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How long does outpatient addiction treatment last?

Generally, outpatient treatment lasts from about three (3) months to a year. But each person is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. More guidelines on treatment timeline here.

5
minute read
By Deja Holley

Generally, outpatient treatment lasts from about three (3) months to a year. While each person is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, programs will vary in intensity and requirements.

More here on the guidelines for treatment and associated timelines here. Then, we invite your questions about duration of outpatient treatment at the end.

Outpatient treatment can be a great option

Outpatient treatment is a form of addiction treatment that does not require living at the residence of a treatment facility. This program allows the flexibility of living at home or in a sober living facility during your rehabilitation program and usually costs less than residential or inpatient treatment programs. For those who are unable to take extended breaks from work or other personal obligations such as school, this is a great option because it integrates elements of both inpatient and outpatient treatment.

How long does outpatient treatment last?

The duration and extent of an outpatient treatment program will vary and is based upon the philosophy of the facility, as well as the specific needs for the individual. Going into outpatient treatment, a recovering addict can expect to stay within the program from one to three months – while severe cases may require a year or more. Long-term outpatient, more than 90 days, is not common and usually results in a residential program of the same length because severe cases are usually too great of a risk for relapse to remain in their current environment.

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When seeking a program, ask about its average length and how flexible the duration of the treatment is. It’s important to attend the whole program because outpatient rehab treatment is designed around a program schedule that consists of specific topics you may need later on in your recovery.

Often times, insurance companies will only cover a certain period of time in treatment. So, verify your coverage before choosing and entering a program. If your insurance provider does not cover the full duration of treatment, consult with the outpatient program, as sliding scale, scholarship, or government vouchers may be available.

What are the different types of addiction outpatient treatment?

There are various types of outpatient rehab programs (PHP, IOP, OP), so it may be possible to transition into a less intensive program after completing other programs. For example, many individuals go from intensive outpatient to outpatient because they still benefit from the continued support even though the demand and hands on engagement of the program is lessened.

There are different treatment options to choose from based on your level of addiction and individual needs. It’s not uncommon for treatment centers to follow a series of “phases,” where you graduate through programs into less demanding and hands on programs; however, there are strictly outpatient facilities for those with less severe addictions who do not require detoxification and for those transitioning out of a residential only facility.

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Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) are the most therapeutically intensive and structured type of outpatient treatment. PHP clients usually meet five hours a day up to five days a week. The level of involvement varies for each client and is determined by the therapists in cooperation with the client. With therapeutic care comes any necessary hospital-based care and services while the individual transitions into sober living facilities.

Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are a less intensive version of PHP, while still providing the necessary structure. This program offers the individual a greater level of freedom and personal responsibility, such as going to work and school during the day while attending regular evening therapy and support meetings.

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Outpatient treatment (OP), or individual therapy, is significantly less intensive and structured than PHP and IOP. While the intensity is dependent on the needs and motivation of the individual seeking recovery this program is treated as continuing care. It’s common that a minimum two hours of therapy and support meetings is required each week. The individual is responsible for finding a therapist or psychologist who specializes in addiction treatment to work with them. Because this program is treated as continuing care the individual is able to spend a majority of their time working towards career and education goals.

Why choose Outpatient Treatment?

There are various factors that need to be considered when deciding whether or not you require residential or outpatient treatment including, your level of addiction, motivation, and past treatment experiences. A few reasons why you may choose outpatient treatment are:

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1. Yours is a case of moderate – not severe – addiction.

If you’re still within the early stages of your addiction and your addiction isn’t severe, than outpatient treatment may require the necessary structure and support you need to recover.

2. You’re looking for continuing care.

Outpatient treatment programs are usually recommended as the next phase after you’ve been treated at a residential/ facility. Using these programs is an effective way to maintain long-term sobriety.

3. You are interested in regular support.

These programs, especially OP, could be a great resource for regular meetings and support outside of friends and family to help maintain sobriety and prevent relapse.

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4. You can’t complete a residential/inpatient program.

If your professional, educational or personal obligations prevent you from taking extended leave to complete residential programs, outpatient rehab may be a better fit for your needs. These programs can be scheduled around work and school so you are able to maintain commitments.

5. Residential rehab is too expensive.

Outpatient treatment services are usually less expensive than residential treatment programs due to the fact that you’re not pay to live in the facility’s residence. A great option if you are struggling financially or your insurance doesn’t cover addiction treatment services.

Questions about outpatient duration

If you still have questions about the duration or types of of outpatient treatment programs for addiction…please leave us your questions in the comments section below. We’ll do our best to respond to you personally and promptly.

If you are looking for an outpatient facility you can find treatment through the online directory or via the SAMHSA treatment locator website.

About the author
Ocean Breeze Recovery is a full spectrum, luxury addiction and dual diagnosis treatment center located in South Florida. Our mission is To heal the broken mind, body, and spirit - one person at a time - through compassion, perseverance, and unconditional acceptance.

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  1. My husband got results back from the assessment he had done and the paperwork says he has mild drinking maybe. It says treatment recommendation is level 1 outpatient treatment. What does that mean? He travels for his job so how exactly would he be able to do treatment if he’s traveling?

    1. Hi Jessica. Every rehab program is different. I suggest that you call to the rehab facility that your husband is planing to go, and consult with the staff there.

  2. Outpatient does not disconnect patients from their surrounding environment. That is why outpatient is not as effective as residential for addiction recovery.

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