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Outpatient Rehab Programs

Outpatient rehab programs can serve as an effective and flexible option for those seeking treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD). In particular, outpatient programs can be beneficial for those who have completed inpatient or residential treatment and are searching for a less rigorous addiction treatment program going forward as they transition into sober living.

The type of outpatient treatment will vary greatly depending upon your treatment goals and medical needs. However, there are generally three types of outpatient treatment that can be further specialized:

  • Standard Outpatient Programs (OPs).
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs).
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs).

Outpatient rehab programs can be ideal for people with jobs, children, school responsibilities, and strong social support.1 Outpatient rehab can occur in different settings, including hospitals, clinics, or the private offices of physicians, therapists or other licensed mental health professionals. Understanding the intricacies of outpatient treatment, and how to find outpatient treatment near you can help you start or continue your journey to recovery.

Standard Outpatient Programs (OPs)

A standard outpatient rehab program allows patients to live at home (or in a sober living facility) with little disturbance to their other responsibilities like school or work. In a standard outpatient program, patients visit their rehab center or addiction counselor for a specific number of hours throughout the week. There are minimal, if any, medical services offered in this level of care.2,3 Most treatment consists of less than 9 hours of therapy per week.4

Outpatient programs may involve different treatments, including individual and group counseling, family therapy, relapse prevention sessions, recreational therapy, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and other treatment services. Like other addiction treatment settings, outpatient programs  consider each patient’s individual needs.2 Those with a mild SUD may start in a standard outpatient program. Others may transition from a higher level of care, such as an inpatient or residential program or a more intensive outpatient program, such as an IOP or PHP. Transitioning from one level of care to another is determined by progress in treatment and your doctor’s or therapist’s discretion.5

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

IOPs treat those who do not require 24-hour supervision. They provide structured treatments that correspond to each patient’s needs. Group and individual counseling, family therapy, and psychoeducation about substance abuse are some of the services offered in this setting.6

Intensive outpatient programs are more involved than a standard outpatient program and can be an appropriate entry point into treatment for individuals with multidimensional instability but who cannot attend a live-in facility. They may also be appropriate for individuals with substance use disorders who have been discharged from an inpatient or residential program but who still need more support than that provided in traditional outpatient care. Likewise, someone in a standard outpatient program may “step up” from a traditional outpatient program if they require more intensive treatment. IOPs have traditionally been used for those that still require intensive or near-daily monitoring in a structured setting to prevent relapse.6 Although patients are allowed to live at home or a sober living facility, like in other outpatient programs, they are required to visit their treatment center for a minimum of 9 hours of treatment per week.4

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHPs)

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) delivers at least 20 hours of treatment per week and provides more intensive care than an IOP, but still allows patients to return home or go to a sober living facility each night after treatment. These programs are typically equipped with an interdisciplinary team that can provide medical and psychiatric support for patients with co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions but who don’t need 24-hour supervision.7 PHPs are usually based in a hospital, a standalone psychiatric facility or a community mental health center. 4

PHPs can be an option for patients who no longer require the 24-hour care of inpatient treatment or who require more intensive care than IOPs or standard OPs. 9

Benefits of Outpatient Rehab Services

For patients where outpatient treatment is appropriate, there are some aspects that may be perceived as more advantageous than inpatient or residential treatment:

  • Greater flexibility. Outpatient treatment allows the patient to attend treatment at more convenient hours, having very little or no disruption in their responsibilities at school, work, or home.2,3
  • Affordability. Compared to inpatient, outpatient rehab services are more affordable, which may help people stay in treatment longer.10
  • Ongoing support. Counselors, treatment staff, and recovering peers can help patients start applying the skills they’ve learned in treatment to their home settings or other living environments.6

Outpatient treatment services are often used as a follow-up to inpatient or residential rehab. They are also an effective option for people who have already been to rehab before but are looking for additional professional support and guidance to continue their recovery process, particularly after a relapse.5

How to Choose the Right Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Treatment

The best drug rehab programs offer comprehensive treatment services to handle the full spectrum of substance use disorders. When seeking a drug and alcohol treatment program, here are some things to consider:

  • Your individual rehab goals and needs. This could include treatment for underlying medical conditions, dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorders you wish to have treated at the same time.
  • The level of care provided. The intensity and schedule of treatment will depend on one’s needs.
  • Any treatment specialties. Such as treatments focusing on a specific substance or treatments, particularly for individuals with dual diagnosis.
  • Nearby facilities are perfect for outpatient settings because of their convenience.
  • The length of the program. Some might be shorter than others and require less of a commitment than others.

Other factors to look for when evaluating potential treatment facilities include:

  • Individualized treatment plans.
  • Client testimonials.
  • Relapse prevention education.
  • Clear aftercare plans.
  • Payment options.
  • Use of evidence-based treatments.
  • Minimal levels of therapy per week.
  • A range of treatment modalities.
  • Long-term support.

Overall, the best outpatient program should support patients throughout the program. It should attend to a patient’s individual needs and progress through comprehensive addiction treatment services. The way to find the best treatment option for you and what type of facility best matches your rehab goals is to consult with a medical professional. They can help discuss available treatment options, specify the differences between the levels of care, and connect you with rehab programs in your area.

Finding Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Treatment Near Me

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs can offer an effective, personalized approach to substance use disorder treatment, especially for patients still requiring treatment but for whom the intensity of inpatient or residential treatment is no longer appropriate. These programs can benefit people with mild to moderate SUDs with a low risk of severe withdrawal symptoms and a strong support system. Individuals motivated to attend treatment with a stable living situation may be ideal candidates for the various levels of care offered in outpatient settings, even if they have co-occurring mental health disorders.1

Speaking with a medical provider can help you find an outpatient treatment center in your area. They can also guide you in determining which level of care – standard outpatient, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient – is the best one for you and your needs.

There are many ways to find an outpatient rehab facility near you. American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of medical detox services with facilities across the nation, making it easy to find a local outpatient treatment facility that provides effective rehab services for you or your loved one. We operate a 24/7 rehab and detox hotline that can walk you through the treatment process, help connect you with the right facilities, and answer any questions other questions.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Types of Treatment Programs.
  2. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2014). What is substance abuse treatment? A booklet for families. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4126. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: Treatment approaches for drug addiction.
  4. American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2021). What are the ASAM levels of care?
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (third edition).
  6. McCarty, D., Braude, L., Lyman, D.R., Dougherty, R.H., Daniels, A.S., Ghose, S.S., & Delphin-Rittmon, M.E. (2014). Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs: Assessing the evidence. Psychiatric Services, 65(6), 718-726.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide: Treatment Settings.
  8. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). TIP 45: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.
  9. American Psychiatric Association. (2010). Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Substance Use Disorders: Second Edition.
  10. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Substance abuse: Clinical issues in intensive outpatient treatment. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 47.) Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
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