100% Confidential 1-844-84-SOBER (844) 847-6237


Outpatient programs are the least intensive form of drug and alcohol addiction treatment, providing no residential component and holding sessions less frequently than IOP, and is also generally the last phase of treatment.

About Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient may refer to any kind of treatment without a residential aspect (meaning patients do not actually reside on the facility campus, and the facility is not responsible for providing care 24/7). These programs may include partial hospitalization (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP). However, when referring to addiction treatment programs, the broad term “outpatient” generally refers to the non-residential program that of shorter frequency and duration than both IOP and PHP.

How Outpatient Treatment Works

Outpatient is very similar to IOP, with the one distinction being its intensity. Whereas IOP is held 10-12 hours every week, outpatient may be held for as little as 2-4 hours per week. Sometimes, it is only held for as little as a single 2-hour session each week.

All outpatient programs vary in how they work, but many offer the same basic services as any other form of treatment, such as:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Life coaching
  • Relapse prevention
  • Psychiatric services
  • Medication management
  • Drug tests (which are usually random)

Providing no residence for their patients, outpatient is generally accompanied by a sober living arrangement. Halfway houses may or may not work in conjunction with outpatient programs to implement each patient’s treatment regimen.

Who Outpatient is For

Outpatient is usually not a stand-alone type of treatment, but rather the last phase in a continuum of treatment that goes from detox to inpatient to aftercare. At this last stage, an addict is usually well enough to be able to handle less intensive treatment.

However, some do opt to begin their treatment with outpatient. In general, those who attend outpatient in this manner are unsure if they have a drug problem. Or, they have been struggling with drugs and alcohol, but are not convinced that they truly need the most intense treatment. For many of these folks, the simple therapy and medication provided by outpatient may help them overcome their problem. If not, they can always opt for more comprehensive forms of treatment.