Does Outpatient Addiction Treatment Work?

Outpatient treatment seems like an attractive option for many, when it offers them the flexibility of living at home, choosing when to go for treatment, and at what frequency. It is often much cheaper, and less disruptive for those who cannot leave home – for example, if they have a job or family commitments. However, whether outpatient treatment programmes are as effective as inpatient rehabs should be questioned.

Although intensive outpatient programmes have been found to have comparable results to inpatient rehabs, this is not true of all outpatient programmes. Outpatient programmes only rarely have the required intensity to be considered an intensive outpatient programme.

The former Head Therapist for Castle Craig Hospital points that out-patient treatment usually only lasts for an hour or two a day and if an addicted person then steps back into their usual environment, where there are “a lot of distractions”, it’s almost impossible to remain abstinent, especially for those with other underlying issues that have contributed to the addiction.

Although out-patient treatment for drug addicts and alcoholics “can work” it often fails because “the disease is more powerful than the individual”.

We make people thirsty for recovery!

Tom believes that in-patient, or residential treatment, offers “an opportunity for the focus to change”. He says “we don’t tell people things they don’t already know. We put a different perspective on it and help them see it differently.”

What does an expert say?

Former Head Therapist for Castle Craig Hospital:

Don’t get me wrong, outpatient treatment can work. I’m not sitting here saying that it does not work. There’s an element of… the degree of a problem… that once you get to a certain point, it’s not going to work because the disease is more powerful than the individual. Outpatient treatment generally runs… and hour and a half, two hour max. Generally, most of the time, not even an hour. It depends on the type of outpatient treatment. And if it’s the type of who are working in the daytime, they go in at night time, there’s an element where they are broken away from their family, then they’re put back with their family and it’s a lot of distraction. When doing inpatient, there’s an opportunity for the focus to change.

We don’t tell people things they don’t know. We put a different perspective on it, and help them see it differently and change the way they approach it. Mainly, it’s rehabilitation; it’s getting people back on track on what they need to do and finding themselves. They spend an awful lot of time creating a persona that’s not them and trying to de-fuel that with alcohol and drugs to try to make it exist and it doesn’t. It doesn’t last. It’s a lot of work. You know they say, “You can take a horse to the water; you can’t make them drink, but you can make them damn thirsty.” And that’s what we hope to do here, if anything, we can make them thirsty for this recovery. Because it works. If it didn’t work, I wouldn’t be doing it. I wouldn’t be doing it.

Inpatient Addiction Treatment

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