Normal life is not within the walls of a hospital if one is not a medical professional. Most people live in their own homes with their families and loved ones. They have friends that know their strengths and weaknesses. Doing an inpatient program could be very disruptive to their lives, work, and families.
Outpatient treatment programs recognize this. People need to work with their problems in ways that confront the temptations of their world while learning how to say “NO!” to what is bad, and “Right!” to what is good. Overcoming substance abuse and addictions is no easy matter. It takes a lot of support from professionals, concerned family members, and the right social networks to overcome those problems. Most of all, successful addiction treatment requires the clients to say, “I am able to do this! I can succeed! I will succeed!”
Outpatient programs are:
- Working side-by-side with people in their normal environments
- Usually less expensive than inpatient programs and covered by most work insurance policies
- Not separating people from those who care and love them the most
- Enabling people to (re)start constructive employment, academic, religious, and family activities
- Helping people to both face and overcome their problems
- Individualized according to each person’s unique personality and needs
Not all outpatient programs are huge time hogs. The amount of time depends upon what help is needed and provided, and as clients stabilize their lives, the time requirement can gradually be diminished. Some people may initially require hours each day at an outpatient facility, then reduce the time down to some weekly meetings, eventually going down to a single monthly session, usually in social support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The goal of all rehab is sustained emotional and living stability: personal independence.
Guided by professional therapists and doctors, through intensive counseling, medically assisted addiction treatments, and support group participation, clients can restart their lives, overcoming past problems, to eventually face a better tomorrow. But such work is not easy. Outpatient programs only work after clients have recognized they have serious problems, and they are serious about overcoming those problems.
There are many types of outpatient therapies. Daily or weekly contacts with specialized professionals are needed. Clients need a clear understanding of their own problems, so some portions of treatment are educational. Overcoming all addictions or psychiatric issues require developing relationships with support groups. Medical doctors may prescribe medications as needed if the client has drug withdrawal or psychiatric issues. The client’s family may need counseling and education assistance, so the home environment does not enable earlier problems.
Eventually, joining a group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous could increase positive social interaction and ties. New friends often need to be made to help prevent relapse. Addiction withdrawal is something that needs to be understood as a lifelong process. As long as the former addict can say “No!” to all new and former temptations, relapse can be prevented. None the less, temptations will always be around, so the person must persevere making correct choices. New friends and social groups, such as AA, help make it easier to make correct decisions.
If clients have severe physical withdrawal problems, such as those that come from drugs like narcotics or benzodiazepines, it might be best if they spend some time in inpatient programs, for withdrawal and detox can be torturous! If they also have other psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder, severe depression, or PTSD, inpatient programs can work on those at the same time. Other situations where inpatient programs work best is when clients come from detrimental living and/or social environments, or whenever clients lived in situations where relapse is very likely. Full recovery requires clients to have full, personal confidence they can succeed; if they are unable to stay away from their sources of temptations, relapse may be inevitable. If a client has suicidal idealizations, inpatient programs also provide safety.
All affected people, both clients, and others around them must understand that a treatment plan that worked for cousin Harry might not work at all for brother Larry. Every person has different circumstances, different physiologies, and different personalities. The biggest problem faced by all clients and therapy centers is what set of programs work best for each individual.
It is possible for all addicts to come clean and to live normal lives. But it takes a lot of work, patience, and endurance, not just for the clients, but also for those other significant people around them. An addict will always be an addict, which is why organizations like AA exist. But there is light at the end of the tunnel; it need not be the headlamp of the relapse train, but the sunshine of a new life unshackled from chains of chemical and psychological slavery.