How Does Outpatient Rehab Work?

Are you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to expect with outpatient rehab for addiction? You’re not alone; many people are unfamiliar with the process but have heard good things about these addiction recovery programs. Rewarding and life-changing outcomes can be reached, but understanding how it works is key. Learn the primary aspects and benefits of outpatient rehab and the main differences between it and inpatient rehab – giving you the information you need to make an informed decision about participating in such a program.

What is outpatient rehab?

Outpatient rehabilitation, whether for alcohol or drug addiction help, eating disorders, or another type of addiction, offers people a much different experience than inpatient. Inpatient drug rehabs are where someone admits themselves (or someone else) to inpatient hospitalization and will essentially live there until the treatment period is over. Inpatient care is much more intensive, requiring 24-hour around-the-clock mental and physical support by staff.

Those who choose outpatient rehab or step down from an inpatient facility will have a different experience. When someone enters outpatient rehab, whether it be a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or an intensive outpatient program (IOP), they have fewer restrictions placed on them as well as more freedom to carry on some everyday activities outside the treatment walls and return to their home each evening.

Types of outpatient rehab

Two main types of outpatient rehab that behavioral health professionals recommend.

Partial Hospitalization Program

Partial hospitalization is one form of outpatient rehab for addiction. It is a step down from inpatient and requires patients to attend at least five days a week between 5-6 hours a day. It’s almost like a full-time job. Therapists hold individual and group counseling sessions throughout the morning and afternoon – and sometimes until the evening – at a specific location. Additionally, patients get regular checkups from doctors and maybe a psychiatrist. There is a strong focus on reintegrating back into “society” with the skills patients have learned and will continue to learn.

Intensive Outpatient Program

Intensive outpatient is a step further down. Patients in this type of outpatient rehab program attend treatment for three hours and do not have to attend every day of the week. The idea is to back off the support and allow patients to become more independent and readjust to the world with some support in place. People in IOP are getting ready to take off the training wheels.

Think about treatment settings as a continuum of services. Some people don’t get a choice between the two, as they might start at the inpatient level and work their way down to less restrictive settings according to their treatment plan. Occasionally, those in an outpatient setting need more support and are referred to inpatient care. Either way, both provide outstanding support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.

There are several excellent benefits to outpatient rehab.

Benefits of outpatient rehab

Outpatient rehab helps those struggling with addiction in many ways. According to addiction experts with Alcoholics Anonymous, short and long-term benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Reducing the likelihood of substance misuse and relapse
  • Learning early recovery skills
  • Learning beneficial coping skills
  • Meeting peers who are going through a similar situation
  • Building a long-lasting support system
  • Practicing and implementing skills in home and community environments

Continuing therapeutic services, actively working through daily stressors and negative thoughts, and focusing on family, friends, and work are significant benefits as well.


No one’s journey with an addiction looks the same, so why should treatment? If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and has already completed inpatient treatment, outpatient care might be the next step to recovery. Outpatient rehab is also appropriate for those whose mental health and medical team don’t deem inpatient rehab necessary. Overall, outpatient rehab is a constructive step in the treatment process. If you’re interested in learning more about outpatient rehab at Fusion Recovery, please contact us today. We would be happy to answer any questions or get you started on the path toward healing and hope.

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