Many patients in treatment for drug dependence opt for outpatient care. Compared to residential drug rehabs, outpatient addiction treatment programs offer more flexibility and are usually less expensive – a combination that often makes the idea of treatment more palatable to those who are uncertain about their ability to leave work or home.
However, outpatient addiction treatment is still a challenging experience. In addition to a rigorous daily schedule of therapeutic interventions and treatments, patients are tasked with avoiding relapse during the critical first weeks of early recovery, while attempting to manage the stressors of day-to-day life and relationships.
For some, it’s the only option. For others, it’s the best option. Is it the right option for your family member?
Unique Experience, Unique Treatment
Svea Welch has a master’s degree in clinical psychology with a counseling specialization and a concentration in treatment of addictions from the Chicago School of Psychology. She has specialized in addiction treatment throughout her career and is currently a therapist on staff here at The Oaks at La Paloma. Welch sees outpatient therapy as a unique journey for each patient. “Some can find success in outpatient treatment,” she says, “while others benefit from higher levels of care, such as residential treatment. It is important for therapists to meet the client where they are in order to motivate them toward change and the appropriate programming.”
Because each patient has a unique perspective due to experience prior to and during addiction, his or her rehab experience should be unique as well. Outpatient therapy can explore the individual needs of each patient and provide access to diverse therapeutic options within in the community as well.
In order to meet patients where they are in terms of their readiness to move in a new direction, Welch utilizes a couple of different approaches. “I use Motivational Interviewing skills and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT),” she says. “Both are important in meeting the client where they are and moving them toward their desired goals, while providing them with skills to regulate emotions, become effective in relationships, and manage stressful situations.”
By using proven therapies like Motivational Interviewing and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, patients move at their own pace and work on the big issues that create barriers to long-term sobriety.1
Most patients struggling with addiction live in dysfunctional relationships, spend their time non-productively or even harmfully, and use drugs and/or alcohol as a sole means of managing stress. When outpatient treatment is the choice, initially, the person’s only change is stopping the drug use. Continued interaction with the stressors and situations that contributed to the addiction can make it difficult to remain sober.
As the patient returns home after treatment, he has the opportunity to put into practice the new coping mechanisms learned in therapy. Any problems or questions can be discussed during the next day’s sessions. This allows the patient to get the guidance he needs to continue moving forward.
Without round-the-clock reinforcement of new ways of thinking and behaving, family members play an important role in the treatment process. Family members must understand the addiction and how they can be a proactive part of their loved one’s recovery. This dramatically increases the patient’s ability to remain clean and sober.
There are a number of opportunities available to help family members during their addicted loved one’s outpatient treatment program. According to Welch, “outpatient treatment provides weekly family educational groups to provide support to the family, while assisting family members in the development of boundaries, effective communication and understanding enabling behaviors.”
Family therapy can also be helpful by providing the patient and his family members with a safe forum.2 In this space, they can discuss potentially explosive issues with the guidance of a therapist who can teach the positive communication skills needed to keep moving forward.
Get the Most Out of Treatment
Lasting recovery takes more than just showing up to therapy sessions on a daily basis – though getting in the door is the first step. To help strengthen the effectiveness of treatment, patients should:
- Take advantage of opportunities out in the real world to apply the coping mechanisms learned in therapy
- Create a solid community support system
- Focus on finding the balance between managing daily responsibilities and growth in recovery through treatment
- Avoid risky situations – including people, places, and things – that could trigger relapse
- Utilize community support services
- Arrive at sessions on time
- Take and active role in groups
- Do recommended homework
For most patients, drug and alcohol use is only part of the problem and, in some cases, a symptom of an underlying issue. These means recovery is more than just learning how to utilize more positive coping mechanisms in stressful situations; it’s about getting intensive treatment for all underlying or co-occurring disorders in order to be stronger in recovery. Part of dealing with co-occurring disorders is a proper diagnosis. Whether you or a loved one choose outpatient or inpatient treatment, the right diagnosis means both disorders are treated simultaneously.
Finding Treatment for Addiction
If you would like to learn more about the options available to your addicted loved one through residential or outpatient care, contact us at The Oaks at La Paloma today. We can answer your questions and help you and your loved one move a step closer to recovery and begin the healing process. Call us now.
1 “Motivational Interviewing.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 11 Dec. 2017.
2 “Family therapy.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 20 Sept. 2017.
3 Abuse, National Institute on Drug. “Treatment and Recovery.”NIDA, July 2014.