What is outpatient substance use treatment?

Jump To

Outpatient treatment for substance use disorders: Overview

Outpatient treatment happens in mental health clinics, counselors' offices, hospital clinics, or local health department offices. Unlike inpatient treatment, you don't stay overnight.

Outpatient programs can be a challenge because you may continue to face problems at work and home. But it will help you build the skills you need to handle everyday problems.

In standard outpatient treatment, you may have 1 or 2 group therapy sessions a week. Treatment may go on for a year or more. Sessions may be in the evening or on weekends so you can go to work. You may be able to do outpatient treatment online. Ask your doctor or counselor about online options.

Outpatient treatment may be a good option if:

  • You can't or don't want to quit work or take a leave of absence.
  • You want to be close to friends or family.
  • You can stay away from drugs or alcohol where you live.
  • Inpatient treatment is too expensive.

For outpatient treatment to work well for you, it's important to go to your sessions regularly and also get other support, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Having support from friends or family, good transportation, and a stable place to live also are important.

It's important to stay committed to a drug-free or sober lifestyle. With treatment, you can make healthy changes and keep drugs or alcohol out of your life.

How do you choose treatment for substance use disorders?

If you have substance use disorder, your doctor may suggest treatment at an inpatient or outpatient facility. At inpatient facilities, you stay overnight. At outpatient facilities, you come only during the day. How long you stay varies among programs.

There are many options for inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Treatment may include group therapy, one-on-one counseling, drug and alcohol education, medical care, and family therapy. A combination of these treatments may be used in both inpatient and outpatient programs. You may be able to do outpatient treatment online. Talk to your doctor or counselor to find out about online options.

Your doctor or counselor will help you decide whether you should have inpatient or outpatient treatment. The choice may depend on:

  • How severe the substance use disorder is.
  • Your mental health.
  • What kind of support you have.
  • Your work and living situation.
  • How the treatment will be paid for.

The national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) can help you find treatment programs. Search online at findtreatment.gov or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.