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In a fascinating article produced by The Los Angeles Times, the authors suggest that addiction treatment programs tend to last for 30 days simply because they’re based on military systems. If addicted military people enrolled in treatment and they stayed for 30 days or fewer, they didn’t need to be reassigned. The date has little to do with efficacy of treatment, but it became the model that insurance plans favored, and it became the most common standard of care.

It’s a shame since most people need much longer than a month in order to overcome an addiction. In fact, most people need many months, if not years, of help. Much of that assistance comes in the form of outpatient programs that take hold when inpatient care is complete.

The Role of Outpatient Care

People who attempt to get sober without any kind of treatment at all tend to relapse back into use at a rate that exceeds the rate seen in those who participate in professional treatment, according to a study in the journal Addiction. In a rehab program, people have the opportunity to step away from the challenges of everyday life and really look at why they use drugs, and what they should be doing differently.

When people emerge from these inpatient programs, they can be sober and have a number of skills they can use to preserve that sobriety. But they may also have old habits, drug-using friends and drug-friendly spaces waiting for them at home. When their programs are complete, they might slide back into bad habits once more.

Outpatient programs are designed to build on the lessons learned in inpatient rehab. It’s a form of ongoing care that allows people to discuss the new challenges they face with their return home, along with the lessons they’ve not quite finished while under the care of a rehab program.

Outpatient Program Options

While outpatient programs are designed to help anyone with an addiction, there are a number of different options available to addicted people. There isn’t only one outpatient program open to addicted people. A few options include:

  • Day hospitalization, in which the person spends all day in the program and goes home at night to sleep
  • Appointment only, in which the person goes to work, lives at home, and otherwise lives a normal life, while attending several appointments for addiction
  • Relapse prevention, in which the person meets with a group of addicted people and a counselor, and they focus exclusively on issues pertaining to relapse
  • Life skills, which also utilizes a group format, but which allows addicted people to discuss a number of different factors that could lead to a relapse

It’s common for people to participate in intensive levels of outpatient care in the weeks that immediately follow inpatient care, and then people tend to transition to less intensive forms of care as they heal and become more adept at keeping their triggers in check. It’s likely, however, that people will need some kind of outpatient care for the rest of life, just so they can continue to tap into methods they can use to keep their addictions under control.

At Black Bear Lodge, we believe in the value of outpatient care, and that’s why we provide intensive outreach for each patient that comes to us for care. When our program is complete, our clients know just what to do when they get home to stay on track, and we’re always available to provide additional support. If you’d like to know more about our programs and how they may be able to help you or someone you love, please call.