Recovery From Home: How Outpatient Rehab Works and Its Benefits

Drugs and alcohol abuse are struggles shared by millions of Americans. Over 20 million people in the U.S. report some type of addiction. Unfortunately, no more than 10% of these cases receive help. Acknowledging the problem is a decisive first step toward rehabilitation. In many cases, families (and even courts) are forced to intervene. Outpatient rehab is designed to treat patients who don’t require inpatient intervention, but is outpatient treatment the right solution for you or your loved one? Every patient is unique, with their own needs, history, and addiction story. Let’s take a closer look at outpatient treatment to see if it’s the right solution to your problem.

How Outpatient Rehab Works
Fig: How Outpatient Rehab Works

Outpatient VS Inpatient Treatment:

Moving into an actual inpatient rehab facility is a big change. This point is the most recognized difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. However, the differences go beyond staying at a treatment facility.

Detox Programs:

Many patients who enter inpatient facilities are not sober. Therefore, they must undergo a complete detox. Depending on the severity of the addiction, patients may experience substantial physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. Medication is frequently provided to manage severe withdrawal.

Both inpatient and outpatient centers offer detox problems; however, inpatient facilities may have more intensive detox methods for severe addiction cases. Most drug detoxes range anywhere from three to seven days. Regardless of the route you choose, you cannot start a treatment program without a complete detox.

Medical VS Holistic Detox:

Detox methods vary between programs. Some treatment centers lead toward medical solutions, while others favor holistic approaches.

For example, one treatment center may prescribe Benzodiazepines to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms, while another may recommend natural Kudzu supplements.

Whether a program prefers medical or holistic treatment, both rehabs have prescription medications available for withdrawal management. Both programs also advocate exercise, healthy eating, and meditation, as these holistic methods help mitigate withdrawal symptoms.

Outpatient Detox:

A paper published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism outlined general detox protocols for outpatient programs. Unlike inpatient facilities, patients don’t stay overnight to complete detox. They’re expected to visit a hospital or medical center a few times a week for detox treatment. Detox is usually completed during the day, but some outpatient treatment centers may offer evening detox programs.

Detox always starts with a thorough assessment, whether you’re enrolled in an inpatient or outpatient program. The first detox session is the longest and can last up to two hours or more. After the initial session, you can expect shorter detox appointments, with many lasting 30 minutes or less.

Outpatient detox is more suited for alcoholics and addicts with mild to moderate substance abuse; these symptoms include appetite loss, general restlessness and anxiety, profuse sweating, and possible nausea and vomiting. Some patients may want to consider enrolling in an inpatient detox program before switching to outpatient if their symptoms are worse than expected.

How Outpatient Programs Work?

After detox, patients can start their treatment programs. Depending on the program, patients engage in various treatment activities, including group and individual therapy, healthy eating, exercise, and creative activities.

Outpatient rehab primarily focuses on therapy. Patients can expect a wide range of therapeutic exercises. Therapy is aimed at recognizing and fixing substance abuse triggers and patterns.

Here are several therapy exercises to expect:

  • Gratitude journaling or letter writing,
  • Trigger identification,
  • Positive vs. negative thoughts and language,
  • Listing sober activities,
  • Creative writing,
  • Role-playing exercises,
  • Self-care ideas,
  • Anger management,
  • Art and music therapy,
  • Visualization exercises,
  • Overcoming fear.

Some treatment programs may have group therapy sessions with family members. Trained staff may also discuss the science behind addiction with family members to better help patients at home.

Outpatient Nutritional Education:

Good nutrition is another important topic covered in outpatient rehab. Treatment professionals recommend healthy, low-inflammatory diets to curb substance cravings and boost the immune system.

Fatty, sugary, and salty foods trigger dopamine responses, but not in a good way. Addictive unhealthy diets can also cause hormonal imbalances, which lead to mental health consequences like anger and anxiety; both of these symptoms are common triggers for substance abuse.

Studies also link inflammation to depression, and depression is a leading trigger for addiction. Thus, most treatment centers advocate low-inflammatory diets.

Low-inflammation foods are common, and the following items can be found in any local grocery store:

  • Oily and fatty fish,
  • Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries,
  • Mixed nuts,
  • Olive oil,
  • Fresh greens,
  • Avocados,
  • Peppers,
  • Green Tea,
  • Turmeric,
  • Tomatoes.

Even yummy dark chocolate is on the anti-inflammatory food list! There’s a lot you can do with a low-inflammation diet; it’s also one of the best ways to manage your rehabilitation at home.

One of the most critical pieces of outpatient success is self-discipline. Unlike inpatient rehab, you’re responsible for your own meal-planning at home. Consider seeing a nutritionist, especially in the early stages of treatment.

Exercise is another focal point of outpatient treatment. Some programs even provide gyms and exercise equipment to recovering addicts. Aerobics, yoga, and running groups are also available to patients.

Success After Outpatient Rehab:

Outpatient treatment isn’t a one-time deal. Consider treatment as the start of a new, healthy life. The only way to succeed with rehab is to practice the same healthy behaviors you learned in treatment.

Patients can attend outpatient programs for several months to a year. It’s not uncommon for an outpatient rehab center to offer post-treatment programs; these programs may require just one to three sessions a week, with additional mental health and diet treatment.

One of the biggest appeals of outpatient rehabilitation is flexibility. You don’t have to move into a brand new environment or take time off of work. However, it’s up to patients to maintain strict self-discipline.

Enjoy a New Life After Recovery:

You’re almost ready to enjoy the next chapter of your life. You’ve already identified the problem. Now, it’s time to do something about it. Use this guide to navigate the world of outpatient rehab, so that you can make the best choice for your path. Remember to maintain a low-inflammatory diet, positive thinking, and exercise to improve recovery success at home.  It’s time to put your health first. Check out the blog to discover more healthy tips and tricks for your new life!

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