Does Outpatient Detox Work? What Addiction Science Says
outpatient detox
5 Feb, 2022

If you’ve recently decided to quit drugs or drinking, congratulations! You’ve made a crucial step on the path to recovery. And while many people know that recovery starts with detox, not everyone is sure which detox is right for them. Does outpatient detox really work? Should you still be worried about withdrawals? These are just a few of the questions that countless people ask themselves in early recovery.

And to help you make the best decision for your recovery, we’re going to answer all of your questions about outpatient detox, different types of rehab programs, and outpatient substance abuse treatment. But let’s start by taking a look at drug and alcohol detox as a whole.

How Do Detox Programs Help?

How Do Detox Programs Help?

The biggest benefit of any detox program is that it helps you manage withdrawal symptoms. These come about because, over time, your body gets used to functioning with drugs or alcohol in its system. So when you decide to quit, your body no longer knows how to work without those substances. This can lead to a variety of symptoms depending on the substance(s) used, the amounts you’ve been using, length of time you’ve been using, and your medical history.

The most severe withdrawal symptoms come when someone quits alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines. In all of these cases, withdrawals may even be life-threatening, with symptoms like hallucinations or seizures. That’s where detox can make all the difference.

By providing you with medical supervision, inpatient detox programs can help you manage withdrawal symptoms. And while treating withdrawal symptoms can do a lot to keep you comfortable, that is not the only benefit of medical detox.

During very early recovery, the risk for relapse is at its highest. This is because when people detox at home, their only way to stop withdrawal symptoms is to drink or use again. In this way, medically supervised detox doesn’t just keep you comfortable—it makes it possible for you to get and stay sober by treating your withdrawal symptoms.

Of course, all of this applies to how medical inpatient detox works. But what about outpatient detox?

Does Outpatient Detox Work?

When you enroll in an outpatient detox program, you continue to live at home while attending treatment for a number of hours at the rehab of your choice. Meetings may be daily or weekly, and they center around providing emotional support as you detox from drugs and alcohol. And while outpatient detox is more convenient, especially for those who can’t or don’t want to take time off work, that is perhaps its only advantage over inpatient medical detox.

This is because outpatient detox requires several things that are rare to find in someone who is just quitting drugs or alcohol. First, it requires an exceptionally stable home life, where none of the people in your life encourage you to drink or use drugs. As you might imagine, this is not the norm for most people who are just starting on their recoveries.

Moreover, outpatient detox does not usually offer medical support. So while you may meet daily or weekly to receive encouragement and talk about the struggles with detoxing, you are unlikely to receive help for your detox symptoms. And while living at home, dealing with untreated withdrawal symptoms is a recipe for relapse.

If you’re considering outpatient detox because you can’t take time off of work, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your options. For example, did you know that many Americans can use FMLA to take time off work while keeping their jobs safe? And since inpatient detox is covered by many insurance plans, including Medicare, it’s often no more expensive than outpatient detox. If you’re not sure whether or not your insurance will cover detox, you can always submit an insurance verification form quickly and easily!

When Is Outpatient Care Worth It?

outpatient rehab

Just because outpatient detox isn’t advisable in most cases does not mean that no outpatient program is worth pursuing. In fact, certain outpatient rehabilitation programs can do a great deal of good in addiction recovery. The difference is that outpatient care is typically most effective when it comes after inpatient treatment.

For example, say an individual has successfully completed a dual diagnosis program to overcome both addiction and its underlying mental health causes. They may be ready to go home and resume their normal daily living. However, this is often not the case. Rather, individuals often feel some uncertainty about going back to daily life without being able to rely on drugs or alcohol. In these situations, outpatient programming can provide ongoing support as individuals get used to living out in the world without relapsing.

A partial hospitalization program is a good option for individuals in this situation. By living at home and attending outpatient treatment, you can continue to reinforce what you learned in rehab and apply it in real world situations. This support can be especially crucial if your home life is volatile, since it can help remind you why your recovery is worth fighting for, even and especially when it’s hard.

If you’d like to learn more about your addiction recovery options, call our friendly admissions specialists at (813) 908-4199. Or, if you’re not ready to take that step, reach out through our confidential contact form to get answers to all of your questions. With a wide variety of programs, The Blackberry Center is prepared to help you overcome addiction in whatever form it presents, including alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription drug abuse.

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