What Is Outpatient Detox? How Does It Work?

What is Outpatient Detox? How is it Different?

There are several levels of care in addiction treatment. But all of them, including outpatient detox, fall into one of two categories. Inpatient and Outpatient. Inpatient treatment means a patient will remain in the treatment center facility 24-hours a day. They receive treatment during the day, eat all three meals there, and sleep at the rehab or detox at night. They may leave as part of a group for activities or outside meetings sometimes, but for the most part, they stay at the facility. There are a wide variety of outpatient treatment options. When it comes to addiction treatment, outpatient care technically just means that the patient does not stay overnight and sleep in a clinical facility. Under that umbrella, you have a wide range of choices.

The Spectrum of Outpatient Addiction Treatment Options

As mentioned earlier, there is a wide range of addiction treatment services that fall under the outpatient category. The least intensive is basic outpatient counseling which might occur for 1 hour a week. That counseling may happen in a group or individual format and doesn’t include a detox portion. The most intensive form of outpatient addiction treatment is what’s called an Intensive Outpatient Program or IOP. This usually consists of at least 3-4 days a week of treatment for several hours at a time. An IOP is one step down from a Partial Hospitalization Program or PHP. A PHP is about as intensive as it gets before you get into a fully immersive residential inpatient program with 24-hour medical supervision. PHP treatment isn’t usually thought of as outpatient by most people because they are spending the majority of their day in treatment, even if they don’t sleep at a medical facility overnight.

Outpatient Detox vs. Inpatient Detox

Drug detox is a medical service by nature. It must be under some sort of medical supervision by trained professionals. Any drug detox you can do at home without ever seeing a doctor or nurse isn’t really a detox at all. Inpatient detox is the most comfortable and safest option. If you’re lucky enough to be able to get one, that is the route you should usually go. Inpatient detoxes have medical staff present 24-hours a day.

If you have an adverse reaction or just have uncomfortable symptoms, such as not being able to sleep, or being anxious, they can respond immediately They can continuously fine-tune your treatment to keep you as comfortable as possible. In the case of benzodiazepine or alcohol withdrawal, deadly seizures can be a serious risk. Inpatient treatment keeps a patient under observation and medicated. The medications will prevent most seizures in the first place, but if one were to occur, you have doctors and nurses just a step away to make the person safe.

Advantages of Inpatient Detox:

  • 24-hour medical supervision for safety.
  • Clinicians can adjust treatment to symptoms in real-time.
  • The patient is more likely to stay comfortable and be able to rest and sleep.
  • The person is much less likely to relapse during treatment.

When is Outpatient Detox Appropriate?

You may be wondering when does the outpatient detox option makes sense? This is a personal decision, but it’s one that should always be made by consulting a medical professional with training in addiction care. Only a doctor, nurse or physician’s assistant who has done or seen a complete evaluation of the patient can help you make a fully informed decision. The clinician needs to know exactly what drugs a person is on, how much they are taking, how often and the person’s medical history, including any past history of seizures, for example.

What Determines if an Outpatient Detox is Sufficient?

  • What type of drugs the person is using, i.e. (benzodiazepines, alcohol, opioids, etc.)
  • Whether or not the person is combining more than one type of drug.
  • Quantity/dosage of drugs the patient takes and how often (How much do they use? Is it every day? More than once a day?)
  • The patient’s age and relative physical health. (Someone who is older or unhealthy could be at a greater risk of complications)
  • Medical history, especially any past history of seizures or other complications when detoxing from drugs or alcohol.
  • In addition to their medical history, how long the patient has been using drugs and/or drinking is a factor. (i.e. 1 year, 5 years? 10? 20?)

Harmony Can Help

Outpatient detox can be a viable option for people who aren’t taking too much of a drug for too long and are in relatively good physical health. While imperfect, it can be the answer for someone who simply cannot miss any work or school, but really wants to get off a drug. Suboxone is a common medication for outpatient opioid detox. Other types of drugs or alcohol call for different detox methods. Call Harmony Health Group at (828) 347-9322 if you have any questions about outpatient detox. We can help with evaluations and let you know where your health insurance benefits may help you get the help you need.