Why outpatient therapy is a critical step in the path to sobriety

Continuing care after initial addiction therapy is crucial to maintaining sobriety. Learn how outpatient treatment can help you stay sober.

minute read
By Harold Clifton Urschel III, M.D., M.M.A.
Chief Medical Strategist, Enterhealth

Leading a life of sobriety can be challenging once an addict steps outside of the protected walls and supportive foundation of a residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment center.

This is where outpatient treatment can help!

But, why is outpatient therapy necessary after inpatient rehabilitation program? Most inpatient drug and alcohol treatment programs range from 30 to 90 days, and do not extend the continuum of care through an outpatient treatment plan after inpatient rehab. The reason most people fail in the pursuit of sobriety is because they receive a limited amount of treatment and then they stop.

In this article we explain more about the benefit and importance of outpatient addiction treatment programs and continued therapy. Then, we invite your questions and comments in the end section.

Treating addiction as a lifelong chronic disease

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), addiction is a chronic brain disease, meaning there’s not a finite amount of treatment time for addiction. The NIH further describes addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug and alcohol urges, despite harmful and potentially fatal consequences. For that reason, outpatient therapy is a critical step in the path to recovery.

At Enterhealth, a drug and alcohol treatment center based in Dallas, we treat addiction as a chronic brain disease, providing medically focused program both inpatient and outpatient treatment.

Here is what the addiction treatment process looks like:

  1. Each patient begins with a comprehensive medical and psychological assessment.
  2. The assessment leads to individualized treatment plans and strategies to manage addiction on a daily basis.
  3. The individual plan follows the patient through residential treatment into outpatient treatment extending treatment well beyond the residential stay.

When addiction treatment stops, the disease returns, just like you would suspect if an individual with diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure suddenly stopped taking medication or watching their diet.

At Enterhealth, we work to help patients develop strategies to manage their disease over their entire life span, as you would any other chronic medical illness. Healing the brain takes time and outcomes are significantly improved when treatment is both medically based and extended over a long period of time.

Outpatient addiction services and therapies

We believe that by adding advanced, science-based therapy services, patients will have more resources to manage the disease and lead a successful life. To affirm our commitment to state-of-the-art outpatient treatment services, we recently invested $500,000 to further expand treatment programs, online therapy tools, as well as hire additional addiction treatment professionals. Our expansion of outpatient services includes the following:

Cognitive remediation therapy helps repair and improve weakened brain functions, such as memory loss and task sequencing, caused by alcohol or drug use.

Neurobiofeedback treats the chronic brain disease of addiction by retraining the person’s brain to be calm, focused and more relaxed in stressful situations. Stressful incidents are a major cause of relapse, and Neurobiofeedback training helps create a solid foundation on which to build recovery.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an addiction therapy technique used to desensitize patients when it comes to the negative emotions associated with a traumatic event. The treatment is used as a tool to reprocess traumatic memories into something more positive.

Medical experts at Enterhealth continue to implement the latest and most advanced addiction treatment tools to enhance residential treatment and outpatient maintenance programs in an effort to increase the chances of a successful recovery process.

Designing an individualized treatment plan for each patient

Enterhealth Outpatient Center for Excellence provides a comprehensive, multidisciplinary assessment when the patient first arrives. That means we have a physician, neuropsychologist, senior level therapist, as well as lab and drug testing readily available to design an individualized treatment plan for each person. Using these assessment tools, we’re able to determine the level of brain injury caused by drug or alcohol use for each individual patient.

We’ve designed a one-stop outpatient treatment program by providing all the necessary services a patient needs in one convenient, accessible place. This kind of outpatient treatment model provides a seamless transition to life after inpatient therapy or can be a standalone option, depending on the severity of the addiction. The goal of each customized treatment plan is to deliver a suite of services over a long period of time to help patients lead a sober, happy and productive life.

The importance of stress management in recovery

One of the most important goals of outpatient therapy is to teach the patient healthy coping skills for dealing with stress. When an individual is actively using drugs or alcohol, the addict relies on the substance as a way to cope. Our teams of medical professionals specializing in addiction help patients:

  • Develop a handful of coping strategies to effectively deal with and manage stress.
  • Find a new, sober peer group.
  • Better manage stress and previous trauma in the healthiest way possible.
  • Be equipped with a variety of effective tools before diving into more intense therapy issues, such as past traumatic experiences and events.

We understand that an overwhelming percentage of addicts have a history of trauma in their lives. Before dealing directly with the trauma, we first teach individuals during one-on-one therapy sessions about coping strategies.

Continued care and outpatient addiction treatment

The expert medical team at Enterhealth Outpatient Center for Excellence believes that outpatient therapy is really a necessary part of long-term success. We urge individuals who are struggling or who have struggled with addiction in the past to continue their journey through sobriety by choosing a continuing care support program.

Unfortunately, triggers that can potentially ignite a relapse will be there forever. That is why a continuing care program is the recommended critical part of recovery, regardless of the length of the residential stay or short term outpatient program.

At Enterhealth, we believe the purpose of continuing care is for everyone involved to stay actively aware and engaged during the recovery process, and to always be seeking new and more effective ways to help them lead a healthy, happy and sober life.

Outpatient therapy questions

Did you like the information provided in the article, but would like to learn more? If you have any further questions regarding outpatient treatment for addiction, please post them in the section below. We try to reply personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.

About the author
Dr. Urschel is Co-Founder and Chief Medical Strategist for Enterhealth, one of the finest residential and outpatient treatment programs in the nation. Known as one of the country's foremost authorities on substance abuse and addiction, Dr. Harold Urschel is the author of the New York Times best seller, “Healing the Addicted Brain.” He is a coveted speaker on substance abuse and the latest treatments of the chronic brain disease of addiction on both the local and national stage.
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