Outpatient treatment for substance abuse is the best option for many people. Those who need or want to continue working while attending drug counseling, who prefer to live at home, who need or want to stay close to loved ones like children or parents, who are able to stay away from drugs while attending the program, or who need less expensive forms of treatment may all benefit from attending an outpatient program rather than an inpatient or residential drug treatment program.

Outpatient drug treatment comes in many varieties, ranging from a few sessions of education to daily counseling sessions. Outpatient programs allow people a little more flexibility over their schedule and the ability to remain near home while getting addiction treatment.

Outpatient Treatment and the Continuum of Care

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) developed a Continuum of Care, which aids clinicians in determining which forms of substance abuse treatment may be most beneficial for their patients. This scale begins with Level 0.5 and moves through Level 4.

  • Level 0.5: This level is early intervention, sometimes also involving preventative measures and education programs. The goal of this form of care is to identify those at risk of developing substance abuse problems and help them understand the risks, so they can avoid problematic behaviors leading to addiction.
  • Level 1: This involves low-intensity outpatient treatment for adults and adolescents, requiring less than 10 hours of time in counseling sessions every week.
  • Level 2: Two forms of more intensive services are involved here. People lives at home but spend a great deal of time in a clinical setting.
  • Level 2.1: This is intensive outpatient treatment, involving 10-20 hours per week in counseling, some physicians’ visits, and other treatment options as medically necessary.
  • Level 2.5: This is partial hospitalization, typically 20 or more hours per week for those who are safe at home and do not require 24 hours of care. This form of substance treatment can benefit those with co-occurring disorders, or simultaneous substance abuse and mental health conditions.
  • Level 3: This level of care involves residential and inpatient treatment services, which help people with more serious struggles with addiction stay in a sober environment, focus on changing their behaviors, and learn new skills for re-entering daily life.
  • Level 4: This level involves medically managed intensive outpatient services, which may include hospitalization after overdose, treatment for chronic illness related to substance abuse, and care for associated psychiatric conditions. Level 4 services involve 24-hour nursing care and daily physician checkups.
  • This continuum of care can help individuals understand outpatient treatment options in relation to specific physical, emotional, and mental needs.

    Types of Outpatient Treatment

      There are two basic forms of outpatient rehabilitation: standard and intensive.

    • Standard outpatient treatment: This is a low-intensity form of treatment, in which a person attends 1-3 counseling sessions per week. These are typically group counseling, although one may be individual counseling. Sessions are scheduled during evenings and on weekends, in addition to daytime options, to provide flexibility for those who have work or family responsibilities.

      The counseling sessions focus on changing behaviors, last for an hour or two, and allow the individual to spend most of their time focused on staying sober in daily life. Outpatient treatment of this variety works in conjunction with peer support. Treatment can last for several months or years, as long as the individual benefits from the therapy.

    • Intensive outpatient programs or treatment (IOP or IOT): This version of outpatient treatment still allows the individual to stay at home in the evenings, but counseling sessions are longer and more frequent, so the forms of therapy provided are more like those in inpatient treatment programs. IOPs typically involve 10-20 hours of counseling per week, over three days or more.

      The individual will spend much of their time focusing on their treatment and recovery, but can still spend time with loved ones when they are not attending counseling sessions. Intensive outpatient treatment typically lasts for a few weeks to a few months. This intensity over a brief period of time may benefit those who do not respond well to more relaxed treatment, such as that offered in standard outpatient care.

    Finding Outpatient Treatment in Dallas, TX

    The Lonestar State has numerous treatment programs all over the state, and Dallas, as one of the largest metropolitan areas, provides great access to both inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment options. However, this means that finding the right program may feel like an overwhelming process. Which facility provides the best care? Do they provide specific help with outpatient programs, detox, and other services? Do they offer complementary treatments?

    These are just a few outpatient treatment options available in Dallas. To find more options, based on price, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), type of therapy, or insurance coverage, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hosts an online treatment locator. In addition, Psychology Today keeps a list of outpatient facilities and counselors in Dallas.