Outpatient Rehab for Substance Abuse: Does it Really Work?

Drug addiction treatment is something that people are still skeptical about. Many people fear that the treatment options won’t work for them, or that rehab in general isn’t effective. However, as a disease, addiction needs to be treated like other chronic mental illnesses. In this article, we will explore one of the most popular forms of treatment, outpatient rehab for substance abuse, examining its effectiveness and comparing it to inpatient rehab programs. 

Learn more about our outpatient rehab programs here.

Assessing the Effectiveness of Outpatient Rehab for Substance Abuse

A 2014 study entitled “Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence” where intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) were examined to determine their effectiveness when compared to inpatient and residential treatment alternatives.

They explored cases where a medical detox wasn’t required – a medical detox is needed when withdrawal symptoms are potentially dangerous, such as in alcohol dependence. The researchers concluded that intensive outpatient treatment for substance abuse was a crucial part of the recovery process for people addicted to alcohol or drugs as a continuum of care – a program whereby an individual who requires further care after inpatient rehab can be helped while given the opportunity to adjust to their new way of life.

The researchers also concluded that outpatient rehab for substance abuse was as effective as their counterparts, residential and inpatient rehab, for most people seeking treatment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that IOPs are as effective as their counterparts when the individual has a good support system at home.

Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab

Having looked at the effectiveness of outpatient rehab, we will now explore the differences between inpatient vs outpatient rehab because each has its own benefits that are usually the drawing factor.

Inpatient rehab can be seen as a more intensive form of treatment, but mostly because of the fact that a person stays at the treatment center for the duration of their early treatment – since both types of rehab provide the same programs. Inpatient rehab has some of the following benefits and drawbacks:

  • Allows a person to get away from negative influences in their home and social life
  • Around the clock emotional and medical support
  • Access to medical detox programs that require 24/7 care
  • Depending on the rehab, the person can benefit from serene, therapeutic environments
  • There tends to be access to more holistic treatment programs such as equine therapy
  • Usually more expensive
  • Family and friends cannot assist for the most part
  • Staying at the facility full time can mean that the person is unable to work, go to school, or support dependents

On the other hand, intensive outpatient treatment for substance abuse has some of the following benefits and drawbacks:

  • Tends to be more affordable
  • One of the biggest benefits is that the program isn’t disruptive, which means that the person can still take care of dependents, go to work, or to school while getting treatment
  • Access to support through their family and friends
  • If a medical detox is required, it needs to be done at another facility
  • Excellent for a person who needs transitional care after inpatient rehab

Both inpatient and outpatient rehab for substance abuse have their own unique benefits, but their effectiveness in treatment remain the same since they both use the best evidence-based treatment approaches. If you would like to know more about the most popular form of addiction treatment – outpatient rehab – then contact WhiteSands at (877) 855-3470 today.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.