How Long Does Outpatient Treatment Last?

Outpatient treatment would be ideal if you have a low risk of substance abuse relapse, a strong support system at home, a mild or relatively new addiction, or already been through an inpatient treatment program. However, research studies now recommend that you spend as long as it takes in such a program to ensure that you do not relapse back to your old habits.

Understanding Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment, as the name suggests, is a type of addiction recovery service where you will not be required to live at the rehabilitation center over the entire duration of your treatment.

However, you will still have to spend a great deal of time at the facility to ensure that you learn the skills that could enable your recovery and prevent your relapse. While enrolled in such a program, to this end, you can still continue living at home.

This effectively means that outpatient treatment can allow you to continue keeping up with your responsibilities and obligations at work, home, and school. Further, you may still be able to meet your other commitments while still receiving treatment for your substance use disorder.

Even though outpatient treatment is considered to be a lower level of care than inpatient treatment, spending enough time in the program could have a bearing on your success rates in the long term.

In fact, research has now found that the duration of time you spend in an outpatient treatment could affect your outcomes from rehabilitation. It could also have an impact on your ability to continue maintaining your recovery after you are done with the program.

Recommended Length of Outpatient Treatment

NIDA - the National Institute of Drug Abuse - reports that the time you spend in a treatment program is important. This is irrespective of the type of addiction rehabilitation program you choose.

This is because the longer you spend in such a program, the higher the likelihood that you will be able to maintain your recovery and abstinence in the long term after you check out of the treatment facility.

The Psychology of Addictive Behaviors journal, for instance, published a report showing that longer retention periods often result in higher chances of achieving recovery in the long term. This is irrespective of whether you are struggling with an alcohol use disorder or a substance use disorder.

That said, most outpatient treatment programs will last anywhere from 1 to 3 months. However, there is a higher chance that you could enjoy more benefits if you spend longer than 3 months in such a program.

Outpatient Treatment Programming

The process taken by your chosen outpatient treatment program will depend on many different factors. For instance, the program will take you through a thorough and intensive assessment to determine your risk of relapse.

After that, the program will develop an unique and highly personalized and individual treatment process for you. By so doing, it would be able to help you develop the tools that you need to reduce and overcome your drug cravings as well as maintain your recovery and abstinence.

Often, many of these programs will apply ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine) criteria to determine the level of care that you will need. This will be based on the extent and degree of your substance use disorder, as well as many other elements.

Today, outpatient treatment is offered in different degrees through:

  • Standard outpatient treatment, which is ideal if you have a relatively low risk of relapse
  • Intensive outpatient treatment, which is considered ideal when your risk of relapse is slightly higher
  • Partial hospitalization programs that are suitable if you are diagnosed with the highest risk of relapse but you can still progress in recovery without receiving residential or inpatient treatment

Additionally, the course of your outpatient treatment will also include many different rehabilitation sessions and services. They will be facilitated and provided by highly experienced and qualified addiction treatment experts, such as peer organizers, counselors, and doctors. These services include but are not limited to:

  • Educational sessions to reduce your risk of relapse, as well as improve your understanding of issues linked to drug and alcohol abuse and addiction
  • Involvement in 12-step programs and group meetings
  • Peer support and informational sessions to improve your accountability and motivation for full, long term recovery
  • Therapy and counseling sessions to improve your abstinence skills

Outpatient Addiction Recovery

If you are dedicated to complete the entire course of treatment required by an outpatient rehabilitation program, there is a high probability that you will be able to achieve full recovery through this type of program.

Recovery might also be ideal through outpatient treatment if you have already been through an inpatient treatment program but are not yet ready to go back to your normal daily life without receiving additional structured treatments.

That said, outpatient rehab is like any other type of treatment in the sense that its ability to help you achieve full sobriety will largely depend on your determination and motivation to overcome your substance use.

Through a research based program, you can get started on the road to recovery. In the long run, this could prove useful in helping you make your future more productive and free of all intoxicating and mind altering substances.

Duration of Outpatient Treatment

As we mentioned earlier, the program that you choose could prove to be successful but only if you have a high willingness to change. Outpatient treatment is different from inpatient drug rehab in the sense that you will not be required to live at the recovery facility. Instead, you will have to travel to the rehab center for your treatment sessions.

Most people spend an average of 10 weeks in these recovery programs. However, many outpatient treatment programs will provide you with a step-down approach in your attendance.

This effective means that you will receive the most intensive stages of your treatment during the first couple of weeks or months of your engagement. After that, your engagement will be tapered off when and as required.

Depending on the situation you find yourself in, you can be sure that the total number of treatment sessions that you will be require to participate in will charge with time. Additionally, the duration of these sessions will keep varying as you progress in recovery.

For instance, if your substance use disorder is considered to be severe, you should attend treatment for several days every week for a couple of hours every day. This would be the case if you were enrolled in an IOP or an intensive outpatient program.

As your condition improves, you might only have to travel to the center a couple of times every week. During these visits, your treatment will take place for about a hour or even two.

While considering outpatient treatment, you should keep in mind that the duration of your program will vary based on many different factors. For instance, if you have a more severe addiction or have been diagnosed with a relatively high risk of relapse, you may have to spend longer in the treatment program.

The duration of treatment will also be based on the kind of outpatient treatment program that you have chosen. Consider the following:

a) Partial Hospitalization Programs

This programs will not require that you stay in the treatment center. However, you will have to check into the facility for daily recovery sessions. These sessions could last for several hours.

Most partial hospitalization programs will last for several weeks, or months. However, they will be tapered off as you start making progress in your addiction recovery and rehabilitation.

b) Intensive Outpatient Programs

IOPs are recommended if you are struggling with a relatively high risk of relapse and mild to moderate substance use disorder. The program will most probably end up lasting anywhere between 3 and 4 months. However, it might be longer based on your progress in recovery.

c) Outpatient and Aftercare Programs

After you have been through the types of outpatient treatment programs listed above - or even an inpatient recovery program - you may check into a regular outpatient treatment program.

After that, you can continue receiving rehabilitation services for several months or even for a year, or more. At the same time, you might have to continue participating in other aftercare programs, such as staying in sober or transitional living facilities, attending addiction support group meetings, and more.

Timeline of Outpatient Treatment

Most outpatient treatment programs are the same. Irrespective of the time you will spend in such a program, to this end, you may receive the same types of treatment methods and recovery services. The following is the typical timeline for most of these programs:

  • Screening, evaluation, and assessment
  • Outpatient detoxification
  • Psychological treatments
  • Behavioral treatments
  • Aftercare programming
  • Referrals to other treatment and recovery services

Most of the time you spend in these outpatient treatment programs will involve psychotherapy sessions. This means that you will be require to spend a couple of hours every week in group and individual therapy. Depending on your particular needs and requirements, as well as on the specific type of program you choose, this type of treatment could last for several weeks to a couple of months. However, it might also go for longer than this.

Overall, the duration of outpatient treatment will vary based on many different factors. It is important that you speak to an addiction treatment professional for more information on how long you can expect to spend in such a program.

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https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-long-does-drug-addiction-treatment

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