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Outpatient Rehabs for Drugs & Alcohol

Last updated on: Friday, 8 March 2024

When searching for outpatient rehab in Canada, it is essential to determine if outpatient care is the best fit. These facilities require the person to attend treatment daily. Outpatient rehabs are usually for people with a mild addiction, who cannot quit work, etc. The danger of it is generally done in someone’s environment, which can easily trigger cravings and have the person relapse.


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Outpatient drug rehab programs are a non-residential therapy-based treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Outpatient drug rehab programs in Canada do not include onsite living or housing arrangements. Individuals participating in these programs are not required to spend their time living at the facility. Instead, patients are living at home and attend treatment daily according to the provided schedule. Outpatient drug rehab is essential a part-time program. During the programs, the patient lives at home and visits the facility daily for specific therapy sessions.

Outpatient drug rehab requires a time commitment as it does not provide around-the-clock care. Outpatient drug rehab programs also operate as intensive outpatient treatment centers. Intensive outpatient programs do not require living at the facility, but it demands more time and attention than a regular outpatient drug rehab program. Intensive outpatient and outpatient drug rehab programs are often a bridge for residential drug rehab.

The biggest difference between outpatient and residential drug rehab is inpatient drug rehab lasts between 28 and 90 days, and the patient lives at the facility. Outpatient drug rehab allows the person to live at their home, and their life continues as usual outside of treatment. Inpatient and outpatient drug rehab programs have strengths and weaknesses. Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs can address the majority of the needs of an individual in recovery and are also less expensive. However, outpatient drug rehab is not the best option for every person. Generally, treatment settings and interventions should meet the needs of the person attending drug rehab.

When Should Someone Consider an Outpatient Drug Rehab Program?

Outpatient drug rehab is not for every person struggling with drug addiction. Outpatient drug rehab should be considered if the person has mild to moderate addiction, a strong support system from family and friends, transportation to attend treatment, motivation to attend sessions, and low-risk withdrawal. Outpatient drug rehab requires a significant commitment and is not for everyone. Outpatient drug rehab may not be a suitable choice for someone who has a severe drug addiction. In addition, if the risk of serious withdrawal symptoms and complications is high, and detox requires medical supervision.

Outpatient drug rehab is an effective option for many people, but not for every form of drug addiction and substance abuse. For clients who have to be monitored for significant withdrawal symptoms, outpatient withdrawal management programs are not the best option. Clients that have toxic home environments and are in an environmental situation that is either potentially dangerous will not benefit someone attending outpatient drug rehab. In addition, individuals who had multiple unsuccessful attempts at recovery and individuals who medical complications or severe mental health disorders may not benefit from outpatient drug rehab.

Overall, outpatient drug rehab programs are generally preferable for people who can maintain their work, school, family, and other important commitments. Outpatient drug rehab programs allow individuals to immediately apply what they have learned and practices in therapy to the real world. Outpatient drug rehab also offers each person more freedom and flexibility than inpatient drug rehab. In addition, outpatient drug rehab allows patients more privacy regarding the individual’s participation in treatment. Programs also provide essentially the same quality of treatment as residential drug rehab and offer interventions that are not available in residential drug rehab.

How Do Outpatient Drug Rehab Programs Operate?

Outpatient drug rehab programs operate the same way as traditional residential drug rehab. When someone is admitted to outpatient drug rehab, they will have to attend detox to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Most outpatient drug rehab programs provide detox on an outpatient basis, but addicts can also arrange medically supervised detox or clinical drug detox. The patient attends treatment daily while they live at home. Generally, treatment programs vary in terms of commitments, and some outpatient drug rehab programs require the patient to attend sessions a few hours a week or several hours per day.

Before the drug rehab program begins, the individual meets with staff to develop a treatment plan. Typically, the plan consists of goals for treatment to make the therapy more effective. Once the treatment plan is established, the person is informed about the rules they are expected to follow and the length of the program they need. Outpatient drug rehab is also an effective aftercare support option. Recovering addicts often continue to attend outpatient drug rehab after they have completed treatment.

There are significant benefits to outpatient drug rehab. The client can maintain their employment; there is no need to be away from the family and home, costs are more acceptable, build a strong support system, and allow people to improve their quality of life. There are different drug rehab programs, including day programs, intensive outpatient programs, and continuing care programs. Some therapies include cognitive behavioural therapy, the matrix model, contingency management, motivational enhancement therapy, and family therapy.

Are there Alternatives to Outpatient Drug Rehabilitation Programs?

Alternatives to outpatient drug rehab are residential drug rehab programs. Inpatient drug rehab provides medical detox, individual therapy, family or couples counselling, addiction education, follow-up care, and referrals to support groups. Residential drug rehab provides 24-hour care to help individuals achieve and maintain recovery from addiction. Programs can offer numerous services that are more likely to help clients develop capabilities and tools to stay in recovery well after leaving the program.

Residential drug rehab programs should be considered if a person is struggling with severe drug addiction and has made multiple attempts at treatment. In addition, when a person requires medical detox or extensive medical supervision, a residential drug rehab program is the best option. Residential drug rehab programs also offer extensive services and provide long-term or short-term drug rehab. Long-term drug rehab with a residential treatment program is the best option for someone with a lengthy history of addiction. The major benefits of residential drug rehab are stability during treatment, being able to focus on your own needs, and having a better chance at long-term recovery.

Ask a Professional

  • What is outpatient drug rehab?

    Outpatient drug rehab requires the client to attend treatment daily while they do not live at the facility during rehabilitation. The client is generally required to attend the facility for a pre-determined amount of time and days each week.

  • How do I know if outpatient drug rehab is right for me?

    Outpatient drug rehab is not for everyone and is generally not the best choice for someone with a long history of addiction or who struggles with chronic relapse. Outpatient drug rehab programs are good options for someone who still works, has family commitments, and whose addiction has not entirely consumed every aspect of their life.

  • What is an intensive outpatient program for drug addiction?

    Intensive outpatient drug rehab is similar to a standard outpatient program, but the client dedicates more time to treatment. In addition, intensive outpatient programs are often used in conjunction with inpatient programs. A traditional outpatient drug rehab program may require the client to attend therapy for two to four hours daily, multiple days a week. An IOP program may require six to eight hours daily, multiple days a week.

  • How long does outpatient drug rehab last?

    An outpatient drug rehab program can generally last three to six weeks or months. It is not uncommon for some patients to attend outpatient drug rehab longer for aftercare support. Each program has a set length of time that is pre-determined for each client.

  • Want to know more?

    The questions from DrugRehab.ca’s “Ask a Professional” are answered by Nickolaus Hayes. If you need further clarification on any of the questions above or have any other questions you can contact him directly at N.hayes@drugrehab.ca.




More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.