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Outpatient Detox for Alcohol and Drugs

Outpatient detoxification (“detox” for short) is an effective and affordable treatment option for some types of substance withdrawal. Outpatient detox at a doctor’s office, clinic, or substance use treatment center can help you or your loved one safely manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

What Is Outpatient Detox?

Many substances can cause physical dependence when used for long periods of time. That is, stopping use causes withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, drug cravings, depressed mood, sleep issues, stomach problems, muscle aches, or bone pains.1–3 Detox centers are equipped to manage these and all the other withdrawal symptoms you may go through.2,4 The goal of detox treatment is to keep you as comfortable and safe as possible while you go through withdrawal.1,2

During outpatient detox, you visit a clinic or office setting for treatment at set times and go home at night.1 By contrast, inpatient detox is more time-intensive, as you live at the detox center for the length of treatment. Inpatient detox may also offer a greater level of medical oversight and care.1,5

Detox is only the first step in your treatment journey. It can help you get through withdrawal, but detox alone doesn’t include the behavioral therapy that will help you learn the skills you need to change your patterns of drug use in the long term.6,7 For the best chance at a full recovery, you’ll need to identify and address the underlying causes of your substance use disorder (SUD).7

Should I Choose Inpatient Detox?

Factors to keep in mind when choosing a detox program to fit your needs include:1,5

The Outpatient Detox Process

Outpatient detox programs offer treatment services at scheduled appointments, while you live offsite in your own home.1,5 Outpatient detox can take place in a doctor’s office, hospital, community clinic, or substance use treatment center. 1

In a typical outpatient drug or alcohol detox program, you and your care team make a treatment plan to meet your specific needs. Your care team may consist of nurses, doctors, counselors, and therapists who consider multiple aspects of your health and substance use to create a personalized detox plan for you, taking into account your:1,5

  • Mental health.
  • Physical health.
  • What substances you use and how often you use them.
  • Relationships.
  • Gender.
  • Age.

Medicines Used in Outpatient Detox

Depending on which substance you were using, your care team may give you medicines to help reduce cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms.2,5,6 It is important to use these medicines exactly as your doctor tells you, and to tell them about any symptoms you have as some can be life-threatening.1,5 Some medicines your care team may prescribe include:1,2,8
Doctor hands patient a bottle of prescription pills to help with withdrawal symptoms.

  • Benzodiazepines (chlordiazepoxide, diazepam, lorazepam) help prevent or manage seizures and other symptoms, especially during withdrawal.
  • Methadone and buprenorphine can ease opioid withdrawal symptoms and control opioid cravings.
  • Clonidine helps reduce some of the distressing symptoms of opioid withdrawal, such as rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.
  • Anti-nausea or anti-diarrheal drugs.
  • Anti-seizure medicines.
  • Sleep medicines.
  • Over-the-counter pain medicines.

How Long Does Outpatient Detox Last?

How long your detox program lasts depends on many factors, including:1,3

  • Which substance(s) you have been using.
  • How long you have been using.
  • How severe your SUD is.
  • Whether or not you have any co-occurring disorders.
  • If you’ve gone through withdrawal before, what type of symptoms you had and how bad they were.

For most people, outpatient detox generally lasts for about a week.8 Treatment lasts long enough to manage symptoms for the duration of withdrawal.8 In some cases, such as benzodiazepine or methadone withdrawal, detox may take longer.8

How to Choose an Outpatient Detox Program

SUDs can affect all areas of a person’s life. Effective treatment doesn’t stop at detox. A comprehensive (complete) outpatient drug rehab program will also help address the negative ways that substance use has impacted you.2,4 It not only gets you through detox but meets your personal treatment needs. This lets you focus on recovery and prevent relapse, or return to substance use.2 Some things to keep in mind when looking for a comprehensive outpatient treatment program that suits your needs are:2,4,7

How Much Does Outpatient Detox Cost?

How much outpatient detox costs depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • Length of treatment.
  • Level of care.
  • Treatment setting.
  • Your insurance plan.

On average, outpatient detox programs may cost less than inpatient programs since you aren’t paying for room and board.

How to Pay for Outpatient Detox

Many treatment centers take insurance, including private insurance and Medicaid. Call your insurance company to find out what they will and won’t cover.

If you don’t have insurance or your plan only covers part of the cost, then it’s important to find out what you will owe and learn about any payment options an outpatient program offers, such as sliding scales or payment plans.


Does your insurance cover outpatient detox?

We can help – check your coverage instantly or text us your questions to find out more.


 Finding Outpatient Detox Near Me

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is one of the country’s leading providers of medical detox for all substances. We have detox centers across the nation, so you can access effective treatment near you, no matter where you are or what substance you’ve been using. To learn more about our programs, call our confidential detox helpline 24/7 at or you can text us. For more options, find your local outpatient detox center using the tool below:


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