Merrimack Alcohol Treatment

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Do I Need an Outpatient Treatment Program?

There are plenty of all-purpose facilities that help people get clean and sober. You may even be able to find a facility that specializes in the treatment of addiction to the specific drug you’re struggling with. In fact, that’s the type of clinic you want to find. The clinic doesn’t have to provide treatment for your specific addiction alone, of course, but it’s a good idea to go with drug treatment facilities that do have some specialized training with your particular drug of choice.

There are quite a few reasons why this is important. While some addiction-related issues are somewhat common to many different drugs, there are other factors—such as individual withdrawal syndromes—that are unique to specific drugs. Using outpatient drug rehab centers that focus on treating individuals for specific addictions rather than offering a one-treatment-fits-all-addictions policy is an ideal outlet for recovery.

Additionally, different substance use disorders and the often-long-term use of the specific substance that accompanies them can impact the mind and body in different ways. The staff needs experience in handling the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of the specific addiction you’re struggling to gain control of. Sometimes this takes very specialized training. Being well versed in treating the specific type of addiction you’re struggling is extremely helpful when it comes to conveying the recovery process to both you and your loved ones.

Levels of Outpatient Care

The 2 main settings for addiction treatment are inpatient and outpatient. Additionally, though, there are a few levels of treatment within those general settings. For example, outpatient rehab can range from a couple hours per week to several hours per day, depending on the specific program. The types of staff members vary according to the program as well. You’ll want to do your research before choosing an outpatient recovery program that best suits your needs. Common levels of outpatient care include:1,2

  • Standard outpatient: This is the least intensive setting and often involves 1-2 treatment sessions per week for 1-2 hours each. You’ll likely meet with a therapist in a clinic or office location.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs): These programs primarily consist of nonmedical staff members. Patients receive treatment about 3 times a week, for 2-3 hours per session. This is sometimes used as step-down treatment for someone who has recently completed an inpatient program and wants ongoing support.
  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs): Also called “day treatment,” these programs are the most intensive of the outpatient programs. They employ a combination of nonmedical and medical staff members. These programs meet 5-7 days per week for several hours at a time. Much like IOPs, PHPs are common forms of step-down care for those who have completed a residential rehab program.

If you are unsure of which program would be best for you, seek out a professional assessment from your therapist or physician. They can use the information gathered in the assessment to refer you to an outpatient program that is appropriate for you.

Contraindications to Outpatient

Outpatient isn’t right for everyone, which is why it’s so important that you receive a formal evaluation from a medical or mental health professional. They can make a qualified assessment of your patterns of substance abuse, mental health, physical health, social health, and withdrawal risk.1 They then use this information to determine a suitable level of addiction care for you. If a person has received professional detox services and is stable and drug-free, outpatient substance abuse treatment may be a beneficial and safe option. However, one of the major reasons someone shouldn’t necessarily enter outpatient treatment is that they are significantly physically dependent on alcohol or sedatives, like benzodiazepines, and haven’t already undergone medical detox. Withdrawal from alcohol and/or benzodiazepines can be fatal due to the potential for grand mal seizures. If a person is at risk for withdrawal complications, such as seizures, it could be vital that he or she enters a formal detox program with 24-hour support and access to medical care.1 Medical detox services can keep a person safe and comfortable while going through the withdrawal process.

If a person has undergone detox and achieved stability, there may still be a few reasons why they should consider inpatient rehab as opposed to outpatient. People who may benefit from inpatient include:1

  • Those with severe addictions.
  • Those with polydrug addictions.
  • Those with co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Those with special medical considerations or concerns.
  • Those with a high risk of violence or suicide.
  • Those without reliable transportation to the facility.
  • Those without the ability to provide informed consent.
  • Those with low motivation or history of treatment noncompliance.

Once you and your doctor decide on an appropriate treatment level for you, you’ll want to take individual outpatient programs into consideration. Each one is different, varying in location, support, flexibility, amenities and services, and cost.

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