What is an Outpatient Drug Rehab? (Types, Cost, Benefits)

An outpatient drug rehab is a non-residential, therapy-based treatment for mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Unlike inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab does not include onsite living/housing arrangements.

Instead, the person with an addiction problem lives at home and attends therapy sessions according to the provided schedule. Outpatient facilities offer clinical services to people with substance addiction and their families impacted by dependence.

Outpatient services may be delivered at different intensity levels according to the patient’s needs. These services include counseling, education, and connections to community services. The cost of outpatient rehab varies depending on the program type, location, and duration.

General outpatient rehab ranges between $1,400 to $10,000 over 30 days. At the same time, partial hospitalization programs (PHP) are cheaper than inpatient because you don’t live at the program and don’t have to bear the cost of room and board.

However, PHPs are often more expensive than standard outpatient programs because you spend several hours in therapy daily, and many programs serve lunch.

What is the Difference Between Outpatient and Inpatient Drug Rehab?

The main difference between outpatient and inpatient drug rehab is the level of care and supervision provided. The table below adds the significant differences between outpatient and inpatient rehab:


Outpatient Drug Rehab

Inpatient Drug Rehab

Living Arrangements

Do not require onsite living/housing arrangements.

Requires onsite living/housing arrangements.


The person lives in their own home.

The person lives at the rehab center.

Therapy Sessions:

Attends therapy sessions based on a provided schedule.

Receives 24-hour medical and emotional support.

Time Commitment

Involves treatment for a few hours a day, several days a week.

Usually, it requires a stay of three months or more.

Daily Routine

Allows continuation of daily routine alongside therapy sessions.

Provides a more structured and immersive environment.

Treatment Intensity

Generally considered less intensive and restrictive.

More intensive and focused, designed for severe addictions.

Transition to Recovery

Provides a smoother transition to long-term recovery.

Offers an environment conducive to concentrated recovery efforts.


Often less expensive compared to inpatient rehab.

They may have higher costs due to 24/7 care and facilities.

What Are the Different Types of Outpatient Rehab?

Three primary types of outpatient treatment programs exist Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), and Traditional Outpatient Therapy. Each program type is evidence-based and medically proven effective in treating substance abuse and mental health disorders.

1. Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP):

IOP is a structured and intensive treatment program that offers more support than traditional outpatient therapy while allowing individuals to live at home. IOP provides comprehensive care with multiple therapy sessions each week. It’s suitable for those who need substantial support but have responsibilities at home. IOP is recommended for individuals with moderate to severe substance use disorders who require a structured program but can’t commit to full-time inpatient care. IOP often includes evidence-based therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Group Therapy, and Family Therapy. The cost varies based on location and services but can range from $3,000 to $12,000 for a 90-day program.

2. Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP):

PHP offers intensive daily treatment, allowing individuals to return home in the evenings. PHP provides medical supervision, intensive therapy, and support while allowing individuals to maintain independence. PHP is suitable for individuals who require intensive care but can manage daily living outside a hospital setting. PHP includes evidence-based therapies, medical monitoring, and sometimes medication-assisted treatment for individuals with co-occurring disorders. The cost varies based on the duration and location, typically from $350 to $450 per day.

3. Traditional Outpatient Therapy:

Traditional outpatient therapy involves regular therapy sessions that offer support while allowing individuals to continue their daily routines. This option provides flexibility and is suited for individuals with mild to moderate substance use issues who need ongoing support. Traditional outpatient therapy is recommended for those with milder substance use disorders who are motivated to change and have strong social support. Traditional outpatient therapy encompasses individual counseling, group therapy, relapse prevention strategies, and coping skills development. The cost varies widely but is generally more affordable than intensive programs, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 for 90 days.

How Does Outpatient Rehab Work?

Outpatient rehab is a structured treatment program for individuals dealing with substance abuse or addiction while remaining in their own homes. The process starts with an assessment by a licensed counselor or healthcare professional to determine the appropriate level of care. A personalized treatment plan is then developed, consisting primarily of therapy sessions, such as individual counseling and group therapy, using evidence-based approaches like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy.

Treatment sessions occur regularly, with the individual returning home after each session, and the frequency and duration vary based on their needs. Medication management, support networks, education, and progress monitoring are key components. Outpatient rehab is flexible, making it suitable for milder addiction issues or as a step-down from inpatient care.

How Much Does Outpatient Rehab Cost?

The cost of outpatient drug rehab varies based on program type, duration, services, and location. Below is a table summarizing average cost estimates:

Program Type

Average Cost



Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

$3,000 – $12,000

30-90 days

Structured sessions with more intensity than regular outpatient

Partial Hospitalization (PHP)

$350 – $450 per day


Intensive care, medical supervision

Traditional Outpatient Therapy Varies

$100 – $250 per session 


Regular therapy sessions at a lower intensity

Note: These are average estimates; actual costs may differ.

Don’t let cost deter you from seeking treatment. Investing in rehab is a step toward a healthier, addiction-free future. Always choose a program that aligns with your needs for the best chance at long-term recovery. Our admission specialists and case managers are available 24/7 to help you out. Just complete the form or call us at (323) 307-7997.

How to Pay for Outpatient Drug Rehabilitation?

Paying for outpatient drug rehabilitation can be a financial hurdle, but there are targeted methods to make it manageable. Here’s a focus on some of the most accessible ways:
Insurance: Using health insurance is the most common way to offset the cost of rehab. Coverage can vary widely depending on your plan, but the Affordable Care Act mandates that most health plans must include services for substance use disorders. It’s crucial to consult with your insurance provider to understand what portion of the treatment they will cover, as out-of-pocket costs can still be significant.

Public Funding: Government-funded programs can also assist in covering the cost of rehab. Medicaid often provides coverage for substance abuse services, though the extent of coverage can vary from state to state. It’s essential to check local resources to see if you qualify for this type of aid.

Sliding-Scale Fees: Many rehab centers offer sliding-scale fees based on your income. This system adjusts the cost of treatment based on your ability to pay, making rehab more affordable for those with limited financial resources.

Employer Assistance: Some companies offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), including short-term substance abuse treatment services. If your employer offers an EAP, this can be an excellent way to receive treatment at a reduced cost or even for free. Always consult your Human Resources department for specific details.

Out-of-Pocket: For those without insurance or other means of financial aid, paying for rehab out-of-pocket is an option. Some facilities offer discounts for payments made upfront or provide the option of installment payments.

How Does Outpatient Rehab Work?

Outpatient drug rehab programs offer treatment for substance abuse without requiring patients to reside at a treatment facility. Here’s how outpatient drug rehab works:

  • Initial Assessment: Your journey starts with a comprehensive evaluation by medical professionals to determine the level of care you need. This assessment often includes psychological evaluations, drug screenings, and a medical history review.
  • Personalized Treatment Plan: A tailored treatment plan is created to address your specific needs based on your assessment. This could include medication management, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and other evidence-based treatments.
  • Scheduled Visits: Unlike inpatient rehab, where you reside in the facility, outpatient rehab involves scheduled visits to the treatment center for therapy sessions, medical check-ups, and other treatments.
  • Group Therapy: Many outpatient programs include group therapy sessions, which are proven to be effective in building a support system and learning from the experiences of others.
  • Accountability: Regular drug tests may be conducted to ensure you stay on track. This accountability is crucial for effective treatment.
  • Aftercare Planning: Before you complete the program, an aftercare plan is developed to help you transition back to daily life and maintain long-term sobriety.
  • Family Involvement: Family members are often involved in the treatment process, as their support is crucial for long-term recovery. Many programs offer family therapy sessions as part of the treatment plan.

Evidence shows that outpatient rehab can be just as effective as inpatient rehab for many individuals, especially when it includes evidence-based therapies and a strong support system.

How Long Does Outpatient Drug Rehab Last?

The length of outpatient drug rehab varies depending on the individual’s needs and goals. Most outpatient rehab programs last 30-90 days, depending on the severity of the addiction and the progress made in treatment. 

The ASAM criteria plays a large role in determining the appropriate level of care for each patient. RCA therapists will discuss a patient’s options with them and help them determine the appropriate level of care. 

People typically require long-term or repeated care to achieve the goal of continued abstinence and recovery in their lives. The individual’s treatment goals also determine the length of outpatient drug rehab.

What Are the Benefits of Outpatient Drug Rehab?

Outpatient drug rehab is crucial for many individuals struggling with substance abuse. Evidence supports the benefits of outpatient drug rehab in the following ways:

  • Accessibility: Outpatient rehab allows individuals to receive treatment while maintaining their daily responsibilities, making it a practical option for those who cannot commit to residential programs.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Outpatient programs are generally more cost-effective than inpatient treatment.
    Personalization: Outpatient rehab offers tailored treatment plans based on individual needs.
  • Support and Accountability: Patients in outpatient programs can receive support from their families and communities while attending therapy and counseling sessions.
  • Continuity of Care: Outpatient rehab often includes aftercare services, ensuring a smoother transition back into daily life and reducing the risk of relapse.
  • Evidence-Based Approaches: Outpatient programs commonly employ evidence-based therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET).

What Are the Behavioral Therapies Used in Outpatient Drug Rehab?

Outpatient rehab uses various types of therapy to help individuals overcome substance use disorder (SUD). Here are some types of therapy used in outpatient rehab:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of individual therapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. It is often used in outpatient rehab to help individuals develop coping skills and prevent relapse.
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI): MI is a therapy that helps individuals identify and resolve ambivalence about change. It is often used in outpatient rehab to help individuals increase their motivation to change and engage in treatment.
  • Family Therapy: Family therapy is a type of therapy that involves the individual’s family members in the treatment process. It is often used in outpatient rehab to help individuals repair relationships and develop a support system.
  • Group Therapy: Group therapy is a type of therapy that involves a group of individuals with similar issues working together with a therapist. It is often used in outpatient rehab to provide support, encouragement, and accountability.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of therapy that helps individuals regulate their emotions and develop mindfulness skills. It is often used in outpatient rehab to help individuals manage stress and prevent relapse.
  • Contingency Management: Contingency management is a type of therapy that provides rewards for positive behaviors. It is often used in outpatient rehab to help individuals stay motivated and engaged in treatment.

How to Choose an Outpatient Rehab?

When it comes to choosing the right outpatient rehab program for effective treatment, there are several essential factors to take into account. We consulted with Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD (Addiction Medicine Specialist at NuViewTreatment), “Choosing the Best Outpatient Rehab,” and here is his insight:

Based on my extensive experience in addiction medicine, I’ve discovered that making a well-informed decision can profoundly influence an individual’s path to recovery. Let’s delve into key aspects that can guide your decision-making process when searching for the ideal outpatient rehab:

Recognizing Addiction as a Chronic Condition:
It’s crucial to grasp the concept that addiction is a chronic condition rather than a quick fix. This perspective is fundamental as it shifts the focus from short-term solutions to a more holistic and continuous approach. Similar to managing conditions like diabetes, addiction necessitates ongoing care, education, and vigilance. Prioritizing outpatient programs aligned with this outlook can significantly increase the likelihood of achieving an enduring and successful recovery.

Embracing Principles of Harm Reduction:
Look for outpatient rehab programs that embrace principles of harm reduction. This approach centers on patient-centric care devoid of judgment. These programs acknowledge that individuals may be at different stages of readiness for change and tailor their treatment accordingly. By offering resources and support tailored to individual circumstances, such programs contribute to a more comprehensive and efficacious recovery journey.

Exploring Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT):
Giving due consideration to outpatient programs that support medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is crucial. MAT involves combining medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment. This approach has effectively facilitated recovery and prevented relapse, especially for individuals dealing with opioid or alcohol use disorders.

Making Informed Decisions:
Making informed choices about an outpatient rehab program involves asking pertinent questions. Inquire about the program’s approach to addressing addiction as a chronic condition. Understand their stance on harm reduction and whether they incorporate MAT into their treatment offerings. Engaging in open conversations with treatment providers can offer insights into their treatment philosophy and methods, aiding you in aligning your goals with their services.

Considering Location:
While the geographical location of an outpatient rehab center holds importance, it’s equally crucial to prioritize program quality over proximity. Opting to travel for outpatient rehab might be a viable option if it leads to access to a program that resonates with your needs and values. The effectiveness of treatment can significantly impact your recovery journey, making the program’s distance a secondary concern.

What Are the Challenges of Outpatient Drug Rehab?

Outpatient drug rehab provides several benefits, but it also poses some challenges. Here are some of the challenges of outpatient drug rehab:

  • Limited Supervision: Outpatient rehab does not provide 24/7 supervision, which can pose a risk for individuals with severe addiction or those prone to relapse.
  • Access to Drugs: Individuals in outpatient rehab have greater access to drugs and environments that may trigger cravings and relapse.
  • Limited Structure: Outpatient programs offer less structured environments compared to inpatient rehab. This may not be suitable for individuals who require intensive structure and support.
  • Time Commitment: Outpatient rehab often requires a significant time commitment for therapy sessions and counseling, which can be challenging for individuals with busy schedules or responsibilities.
  • Lack of Isolation: Some individuals may struggle with maintaining abstinence in their usual home and social environments.
  • Co-Occurring Disorders: Outpatient rehab may not adequately address co-occurring mental health disorders, which can complicate addiction treatment.
  • Relapse Risk: Outpatient rehab may have a higher risk of relapse compared to inpatient treatment.
  • Insurance Coverage: Access to outpatient rehab can be limited by insurance coverage or financial constraints, reducing treatment options for some individuals. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act aims to address this issue, but disparities may still exist.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Outpatient Drug Rehab

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Outpatient drug rehab can be effective for some individuals with mild to moderate addiction and strong support systems. However, the suitability of outpatient treatment varies; those with severe addiction or limited support may benefit more from inpatient care. It’s essential to assess individual needs for the most appropriate level of care.

Many health insurance plans provide coverage for outpatient rehab as mandated by the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act. Coverage specifics can vary, so it’s crucial to check your policy and contact your insurance provider for details on what services are included and any potential out-of-pocket costs.

Success rates of outpatient rehab compared to inpatient rehab can vary widely based on individual factors, such as the severity of addiction, motivation, and support systems. Both types of rehab have shown effectiveness in treating substance abuse, with outpatient programs often more suitable for individuals with milder addiction and strong support networks, while inpatient care may be preferred for severe cases. It’s essential to consider individual needs when choosing the most appropriate treatment approach.

Yes, outpatient rehab can be a suitable option for individuals with mild addiction problems. It provides flexibility while offering evidence-based treatments and counseling. However, the appropriateness of outpatient treatment should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account individual needs and support systems.

Yes, outpatient rehab can be combined with other types of treatment, such as individual therapy, support groups, or medication-assisted treatment (MAT), depending on an individual’s specific needs and treatment plan. Combining multiple approaches can enhance the effectiveness of addiction treatment and support long-term recovery.

In outpatient rehab, you can expect various types of support, including individual counseling, group therapy, family therapy, and access to community-based support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These supportive services help individuals address addiction issues, develop coping skills, and build a network for ongoing recovery.

The suitability of outpatient rehab depends on factors like the severity of your addiction, your support system, and your ability to maintain abstinence in your home environment. A thorough assessment by a healthcare professional can help determine if outpatient rehab is the right choice or if a higher level of care, like inpatient treatment, is more appropriate for your needs.