When is Outpatient Drug Treatment the Best Option?

Outpatient drug therapy is a form of treatment where a person attends treatment sessions at a facility or center, but then returns back to their home afterward.  It typically requires one to spend about 10 to 12 hours a week, which allows that individual to continue working, remain close to family and friends, and otherwise, maintain their normal daily routine. 

Inpatient recovery, or residential treatment, is another popular type of program – one that is designed to deliver intense and specialized treatment for short periods of time.  Individuals are required to live 24 hours a day within a residential facility and can only leave that facility in special situations or circumstances.  Outpatient treatment, on the other hand, allows those individuals to come and go as they please – offering far more freedom and flexibility.    

While inpatient and outpatient treatment programs offer many of the same types of therapy, outpatient therapy is often the preferred choice for those who need to maintain their daily work activities and community and family obligations.  As with inpatient treatment, most outpatient facilities offer psychotherapy in individual and group sessions, an orientation to 12-step programs, relapse prevention classes, various support groups and family counseling.  Addiction education, life skills and coping techniques are also a focus. 

Overall, outpatient treatment can be a good stand-alone option for someone with a mild addiction, or it can be part of a long-term treatment program.  Nevertheless, this type of program can address an individual’s many needs and result in a much lesser expense than residential treatment. 

However, there are certain situations where this form of treatment may not be preferable.  These include:

When Significant Withdrawal Symptoms Are Present

For some, the early phases of recovery may mean suffering through a number of withdrawal symptoms, like migraines, nausea and vomiting.  For those extreme cases, these symptoms can pose a danger to health.  In these circumstances, an inpatient treatment program would be the preferred option since the individual can be monitored around the clock and given immediate attention, if necessary.  Once their systems have stabilized and the symptoms have passed, these individuals are typically released into an outpatient program.

When Individuals Live in an Environment Not Conducive to Recovery

This type of environment could include an abusive relationship, when others in the home are actively using, or when significant triggers exist.  Basically, any place that will interfere with an individual’s success during recovery should be avoided.  Because a person is extremely vulnerable in the early stages of recovery, it is often recommended to begin treatment in a residential program until the person can demonstrate that they are stable enough on their own to deal with issues outside the treatment program. 

When Individuals Have Severe Mental Health Disorders

Those who are struggling with a severe mental health disorder, such as depression, should initially be placed in a residential facility.  This is because inpatient programs are better equipped to serve these individuals and can offer the necessary professional resources to help stabilize their situations. 

Ultimately, however, outpatient programs are a great treatment option (other than in the situations mentioned above) as they teach recovering individuals how to stay sober in a real-life setting and equip them with tools to help sustain recovery.    

At Arise Recovery Centers, our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) allows clients to receive the treatment they need locally in a comfortable confidential setting.  We pride ourselves in providing a unique and truly personalized IOP experience – one that involves various evidence-based treatment methods, facilitated group sessions and weekly therapist one-on-ones.  For more information on our Intensive Outpatient Therapy, please call us at 1-888-DFW-ARISE (1-888-339-2747) or contact us by email at

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