Last updated: 12 February 2024 & medically reviewed by Hailey Shafir
Outpatient rehab and treatment can be a good choice for people who are ready to get help with a substance use disorder, are not in the severe stage of addiction, and who need the flexibility that an outpatient program can offer.
- Those at the mild to moderate stages of a substance abuse problem may be able to get the help they need from outpatient treatment or an outpatient rehab program
- The specific services offered will vary depending on the type of program it is and whether they offer an intensive outpatient program or not. For example, Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) tend to provide services several days a week, and often offer behavioral therapy, medication, and case management
- It is advised that you make sure to consult with a licensed professional and also your insurance company to get clinical recommendations and accurate cost estimates
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Understanding outpatient rehab
Outpatient treatment for addiction provides therapeutic programs and addiction treatment in an office-based setting. Some outpatient programs are intensive, offering individual and group therapy several days a week, while others offer less intensive treatment. Less intensive outpatient treatment may include group, individual, or family therapy once or twice a week. Some programs offer additional services including medication for withdrawal symptom management and case management, and many have drug testing requirements built into their programs.
Those at the mild to moderate stages of a substance abuse problem may be able to get the help they need from outpatient treatment or an outpatient rehab program. Others with more severe addictions may opt for inpatient rehab or even medical detox and then transition to an outpatient treatment center after discharge or an intensive outpatient program.
Those who cannot afford inpatient rehab can also benefit from outpatient treatment. A formal assessment with a licensed addiction specialist, counselor, or doctor can often help you determine which option is best for you.
What is outpatient rehab?
Outpatient rehab programs offer treatment for alcohol and drug addiction that can be scheduled during the week and often around other commitments. Group, family, or individual therapy is often included, as well as access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and even case management services. 
The specific services offered will vary depending on the type of program it is and whether they offer an intensive outpatient program or not. For example, Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) tend to provide services several days a week and often offer behavioral therapy, medication, and case management. Often, there are strict drug testing requirements and rules about not missing group or individual appointments that need to be followed in these more intensive programs.
Seeing an addiction counselor in private practice usually means meeting with a counselor for sessions once or twice a week. This kind of outpatient treatment is often referred to as counseling or outpatient therapy and provides less intensive support. For this reason, it may be better suited for those with mild use disorders, or for those who have already established their sobriety.
Types of outpatient rehab
There are different types of outpatient drug treatment that are available depending on the level of addiction, dependency, or substance abuse, as well as the type of substance that has been abused. Typical outpatient treatment programs include: 
Partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
Often classed as the most intense form of outpatient care, PHP requires patients to attend treatment for up to ten hours a day, most if not all days of the week while living at home. This outpatient treatment program is beneficial for those who cannot commit to inpatient care, like those with young children, but who still require a high level of care and support with their recovery.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOP)
The step down from partial hospitalization programs (often used by PHP patients as the next step) IOP requires patients to attend day treatment for three hours a day, often for five days a week but declining as recovery improves.
Standard outpatient treatment (OP)
Standard outpatient treatment usually only requires attendance one to two times a week and usually involves meeting with a counselor for individual, group or family therapy sessions. This substance abuse treatment can vary in intensity and duration but is often used for those who need less support with addiction.
Organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and SMART Recovery groups are available in most cities around the US and provide support to people in recovery from addiction. Unlike other outpatient programs, these groups tend to be run by people in recovery, as opposed to being facilitated by a counselor. Most groups are free and open to the public. Support groups can be a great way to connect with others in recovery, and many people attend them even after achieving years of sobriety, or while they are attending other types of outpatient treatment.
Remote addiction treatment
Not everyone has physical access to addiction treatment programs which can create a barrier to them receiving help. Thankfully, there are many forms of remote addiction treatment and support programs that are designed to help those who cannot get access to addiction treatment easily. These include:
online therapy programs
virtual treatment programs
support group access
What is the right rehab option?
The decision of which treatment type is right for you or whether inpatient or outpatient rehab would be beneficial can be a difficult choice to make. Regardless of which choice you ultimately make, deciding to get help is always the biggest step. When choosing which rehab option to go for, it’s important to recognize the level of addiction or substance dependence and how much help and support, as well as medical supervision, you will need.
Also, it is advised that you make sure to consult with a licensed professional and also your insurance company to get clinical recommendations and accurate cost estimates. If possible, research several options for treatment before making a commitment. This way, you can select a treatment option that best meets your needs and ensure you get the help you need.