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Outpatient Program (OP)

Outpatient Addiction Treatment Programs

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When searching for a substance abuse and addiction treatment program, you’ll have two main options: inpatient care or outpatient care. Inpatient treatment is recommended if you have a moderate-to-severe addiction or a co-occurring disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia.

However, an outpatient program can work well if you have a milder addiction and a strong support system at home, or if you’ve already completed inpatient treatment. 

What Is An Outpatient Program (OP)?

In an outpatient treatment program, you’ll regularly attend a treatment facility while living at home. When you first enter the program, a team of behavioral health professionals will evaluate your situation and create a personalized treatment plan.

Most treatment plans include therapy, support groups, and, for certain types of addictions, medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Therapy

Many people consider therapy the most important part of addiction treatment. Common types of therapy for addiction include:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy, where you can learn to strengthen your mental health, identify triggers for drug use, and develop healthy coping skills
  • motivational interviewing, where you can learn to improve your motivation to stay sober
  • contingency management, where you can earn rewards, such as cash or gift cards, for staying sober and making other positive changes in your life
  • family therapy, where you and your family members can learn more about your addiction and how to support your recovery 
  • group therapy, where you can learn important recovery skills alongside other people facing addiction 

Support Groups

Like group therapy, a support group lets you connect with other people recovering from addiction. However, while group therapy teaches you how to recover, support groups teach you how to cope with challenges on your recovery journey. 

Popular support groups include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), SMART Recovery, and Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS). 

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

If you’re addicted to alcohol, opioids, or tobacco, your health care providers can make your recovery easier by prescribing medications such as:

  • methadone, which can reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings in people addicted to opioids
  • naltrexone, which discourages the use of alcohol and opioids by blocking their pleasant effects
  • disulfiram, which discourages the use of alcohol by causing unpleasant effects like headache and nausea when you drink 
  • bupropion, which can reduce cravings for tobacco

Advantages Of Outpatient Programs

Compared to inpatient programs, outpatient programs offer the following benefits:

  • increased affordability
  • increased flexibility
  • ability to live at home and receive support from your loved ones
  • ability to practice what you learn in therapy in the “real world”

Types Of Outpatient Programs

There are three types of outpatient programs: standard outpatient programs (OPs), intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs). 

The groups vary in intensity, with OP being the least intensive and PHP being the most intensive. Many people start treatment with a more intensive program and then transition to less intensive programs as they recover. 

Standard Outpatient Program (OP)

This program involves under nine hours of treatment per week. Often, the weekly treatment plan includes multiple support group meetings and one therapy session. 

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

This level of care involves at least nine hours of treatment per week. It includes more therapy sessions than a standard OP.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Also called day treatment, a PHP includes three to five days of treatment per week. Most treatment sessions last five to six hours. As the most intensive form of outpatient care, it’s a good option if you have a more severe addiction but can’t afford inpatient care. 

Continuing Care Program

Also called aftercare, this program can help you maintain recovery after you complete one of the above programs. Depending on your needs, it may include treatment services such as ongoing therapy, support groups, and wellness activities like exercise, yoga, and meditation. 

If you or a loved one struggles with drug abuse or addiction, please contact a Recovering Champions specialist to learn about our comprehensive treatment center.

Written by Recovering Champions Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

American Society of Addiction Medicine - What are the ASAM Levels of Care?
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - MAT Medications, Counseling, and Related Conditions

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