Posted by Sponsored Post Posted on 29 June 2022

How Long Does an Outpatient Rehab Program Last?

Individuals with substance use disorders may find themselves in a tough situation due to a history of abusing drugs or alcohol. Some of these people seek professional help in the form of rehabilitation.

To receive the most comprehensive treatment, inpatient rehabilitation programs are suggested. These live-in sites provide 24/7 monitoring and the chance to step away from life’s stressors, allowing a patient to fully commit to recovery.

However, some choose to start their recovery in outpatient rehab centers. There are several outpatient choices, and each has variations in length and daily commitment time.

Below we’ll talk about how long different outpatient programs last and their general differences.

Why Choose an Outpatient Program Over Inpatient Rehab?

Even though inpatient rehabilitation centers are the most encompassing type of treatment program, some people decide to go with an outpatient option.

This is not because either option is better or worse than the other. The effectiveness of treatment is measured on a case-by-case basis.


Outpatient options are chosen over inpatient for several reasons. Reasons to enter an outpatient program over an inpatient program can be:


  • the cost of inpatient programs is too high

  • insurance will only cover outpatient services

  • the severity of substance use disorder is mild, or substance abuse hasn’t lasted long

  • an individual has commitments that can’t be left unattended, such as children, occupation, taking care of relatives, etc.

  • a chosen outpatient program specializes in a specific type of care, such as working with veterans, those in the LGBTQ+ community, or other demographics


Sometimes an outpatient option will follow a stay at an inpatient program. This is to make the transition between the structure of inpatient treatment and regular life easier on the patient.


What Are the Different Types of Outpatient Rehabs?


Different outpatient options are designed for different types of patients. But with any ourpatient rehab program, patients travel to the facility for treatment then return home each day. This is what makes these programs different from inpatient programs, which involve patients living on site.


The three types of outpatient programs are:


  • standard outpatient programs (OP)

  • intensive outpatient programs (IOP)

  • partial hospitalization programs (PHP)


Each of these can have different durations, usually depending on the patient’s substance abuse history, and how they progress during the program.


Let’s take a look at each of these outpatient options, including how long they may last.


Standard Outpatient


Standard outpatient programs are the least intensive out of all the outpatient options. This is because they require the lowest weekly commitment. Patients will attend group or individual therapy for one to nine hours a week.


These programs can last anywhere from a few months to a year. Typically little to no medical care is provided in standard outpatient programs.


Intensive Outpatient


Intensive outpatient programs are more intensive. They are oftentimes attended by those who have just finished a stay at an inpatient program.


These are a more compact, yet full, experience. Patients will attend nine to 20 hours of therapy and counseling for three to four months.


Partial Hospitalization


Partial hospitalization programs are the most comprehensive outpatient option. Patients who enter these programs usually need both medical care as well as treatment for their substance use disorder.


Patients can expect to stay on-site for eight to 12 hours a day, attending therapy, group meetings, and visits with doctors. PHPs can last anywhere from three to four months.


If you are looking for the closest option to an inpatient program without the cost and overnight commitment, partial hospitalization programs may be the right choice for you.

Choosing the Right Outpatient Option


If you or a loved one are seeking treatment and recovery for a substance use disorder, entering an outpatient program can help.


Refer to a doctor for an evaluation so you can choose an appropriate outpatient option. You may also want to check if your insurance has outpatient mental health coverage.


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