When we think of drug and alcohol rehabs, residential programs are probably what come to mind. But while residential programs continue to be the gold standard in substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, outpatient programs are fast becoming the primary method for addressing drug and alcohol problems.
What might be surprising for many is that price isn’t the only reason someone might opt for an outpatient program over a traditional one in a residential facility.
Below are some of the reasons individuals with SUD and their clinicians may choose outpatient treatment. If you’re interested in rehab programs in North Texas, be sure to check out this resource on rehabilitation centers in Dallas.
1.) You Can’t Afford Residential Treatment
All other things being equal, outpatient treatment for alcohol and drug use disorders tends to cost much less than residential treatment. Residential programs incur all kinds of costs that their outpatient equivalents do not.
For one thing, all residential programs need to factor in the cost of room and board and 24/7 staffing. They also tend to have higher overheads, particularly if they’re in a remote location, as many luxury rehabs are. These costs all need to be covered by program participants and their insurance companies. That is, if their insurers cover these programs at all.
Outpatient programs, by contrast, have much lower comparative expenses, making them more affordable and more likely to be fully covered by your insurance plans. This makes them a win for many recovering individuals on a tight budget.
2.) You Want to Keep Working
If you’re going to enter a residential program, you’ll probably need to stop working for the duration. The way most residential programs are set up makes it impossible to keep working a regular job, especially for the first few months of recovery.
Outpatient programs, in contrast, make it comparatively simple to continue working or attending school. While there might be time constraints and occasional schedule conflicts, these are usually easy to resolve, which simply isn’t the case with most residential programs.
3.) Outpatient Treatment is More Effective Than Ever
Continual improvements in outpatient treatment methods and approaches have made them more effective than ever before. While they might not be suitable for all cases and scenarios, the success rates of some kinds of outpatient approaches are now comparable to those requiring a traditional residential setting.
4.) You Want to Mix and Match Approaches
Treating SUD is a highly multifaceted problem that usually requires a highly individualized set of approaches. That is to say, no single set of treatments is going to work for everyone. Success often involves being able to try out more treatments, thus finding a set of interventions that work better in your particular case.
It’s easy to combine different therapeutic interventions on an outpatient basis compared to finding a residential program that has everything you need, especially when money is a concern.
5.) You Can Be With Your Family
Most residential programs will temporarily isolate you from your loved ones to ensure that you can remain focused on your recovery. While a tried and tested approach, it isn’t necessarily one that works for all people, particularly for parents who want to remain active in raising their children. Choosing outpatient treatment makes it possible to keep in contact with loved ones and can be a good choice for people with extensive social support networks.
6.) You Need Discreet Treatment
There continues to be a lot of shame surrounding drug and alcohol use so it’s understandable that anyone would want to keep their SUD treatment private. Residential treatment can sometimes take up to six months to complete and extended absences can be tough to explain without resorting to deception. In contrast, outpatient programs make it possible to more or less continue with life as normal, making them a good choice if you want to avoid unwanted attention.
7.) You’ve Recently Completed a Residential Program
If you have already completed a residential program recently but just want to continue actively working on your recovery, outpatient programs may be a good option. They will make it easier to transition into a normal, productive life even as you focus on improving your mental and physical health through outpatient treatment.
8.) Your SUD Isn’t Advanced
If your psychiatrist assesses your SUD to be mild, then you may be a good candidate for outpatient treatment, especially if you have no comorbidities. While people with moderate or severe SUD can benefit from outpatient treatment, mild SUD cases have a much better chance of success.
9.) You Can Immediately Apply and Adjust Learnings
Because outpatient treatment doesn’t disconnect you from the real world, you can readily apply learnings from group and individual workshops. If you encounter any hitches, it will be easy to bring them up at your next session so that you could be advised on how to readjust your approach.
Are Outpatient Programs for You?
While outpatient programs have improved their success rates in recent decades, residential programs are still widely considered to be the better choice in more serious SUD cases. However, given the right circumstances, outpatient programs can be the better choice, and not just because they’re typically more affordable. Ultimately, you will need to work with your physician to determine whether or not you’re a good candidate for outpatient treatment.