Is Outpatient the Right Choice?

An outpatient addiction treatment program is best suited for someone who struggles with mild to moderate addiction, has a stable living situation, and needs flexibility in scheduling.

If the person doesn’t have a stable home environment, they can live in a sober living home while engaging in outpatient treatment.

While in an outpatient program, you may be able to continue working, going to school, and taking care of your family since you can still live at home. You’ll attend sessions for a few hours during the day.

If money is tight, outpatient treatment can be more cost-effective than inpatient programs. Insurance companies often require that you first try outpatient treatment before you can receive coverage for inpatient care.

Whether or not outpatient addiction treatment is right for you depends on the specifics of your situation. The decision should be made in conjunction with your treatment provider after an initial assessment.

Level of Addiction

Addiction is a complex disease that can range in severity from mild to severe, per NIDA. If you struggle with a low level of drug dependence and mild to moderate addiction, you can likely attend outpatient addiction treatment.

The best way to determine your level of addiction — and therefore what kind of treatment will be optimal — is to get an assessment or evaluation from a trained medical professional.

They can help you decide on what level of care is best for you personally based on your history and current situation.

Personal Obligations

You may have personal obligations that you just can’t put on hold to attend a fulltime addiction treatment program.

If you are in school, you may not be able to take a reasonable leave of absence. With an outpatient program, you can often keep going to school. You can schedule your counseling, therapies, and support group meetings and sessions at times that work with your class schedule.

man with child

You may also not be able to get away from work, or the specifics of taking a leave of absence from work may feel too stressful. While your job would be legally protected while you got addiction treatment, you may prefer to not take a leave. With outpatient treatment, you can often continue working while you get addiction treatment.

Outpatient programs offer more flexibility with family obligations, allowing you to be home with your children or partner at night. If you have an elderly relative you care for, you can likely continue with that care during outpatient rehab. It’s easier to find childcare or other care for family members for the shorter treatment windows involved with outpatient rehab than it is to find fulltime care while you are in an inpatient program.

A Sober and Stable Home Environment

In order for outpatient addiction treatment to be a consideration, you will need to make sure that you have a supportive and safe home environment. Your loved ones will need to respect what you are doing and be willing to help you reach your goals.

Drug abuse is often linked to stress, as Psychology Today reports that stress can often contribute to drug use and relapse. A stable living environment that is free from as much temptation as possible is key when attending outpatient treatment services.

If you don’t have this type of home environment, it doesn’t meant that outpatient addiction treatment is off the table.

A sober living home can be a great add-on to outpatient treatment if your living situation isn’t ideal.

A sober living home is a safe environment with strict house rules about sobriety. Residents are often all engaged in some form of outpatient addiction treatment. This means they will understand exactly what you are going through and can provide you with valuable support.

More Cost-Effective

If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on treatment services, an outpatient program may appeal to you due to the lower cost. Generally, outpatient addiction treatment services cost about $250 to $500 per day as opposed to residential treatment, which is often double that.

An outpatient program usually runs about $1,400 on average, though they can cost up to $10,000, while an inpatient program can range from $4,000 to $120,000 for a private luxury facility.

Outpatient addiction treatment programs are cost-effective. Since you only pay for the hours you are attending sessions, they are far less expensive than residential programs where you live on the premises.

In addition, you are able to keep working and earning money while attending outpatient treatment, which is usually not the case for an inpatient program.

The Insurance Requirement of Trying Outpatient Services First

While insurance often covers at least some of the costs of addiction treatment per the Affordable Care Act (ACA), providers may have a “fail first” policy. This means that they will require you to try outpatient treatment services before they will cover inpatient treatment.

insurance rules

Check with you insurance provider to find out what level of care your plan covers and how service coverage works. You may need a referral to treatment or prior authorization before attending treatment. In addition, addiction treatment may need to be deemed medically necessary for coverage to kick in.

Your insurance provider can guide you through your specific plan and coverage options. Treatment providers are good resources as well.

After a Structured Treatment Program

If you have already attended an addiction treatment program and are looking for additional aftercare and support services, outpatient treatment services can be crucial. Since addiction has a high relapse rate of 40 to 60 percent, per NIDA, aftercare is an important aspect of recovery.

For outpatient aftercare services, you may attend ongoing:

  • Educational programs.
  • Support groups.
  • Alumni programs.
  • Relapse prevention workshops.
  • Group and individual counseling and therapies.

Alumni, aftercare, and outpatient treatment services can help to sustain abstinence, as they offer continuing support in recovery.

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