Drug and alcohol addiction outpatient rehab: Your complete guide

Tuesday, April 12, 2016 | By JP Emerald Coast

Admitting you have a problem with drug and alcohol addiction is the first step to getting better. Drug and alcohol addiction involves shame and embarrassment, so reaching out for help can be extremely difficult. It takes a lot of strength and courage to realize that you are not able to handle the situation on your own and that you need help. Addiction is a strong force that no one overcomes without help, so you are doing the right thing in reaching out.

Treatment means different things at different facilities, whether the program offered is based on the residential or outpatient rehab model. At some facilities, the aim is to get patients on an ongoing regimen of remedial medicine and therapy; while at other facilities, patients are subject to a treatment that spans a select number of weeks or months. In certain programs, the emphasis is solely on drug abstinence; whereas other programs will focus on a range of areas in a patient’s life, such as his or her familial relationships, daily habits, line of work, and overall mental well being.

When choosing a rehab center, the addicted individual is often looking for an expressway to sobriety. For the vast majority of patients, however, this is an unrealistic expectation due to the complexities and deep–rootedness of hard drug and alcohol addiction. In most cases, it takes more than just days or even weeks to conquer drug and alcohol addiction on the mental and physical levels. Whether you end up selecting an outpatient drug rehab center or live–in facility, it’s crucial to be informed of the various treatment methods and models — as well as scams to avoid and basic facts that loved ones must know — in order to make a sound decision.

Surrendering to a sense of powerlessness and a hope for a better way of life can be highly emotional, and involves a lot of big decisions. Asking for help is the first step. The next step is deciding where to get that help. Addiction is a complicated concept and treatment centers — because of their confidential nature — can seem shrouded in secrecy.


In recent decades, there has been a boom in the number of drug and alcohol addiction treatment facilities available. While they used to be restricted to certain parts of the country — and reserved for the wealthy — today there is at least one facility in almost every community. In fact, in 2014 there were more than 14,000 addiction treatment centers in the US. With 2.5 million people getting treatment for addiction, and many more who need treatment, you are not alone.



Choosing the right outpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment center is an important part of your decision to get clean. Treatment can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, and the costs vary greatly. When you are ready to invest the time and money into your future, you want to be sure it is a wise investment. Overcoming your addiction is one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. You’ll want to consider several variables in your choice.

How Serious is Your Condition?

Some people who suffer from addiction might think they have a nuance that can be overcome by going to a few group meetings or skipping happy hour during the week. Admitting the severity and reality of addiction can be difficult, because it presents differently in everyone and some of the side-effects are more seemingly benign.

But addiction is a serious, life-threatening challenge no matter how it manifests itself. Just because you haven’t noticed the effects of your addiction on your physical health, does not mean the situation won’t escalate. Addiction does not resolve itself over time; it requires serious attention to overcome.


As long as your physical health is easily managed by your primary care physician and you do not require hospitalization, now is a good time to focus on reforming your substance abuse and improving your health. If you are still able to work and can function reasonably well in your home environment, outpatient addiction treatment is a good choice for you. Now is the time.

Why Choose Outpatient Treatment?

There are several advantages to outpatient treatment. The first one is cost. Because you do not stay overnight or eat your meals at outpatient centers, they are generally less expensive to attend. Many inpatient facilities are luxurious, but they can also be cost-prohibitive.

Outpatient rehabilitation also keeps you in your home environment and works with the elements of your existing life. Addiction affects every aspect of life, from careers to relationships. An outpatient program addresses all of these challenges head-on and helps to rebuild a healthy life free of substances.

While you are in an outpatient rehabilitation program, you continue to work and participate in family and other social responsibilities. This is especially important if you are the sole provider for yourself or your family. In this way, your career doesn’t have to get put on hold while you are working your recovery program. In some cases, it is possible to continue fulfilling your regular responsibilities without your boss or co-workers even knowing you are recovering from addiction.

If you have a loved one going through addiction recovery, an outpatient program allows you to stay involved with the process. Addiction recovery is difficult, and no one gets through it alone. The support of family and friends is a necessary component of any successful recovery. When your family member attends an outpatient program, they come home every night and begin right away at applying the strategies and strengthening familial relationships.

Another advantage to outpatient rehabilitation programs is the lack of a dramatized homecoming, which can involve high levels of stress and expectation. Transitioning home is often the first major obstacle to a lasting recovery. With outpatient programs, your loved one has lived at home through the entire process and the family has gradually become accustomed to their new clean lifestyle and behaviors. There are no surprises.

What is Included in an Outpatient Rehab Center?

The difference between inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers has been likened to that of day camp and sleep-away camp. At an outpatient rehabilitation center you will have the same access to staff and programs that you would at an inpatient rehabilitation program. Depending on the center you choose, these programs can include individual counseling, group therapy and family counseling. Some have education programs geared toward rebuilding a healthy lifestyle, such as yoga, tai chi, cooking classes and nutrition guides. The staff works as a team to coordinate and reevaluate your program on a regular basis.


What are Signs of a Good Outpatient Center?

There are certainly things to look for when considering an outpatient rehabilitation center for yourself or a loved one. Although there are many similarities between the various facilities out there, there are some distinct differences. A good outpatient center will include:

Flexible Schedule of Programs

When you attend an outpatient rehabilitation program, you continue to work and maintain some of your home and family responsibilities. This can require careful scheduling. Attending an outpatient programs can be likened to enrolling in a night school — classes have to be offered at times when it is convenient for you to attend, otherwise you will not benefit from the program. Your program should be designed around your individual needs, not the open slots in your calendar.

Frequent Contact with Program Director

A good outpatient program will include scheduling frequent visits to your program director. In order to accomplish this, the client to staff ratio must remain low. When you are in this type of program, you will have easy access to your program director so you can drop by his office when you are on campus if you have a question or need additional guidance.

Good Communication with Clients

If your loved one is attending an outpatient treatment program, it is important that an all-inclusive line of communication remain open even when they are not on campus. Rehabilitation takes place around the clock, not just during program sessions. You’ll want the staff to reach out to you if a session is missed or something unusual occurs. You should have access to the staff if ever you are in need of guidance or assistance when not at the center.

Outreach Programs

A good outpatient rehabilitation center should have a relationship with other program providers in your area. While the treatment facility is the hub of the addiction recovery program, their offerings can be supplemented by non-recovery activities closer to home when appropriate. In an effort to support your newly developed interest in yoga, for instance, the rehabilitation center might recommend an advanced yoga class taught at your local YMCA.

Treatment Through Nutrition and Exercise

In certain programs, more attention is given to the patient’s mental and physical health; to that end, patients are put on regimens of vitamins and exercise. The idea here is that withdrawal and recovery work best when a patient is placed in situations that are positive, healthy, interactive, and free of mental stress.

Upon arrival at a rehab facility, an addicted patient will typically be of poor physical and mental health due to both malnutrition and drug abuse. Studies of patients at the UMD Medical Center have shown that digestive problems often stem from hardcore opiate use, and that mental illness and anemia often result from a mix of heavy drinking and poor nutrition.

Given the physical and mental aspects of addiction, treatment can only be truly effective when a patient’s nutrition is taken into account. When a program focuses simply on combating the symptoms of an addiction — insomnia, despair, lethargy, impotence, irritability, diminished appetite — treatment can often times lead to a cycle of dependency on sleeping aids, stimulants, antidepressants, and other prescription drugs.

Treatment of the Mind and Soul

When post–treatment sobriety rests on good feelings and willpower alone, the recovering patient’s resolve can be precarious. Upon reentry into everyday life, he or she might encounter the same old temptations once again, whether it stems from work or financial stress, or pressure from friends with drug and alcohol problems. Life could all seem perfect for several months or years after finishing a treatment program, but a sudden series of setbacks could send an ex–patient right back into the clutches of vice.

Patients need to be equipped with skills for dealing with the hard knocks in life. In a lot of cases, a person turns to drugs and alcohol due to an inability to cope with the stresses that often accompany financial hardship, domestic troubles, employment uncertainty, personal grief and insecurity, and negative influences. When a person exits rehab after a regimen of craving suppressants and patient peer support, he or she is unlikely to have gained any coping mechanisms for the types of stress that led to drinking and drug use in the first place.


Removal of Negative Influences

Rehab patients, in general, have a greater susceptibility to drug and alcohol vices than the average person. Therefore, any treatment program that seriously seeks to relieve people of chemical dependency must isolate the environmental factors behind such problems and work at instilling healthier lifestyle habits, mindsets, and coping mechanisms in each patient. Otherwise, the resolve that a patient might develop towards abstaining from drug use could fall by the wayside as the hard knocks of living resume.

What Are Signs of an Outpatient Center to Avoid?

Addiction treatment is a $17 billion industry in the US with growth projections of 3-4% each year for at least the next 10-15 years. While this industrial rise certainly inspires hope in the fight against mental illness and addiction, it also serves as a reminder of a profit motive. Just because a rehabilitation center is in business does not mean it is a viable source of ethical treatment. There are some signs that an outpatient rehabilitation facility might not be a good option for you.

No claims of licensing or accreditation

Like the medical field, the areas of psychology and counseling are strictly regulated in this country. In order to treat clients or perform certain functions, professionals have to be licensed by the state where they live and practice. These licensing requirements can be onerous and take several years to achieve, but they are there to protect the welfare of clients.

When a professional achieves a level of licensure, it is a reflection of invested time and effort, and often that professional will display these credentials. The same is true for facilities that earn accreditations. If the facility you are investigating for yourself or a loved one is not prominently displaying its accreditation and the licenses of its staff, this could be a red flag.

Unrealistic claims

When you start a treatment program, when you finally take that first step, there can be temptation to rush through the program. No one thinks addiction recovery will be fun and it is common to want results as quickly as possible. The average person fighting addiction has been in pain for a long time – they are ready to end that pain and begin living what they perceive to be a normal life once again.

Unfortunately, addiction recovery is not fast and it is not absolute. There is no magic formula that is going to move you past the addiction overnight. Nothing but hard work and perseverance will make your recovery last the rest of your life. There are breakthroughs in addiction recovery methods all the time — and these should certainly be explored — but none of them are going to make the process instantaneous. Any rehabilitation center that claims otherwise may not be telling the truth.


Cookie-cutter approach

Addiction is a complicated concept and everyone’s experience is different. Although there are some commonalities among addiction cases, the key to recovery lies in the differences. There is no one method of treatment that will help everyone. Successful drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs utilize an individualized approach by offering several different treatment options and remaining flexible to change throughout the journey.

Drug and alcohol addiction recovery happens in stages that are not necessarily predictable. As you move through one phase of recovery and achieve a new understanding of yourself and your addiction, the next challenge reveals itself. Prescribing an initial treatment plan that will remain effective for every challenge you encounter along the way is impossible. It is necessary to re-evaluate and adjust your program frequently to get results.

If an outpatient center does not offer multiple treatment modalities or does not have a mechanism for individualizing and adjusting your program, it is not likely to be an effective treatment center.

Treatment Programs: Realistic vs. Fraudulent

Every now and then, rehab centers emerge with wild claims of instant cures for drug and alcohol addiction. One center will claim to cure patients of any and all alcohol cravings with a single, 24–hour hypnosis session, while another program will claim to rid a patient of chemical dependency with a few, brief sessions of shock treatment or aversion therapy. In certain quarters, hallucinogens are being touted as an easy remedy to the human stress mechanisms that lead certain individuals towards addictive behavior.

Sure, some of these programs might yield a couple of success stories per 100 patients, but therein lies the danger. While most of these claims would rightly seem unrealistic to the casual onlooker, they’re the sort of promises that sound tempting to people who’ve struggled with addiction. In most cases, such programs are a wasted investment of financial and emotional resources that only lead to further despair in the likely event of an instant relapse.

For the majority of people who’ve overcome an addiction, recovery has been a process of reversing years of mental, physical, and spiritual damage caused by drugs and alcohol. In most cases, sobriety has been achieved through a mix of craving reduction, morality boosting, and healthy lifestyle restoration. Regimens such as these cannot be completed in a matter of hours or days; it generally takes at least four months of effort and concentration to get on track to a clean and sober, relapse–free lifestyle.

How To Choose A Drug Rehab Center?

When choosing an outpatient treatment center for yourself or a loved one, you want to find the best possible program. The best outpatient facilities offer:

You should be looking for an outpatient facility that is convenient, so you will not be tempted to skip classes or therapy sessions. You want a place that can coordinate every aspect of your rehabilitation and guide you through a lasting recovery. At a good outpatient recovery center you will develop a long-term relationship with your program providers that will remain a source of support and encouragement even after you finish your program.

What Happens Before, During and After Rehab?

Knowing what to expect from a loved one before, during and after their addiction rehabilitation program can help make this difficult journey a little easier. Before beginning a program at an outpatient facility, you may notice an increased anxiety in their behavior. You may have already noticed this, as addiction can change many aspects of a person’s behavior — including their anxiety levels — but as the first day of rehabilitation gets closer, the pressure of starting something new will build.

That anxiety may seem unreasonable to you because, after all, ending the drug and alcohol addiction would be a tremendous accomplishment. But even though someone struggling with addiction may recognize its negative impact on their lives, their substance abuse gives them comfort. Giving that up can be scary.

The unusual behavior and added anxiety should begin to subside a few weeks into the program as your loved one gets comfortable and finds support in the process. However, it is reasonable to expect that their reliability during this time may not be absolute. You’ll need to keep in close communication with them on what is expected of them at home and try to be flexible. They will be dealing with situations and emotions that may take a little extra time to process.

After your loved one completes their program, things will be different. Do not expect them to be exactly the same as they were before treatment. Most recovered addicts discover that there was something problematic in their lives that made them vulnerable to drug and alcohol addiction. Their recovery program includes dealing with those emotions and challenges, so that they can heal.


Things That Loved Ones Need to Know

Rehab programs can basically be divided into two categories: those that see high relapse rates yet treat the problem identically each time, and those that operate on the principle that relapses are preventable when the various factors that feed into addiction are taken into account. Whereas programs in the former category mainly just counsel and prescribe medicines to patients, programs in the latter category take treatment several steps further by helping patients develop coping mechanisms for the challenges in life that can lead to relapse. Therefore, it’s important to ask a prospective rehab center about their philosophy as to whether  drug and alcohol addiction can be sufficiently conquered during the course of a stay.

Given the dangers of false promises, the claims made by a rehab center should sound plausible to the loved ones of patients. Programs that advertise unrealistic claims — however attractive to the chemically dependent — could ultimately jeopardize the esteem and future resolve of people who are struggling to break free of  drug and alcohol addiction.

For loved ones of the chemically dependent, it’s important to know about the rigorous nature of treatment and how it’s generally administered at a rehab facility. Patients undergo various forms of treatment on the road to sobriety, from counseling and labor to confrontational methods and remedial drugs. It’s crucial for a patient’s family to know and understand the nature of treatment forms at a given facility in order to offer consent to such treatments for the person whom they love.

The process of choosing a treatment program for a chemically dependent loved one involves a considerable amount of research. With so many programs and rehab facilities making different claims about how to treat patients, it can be difficult to decide on an option that’s most suited to the personal priorities and emotional state of an addicted offspring, sibling, parent, partner, or friend. For a confident handle on the best options available, people should check for a program’s licensing and accreditation, and also look up online reviews and testimonials on a given facility.

Results of a Good Drug and Alcohol Addiction Outpatient Rehab Program

Since outpatient rehabilitation does not take a person out of their home environment, the results may seem subtle. Each day they will be making incremental changes, and while you will be witnessing these changes, at the end of the program you may have to think back to the beginning to notice the tremendous differences in attitude and behavior. The results of an outpatient program include a life of healthy and predictable routines. Stress and anxiety will be greatly reduced and replaced with a much more positive and upbeat attitude. Emotions should be steady most of the time, with no extreme highs or lows. You may notice an increase in self-care behaviors, including paying more attention to personal grooming, health and fitness.

Outpatient treatment programs help people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction build new lives. They counsel people through difficult emotional journeys and guide them to healthy habits, positive outlooks and substance-free existence.

JourneyPure Emerald Coast: A Comprehensive Approach to Rehab

Have you been struggling with drug and alcohol addiction? Does someone in your family or social circle struggle with these cravings? Are you looking to turn this cycle around and conquer these habits, restore your nutrition, revitalize your life, and wake each day as a sober, happy, productive, and energized person? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” contact JourneyPure Emerald Coast today to learn more about our live–in treatment program.

At JourneyPure Emerald Coast, we utilize experiential therapy for the treatment of substance abuse, dual diagnosis and co-morbid behavioral health challenges. Our outpatient drug and alcohol addiction recovery services include cognitive behavioral therapy, multidimensional family therapy, motivational interviewing, motivational incentives and more. We understand that life can put a lot of pressure on people and sometimes  drug and alcohol addiction is the result. Our outpatient program can teach you specific techniques for coping with stresses, strengthening you for a long, addiction-free life.

Life is too short to be hampered by the physically destroying, mentally impairing, emotionally draining, and financially devastating effects of drug and alcohol addiction. Don’t allow those conditions to overtake your life, career, health, and relationships. Reclaim your life and restore your happiness today by contacting JourneyPure Emerald Coast, where people from all walks of life have come to renew their minds, bodies, and souls at our beautiful facility in Panama City Beach, Florida.

Get Help Now

Learn About

What Makes Emerald Coast Different