Choosing the Right Outpatient Drug Rehab Program

Substance abuse addictions require highly individualized treatment in order to sustain recovery. Outpatient drug rehab and outpatient alcohol treatment are parts of a continuum of care that give a person the best chance for sustained recovery.

The continuum of care in addiction treatment means that a person receives the right care, at the right time, and with the right amount of structure and monitoring. Most individuals achieve a more lasting recovery when they progress through this spectrum of care, starting with a residential program like DARA’s. For some, a lower initial level of care may be effective. Outpatient alcohol treatment and outpatient drug rehab are nearly always preceded by admission to a more intensive program.

An individualized assessment with a qualified addiction therapist can help a client and their family determine which initial program is most appropriate. Please do not hesitate to contact DARA if you aren’t sure which level of care may be best for you.

What to Expect in Outpatient Alcohol Treatment and Outpatient Drug Treatment

Each outpatient program for drug and alcohol abuse and addictions will have unique and facility-determined features. But there are some general features an individual entering outpatient drug rehab or outpatient alcohol rehab can expect. The most important outpatient therapy feature is that the framework of treatment should be completely individualized to the client’s needs. Therapists also make every effort to work the outpatient treatment around the individual’s work, school, and home obligations.

Here are some general components and expectations of an outpatient treatment program:

  • Individual’s in treatment are expected to remain completely abstinent from alcohol and drugs
  • An initial assessment will carefully evaluate the client’s history and progression through other levels of care
  • Goal setting, based on this assessment, will be developed as part of the individualized treatment plan
  • The client takes an active part in identifying important goals and areas that need continued work in order to maintain recovery
  • Clients agree to a certain numbers of therapy sessions each week, and keep each appointment
  • Outpatient therapy uses both individual and group activities, with more emphasis on 1:1 treatment
  • Seminars, educational forums, and sober community activities will be integrated into the treatment plan
  • Clients agree to follow the defined rules set up at the beginning of outpatient drug rehab and outpatient alcohol treatment, and are aware of the consequences related to breaking these rules
  • The treatment plan is not static, and will be adjusted according the client’s progress
  • The therapeutic relationship is based on trust and honesty, and the client is best served by being open about feelings and other private information, even when they do not always feel comfortable sharing

Advantages and Disadvantages of Outpatient Drug Rehab and Outpatient Alcohol Treatment

There are pros and cons associated with attending outpatient drug rehab or outpatient alcohol treatment. Outpatient substance abuse treatment programs are not always the correct initial choice for most individuals, because they do not provide enough structure or support in the early period of recovery.  They are always an excellent choice after attending a higher level of care.


  • The client is generally able to stay in school or continue with employment while attending outpatient rehab.
  • Attending an outpatient program allows a comfortable transition from higher levels of care, into a fully autonomous life of sobriety. Life changes and stress are managed more effectively, and the client continues to strengthen their life skills and relapse prevention skills.
  • For some clients with a dependence on drugs and alcohol, rather than an addiction, it may be possible to initially attend an outpatient drug treatment or outpatient alcohol program. When this is viable option, a person may feel less stigmatized by not having to leave work or school for an extended period of time, and are able to keep their treatment private.
  • Outpatient drug rehab and alcohol treatment is generally less expensive than higher levels of care.
  • Receiving outpatient therapy allows the client to go home every night. If they have a supportive family environment, this is an important benefit. For others, outpatient treatment should be combined with a sober living community.


  • Those in the outpatient program will usually be faced with more temptation than those staying in rehab. It will be easier for them to give in to cravings, since there is no real restriction on their movements. This is one reason why outpatient therapy is considered part of the spectrum of care, and generally not the first level of treatment. Clients need time and professional guidance in residential treatment or an intensive outpatient program to develop relapse prevention skills.
  • Outpatient therapy does not provide clinical support 24/7.
  • People attending an outpatient program will still have the distractions and stress of normal life. They may still be expected to meet their family and work commitments, as well as continuing their journey into sober living. This is a serious business, and it can be difficult for people to build their new life if they have too many distractions at this phase of recovery, without the solid skills developed in residential care.
  • Those in an outpatient program may still have to face many of the triggers that they used as an excuse to abuse alcohol or drugs. It can be a challenge during this period of their recovery, if they are dealing with problems in their home life and trying to stay sober. Family therapy is integrated into all parts of care, but is most effective when started during the inpatient part of treatment and carried through all subsequent levels of care.
  • There are many emotional and physical challenges that occur as individual’s transition through the early weeks of recovery. The lingering effects of withdrawal symptoms can continue to be a problem for weeks after the individual has given up alcohol or drugs. In inpatient rehab there will usually be somebody on hand to deal with any problems that arise, but this lack of support may be a significant issue for someone who tries to begin recovery in outpatient therapy. Some very specialized outpatient drug rehab and outpatient alcohol treatment programs provide medication assisted recovery, but these are not always the best initial option.

Making the Most of Outpatient Drug Rehab & Outpatient Alcohol Treatment

Treatment for substance abuse is a very active process, regardless of the level of care utilized. Therapy is a collaboration between clinician and client, and there must be true motivation to change. Without motivation to regain sobriety, sustained recovery is hard to achieve.

Lifelong sober support is an important part of recovery. Making the most of treatment means willingness to investigate, and take part in, local groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and other sober support groups. These are valuable supplements to the outpatient drug rehab and outpatient alcohol treatment program. Once formal outpatient therapy is completed, AA and other sober socialization groups provide continued help and support for lifelong recovery.

While DARA clients, receive extensive help in locating follow-up treatment and resources, it is up to the client to make the most of what is offered and available. Completing the therapy process means that individuals must take responsibility for their actions and environment, and avoid people, places and situations that are likely to trigger a relapse.

It is important to share fears and concerns during the outpatient rehab process. Outpatient therapists are there to guide and help process the difficult feelings and situations that are likely to occur during the return to work, home and school environments.  Often clients have lost their social network, since it was based on drinking and drug use. Outpatient therapy and sober coaching helps individuals rebuild a life that isn’t based on friends or family that support or share drug and alcohol abuse. Positive social support is extremely important for recovery.

While DARA doesn’t have an on-site outpatient drug rehab program or outpatient alcohol treatment program, we do have a large international network of outpatient providers. We ensure that clients who have successfully completed residential treatment at DARA have a supported transition into an appropriate intensive outpatient, outpatient, or sober coaching program.

Learn more about DARA’s world-class drug and alcohol treatment. Contact one of our therapists today.
+66 8 7140 7788