- You have been using high doses of drugs for a long time.
- You inject drugs.
- You have already tried outpatient detox and suffered a relapse.
- You also struggle with a medical condition or mental illness.
- You do not have a stable living situation or access to a sober living home.
- You battle alcohol, opioid, or benzodiazepine addiction.
- Medication-assisted detox: Medical detox uses medications to balance brain chemistry during detox. If you struggle with addiction to heroin, other opioids, benzos, alcohol, stimulants, mood stabilizers, sleep aids, or barbiturates, medical detox is often necessary.
A medical professional is the best recourse for helping you decide on what level of detox is going to be optimal and safest for you.
Avoiding Relapse After Detox
Detox is an important start to recovery, but it is only the first step, NIDA explains. It should always be paired with an addiction treatment program that can provide a host of services, both therapeutic and supportive, to encourage a long recovery.
Relapse is a common component of addiction with relapse rates averaging around 50 percent, NIDA reports. To minimize relapse, a complete addiction treatment program can provide you with coping skills and tools to manage cravings, recognize triggers, and make positive choices. Treatment builds on the foundation of detox to set a good basis for ongoing sobriety.