outpatient rehab

Outpatient addiction treatment programs are a widely used option for individuals in need of help to overcome a substance use disorder. Outpatient rehabs allow the person the freedom to continue to engage with work, family, and friends while enrolled in the program. The outpatient option is appropriate for those with an emerging or short-lived addiction history, offering a well-rounded program of treatment elements that also provides the flexibility to reside at home. For individuals with a long-term addiction, the inpatient rehab program option would be a better fit for their needs.

About Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient addiction treatment is exactly what the name implies—a recovery program that allows the person to remain living at home while in treatment. This option can make the difference between someone getting the help they need or forgoing treatment altogether because they cannot take an extended leave from work or family obligations.

An outpatient program is less intensive than an inpatient rehab, but usually lasts for a much longer duration, with programs ranging from 3 months to a year. Outpatient rehabs treat a wide array of substance use disorders, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Prescription opioids
  • Opiates (heroin, morphine)
  • Methamphetamine
  • Benzodiazepine
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Synthetic drugs

Outpatient addiction treatment encompasses various therapies and psychoeducation efforts that will help clients reach their recovery goals. Generally, individuals begin with the more intensive programming and, over time upon reaching recovery benchmarks, reduce intensity.

Different Levels of Intensity in Outpatient Rehab

One of the attributes of outpatient rehab is the ability to tailor a program to the individual’s specific needs. After a careful evaluation during the intake process the clinical staff will determine the best level of intensity to meet the person’s recovery needs. Some of the considerations before assigning the appropriate level of care include the person’s substance use history (how long and how much, relapse history), whether there is a coexisting mental health issue, and court-mandated attendance requirements. The levels of intensity include:

  • Day treatment (or partial hospitalization program, PHP). This represents the highest level of intensity for outpatient programming. Individuals will participate in several hours of therapeutic activities 5-7 days a week. While at this level of intensity, the individual will likely need to modify their work schedule to accommodate the program.
  • Intensive outpatient program, IOP. The IOP is the most commonly utilized type of outpatient addiction treatment. During the length of the program, the individual will participate in 9-12 hours of therapy per week. Some rehabs provide evening sessions to provide flexibility in scheduling.
  • Continuing care outpatient therapy. This option is an excellent option for individuals who have completed the outpatient or inpatient program, or for individuals who may have recently relapsed. This basic outpatient therapy consists of individual or group therapy involving about two hours per week.

Outpatient recovery programs come in many different forms. There are various treatment philosophies that undergird the programs. Some are based on A.A.’s 12-step program, where others may use an alternative philosophy. Some of the niche outpatient programs include:

  • Faith-based programs. Some rehabs are centered around a specific faith belief. This provides clients with a sense of familiarity and shared values with others they will be interacting with.
  • Gender specific programs. While most outpatient programs are co-ed, some are gender specific. This can eliminate distractions during rehab, and also may allow participants to feel more comfortable sharing in group sessions.
  • Luxury programs. These programs tend to resemble a high-end spa resort, embedding various amenities into the program. These are usually located in a highly desirable geographic locale, and provide top tier facilities.
  • Holistic programs. The holistic outpatient rehabs integrate various experiential or holistic activities into their programming. These activities might include yoga classes, mindfulness meditation training, massage therapy, and acupuncture.
  • Couples programs. The outpatient program for couples provides an opportunity for both members of a relationship or marriage attend therapy together. This can help encourage mutual support and a joint commitment to recovery goals.

Outpatient programs may offer special services, such as transportation to 12-step meetings, legal assistance, case management, and job skills preparation.

Treatment Elements

Although there is a spectrum of different types of outpatient rehab programs available, most will incorporate best industry practices to assure that quality controls and legal protections are adhered to. The core treatment elements found at most outpatient programs includes:

Individual psychotherapy. One-on-one talk therapy is a core element in addiction recovery treatment. Individual therapy allows the individual to work with a therapist alone, allowing for honest exploration of underlying emotional issues or other environmental factors to be resolved and healed. Some individuals might have a history of abuse or childhood neglect. Some may have formed dysfunctional attachments. Others may be dealing with grief and loss, while still others may have recently gone through a divorce or other destabilizing life event. Therapy can also help clients identify thought distortions that have led to the cycle of substance abuse, allowing them to work with the therapist to reframe those negative thoughts. The most common types of evidence-based therapy used in outpatient rehab include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • Short-term psychodynamic therapy
  • Prolonged exposure therapy
  • Solutions-focused therapy

Group therapy. Gathering as small groups to discuss the various challenges, successes, fears, and missteps during recover is a valuable asset in addiction treatment. A clinician or psychotherapist, who guides the discussion and topics while encouraging participation among the members, leads these groups. The idea behind group therapy is to offer participants an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the substance use disorder through discussion with others. The small groups provide a sense of mutual support among the participants, and also opportunities to form lasting friendships.

Education. A basic function of an outpatient addiction treatment program is educating clients about how substance use can result in addiction or chemical dependency. This knowledge can help them as they move forward in recovery, acting as a kind of deterrent to recurrent drug or alcohol use. During the addiction education classes, individuals are introduced to relapse prevention planning. While creating a plan for avoiding relapse they will be equipped with various recovery tools and techniques to help them manage triggers.

Medication-assisted treatment, MAT. Depending on the substance of abuse and the severity of the problem, some individuals may benefit from medication in recovery. MAT involves the use of certain drugs, such as Vivitrol or Suboxone, that can help the individual stabilize in recovery. The medications help to reduce drug or alcohol cravings, which results in reduced desire to use the substance, therefore fewer relapses. These medications are closely monitored and only prescribed alongside psychotherapy.

Other services. Case management might include other support services, such as medical detox programs, assisting the individual with acquiring other social services, sober living housing resources, or legal assistance.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab offers a less expensive alternative to inpatient treatment. It also provides flexibility in scheduling, allowing the client to continue to earn a living, attend school, or care for their family while receiving treatment. Another benefit of an outpatient program is the ability to have the support of friends and family accessible. Outpatient rehab programs are an excellent treatment option for individuals with an emerging or fairly undeveloped substance use disorder.

Outpatient programs are not for everyone, however. Individuals who have a more entrenched addiction will be tempted to access the substance. Outpatient rehabs do not protect the individual from exposure to drugs and alcohol like an inpatient program does. By having the freedom to hang out with people that may not be supportive of one’s recovery efforts, the temptation to engage in substance use is difficult to ignore. An inpatient program offers 24/7 monitoring and support, substantially reducing the risk of substance use.

Lifestyle Changes that Reinforce Recovery

It is a fact that drug and alcohol abuse can take a significant toll on one’s health. Many individuals seeking help for an addiction have acquired some degree of nutritional deficiency, may have a weakened immune system, and are physically out of shape. In recovery, not only is the body healing but the brain is also attempting to restore itself to a healthy state. Together, lifestyle changes that involve diet, nutrition, and exercise will play a role in returning to optimum health. These efforts also help to battle depression and anxiety, as well as improve self-esteem and confidence.

  • Getting physically stronger not only helps improve overall fitness levels, but also promotes self-confidence. Regular exercise increases the feel-good brain chemicals—endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, and norepinephrine—improving mood in addition to all the physical benefits. Improved sleep quality, a more positive mindset, and increased energy are all associated with regular exercise.
  • Managing cravings can be aided by proper nutrition. Choosing foods that help promote steady blood sugar levels will help normalize insulin and leptin, hormones that regulate hunger. Foods that improve digestion will increase absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, which help reduce cravings as well. Supporting brain health by eating enough lean protein assists the neurotransmitters associated with reward and wellbeing.
  • Engaging in holistic activities, such as yoga and meditation. So much of addictive behavior involves checking out of reality and using the substance to achieve a kind of numb detachment. In sobriety, it is helpful to practice techniques like yoga, mindfulness meditation, and journaling to redirect consciousness toward both spiritual awareness and living in the present reality.

How to Avoid Relapse

Guarding your newfound sobriety after completing an outpatient program will require constant vigilance. Recovery involves a lifetime commitment, not only to sobriety but to recognizing the signs that recovery is threatened. In most cases, a relapse does not just suddenly occur. Instead, there are several red flags that indicate a relapse is near. Get to know the signs, and proactively resist the relapse by taking actionable steps.


The warning signs of relapse include:

  • Increasing stress levels
  • Experiencing a stressful life event or events
  • Withdrawing socially
  • Returning to former habits
  • Lack of attendance at recovery meetings
  • Hanging out with those you associated with while in active addiction
  • Romancing addiction
  • Beginning to believe you can have just one drink or one hit

What to do to Avoid Relapse?




Adhere to your aftercare plan:

  • Go to meetings
  • Go to weekly therapy
  • Consider sober living housing

Follow you relapse prevention plan to a “T”

  • Revisit your list of potential triggers and avoid them
  • Review your recovery goals, remind yourself of the consequences of relapse
  • Practice your recovery tools
  • Review your plan of action when cravings threaten recovery
  • Have someone with whom you can talk to openly about struggles
  • Practice stress-reduction activities, such as meditation, massage, yoga
  • Establish healthy habits, have a regular sleep schedule, maintain personal hygiene, get up early and be productive
  • Build a strong social network
  • Set new goals and work toward achieving them

Finding help for a substance use disorder at an outpatient rehab can be a life-altering, and life-affirming decision. Put yourself on the recovery path to wellness by enlisting the help and guidance of an outpatient treatment program.

Next Level Recovery Outpatient Rehab Near Salt Lake City

Next Level Recovery offers a comprehensive addiction recovery program, including outpatient programming, near Salt Lake City. At Next Level Recovery, our dedicated clinical team is ready to guide you back to a life of purpose and wellness. By first designing a fully customized treatment plan that is aligned with your personal recovery objectives, the staff at Next Level Recovery will partner with you as you learn new important coping skills that will help you remain firmly on the path to a long-term recovery. If a co-occurring mental health condition is involved, our dual diagnosis treatment team is able to assist with helping you manage those symptoms while you continue on with addiction treatment. Our team is here to advise you about your treatment options. Call us today at (888) 759-5846.