Outpatient Rehab – Is It The Right Choice For You?

by pgh

For the recovery alcoholic and addict, there are a lot of potential paths to recovery.  Treatment options can range from long-term in-patient rehab, to a short stay in a treatment center while you detox, to simply making the decision to quit  and attending the occasional therapy session.

Outpatient rehab is often touted as a good “in-between” medium for people who don’t want to spend 24/7 in a  treatment facility, but who don’t think they can manage without significant support.  With outpatient rehab, the patient goes to the clinic during the day, spends some time listening to lectures and sharing with other patients, but go back home in the evening.

While outpatient rehab might work for some, personally, I’ve seen that in-patient rehab has a much higher success rate.  If you’re serious about your recovery, you’ll have a much better chance of a successful recovery if you check into a residential treatment center.  But don’t just take my word for it – here’s a study that states that patients who check into a residential treatment center are four times less likely to relapse than those in outpatient clinics.

Why Is Outpatient Drug Rehab A Poor Compromise?

There are a number of problems with choosing outpatient rehab over residential treatment. Probably the biggest hindrance to the success rate of outpatient clinics is that they don’t address the environmental factors that contribute to relapse.  In a residential facility, the addict in early recovery has virtually no choice but to stay sober.  The many emotional triggers that can cause an addict/alcoholic to relapse are removed.

With outpatient rehab on the other hand, the addict is still completely exposed to the environmental factors that could trigger a relapse.  They’ll still be tempted to call up their addict friends, drop by their old hangouts, walk by the liquor store, heck, an addict friend might just drop by uninvited to party.  For an addict, their abuse is interwoven with the very fabric of their daily lives.  Inpatient treatment allows them to be removed from that environment during those critical early weeks/months during early recovery.  Outpatient rehab doesn’t accomplish this.

Are The “Benefits” Of Outpatient Treatment Really Worth It?

People who choose outpatient rehab usually do so because it has less of an impact on their daily lives.  The costs are lower, they can still sleep in their own bed, they can still enjoy their freedom, and they may even be able to keep working.  These are all tempting reasons to choose outpatient treatment.

At the same time, are these benefits really worth it if your end goal is to get clean and sober?  Yes, outpatient treatment may be less disruptive to your lifestyle, but that might not be a good thing.  If your lifestyle is intertwined with alcohol/drug use, then you actually want a severe disruption to your usual lifestyle.  That’s exactly what residential treatment offers.

If you’re really serious about recovery and you have the means, you shouldn’t be worried about maintaining the conveniences of your lifestyle.  Your goal in early recovery should be about getting through each day without using – no matter what the cost.  Remember, any financial cost of residential treatment is low in comparison to the ultimate cost of continuing on the path of addiction.

This isn’t to say that outpatient rehab is useless.  If you’re seeking treatment for the first time and you are truly balking at the idea of a long term stay in rehab, then outpatient rehab may be a good first step.  But if you give it a try and it doesn’t work, then you should seriously consider residential treatment.  At the very least, try something different – don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over again.  One of my favorite quotes is from Albert Einstein:

“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

This quote applies perfectly to treatment and recovery, so take these words of wisdom to heart and apply them to your treatment decisions.

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