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RECO Intensive
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Transitioning from Inpatient to Outpatient Rehab: Pitfalls & Best Practices

While 2.5 million individuals started treatment for addiction at a specialty facility for substance use in 2012, it is estimated that this accounts for less than 11% of those recovering addicts who needed an inpatient rehab or intensive outpatient program. While choosing between inpatient and outpatient care to help you stay sober after rehab is a personal decision, one of the most successful courses of treatment, in terms of outcome, is a combination of the two.

For individuals who are ready to leave a successful inpatient drinking or drug rehab in Florida, a smooth transition to outpatient treatment offers continued support while an addict is returning to work and family life. In addition, outpatient care offers other evidence-based therapies and counseling to help prevent relapse during this critical time.

For those who chose to go away to an inpatient drug rehab facility to get past the initial withdrawal symptoms, a recent study showed that the 14% who followed up with outpatient programs had better outcomes than those who did not. Remember, having a good understanding of the options within this process will help you decide which path will be most successful in your unique situation.

What’s the Difference Between Inpatient Treatment and Outpatient Therapy?

Residential treatment facilities for drugs or alcohol are also known as inpatient rehab. This path to recovery starts with 24/7 supervision and medical care to support detox and protect against relapse during the initial phases of recovery. Diagnosing and treating any co-occurring medical conditions and breaking free of old triggers and peer groups will likely be part of the focus of this stage of treatment programs.

Individuals are provided with safe, sober housing but usually are not able to leave the facility to attend work or school. After 60 or 90 days, or longer depending on the program, residents are ready to continue their recovery journeys outside the facility, but they will still need support, resources, and counseling to complete their treatment programs while at home.

Intensive outpatient programs can also be the starting point of recovery for those people who do not need the 24-hour supervision or supervised medication of stricter rehab programs. Offering group therapy and individual counseling at several required sessions per week can provide enough support to allow many people to conquer their withdrawal symptoms and remain in their own safe and sober home.

Outpatient programs make a perfect follow-up for residential rehab by keeping consistent goals and a unified treatment plan to help the individual transition back into their social world smoothly and with confidence. They will help you stay sober after rehab by providing a bridge between treatment programs and long term sobriety from drugs or alcohol, giving time for you to build healthy habits.

Which Is the Right Fit?

Outpatient rehab programs have these advantages for individuals:

  • Ability to continue an outside job
  • More flexible scheduling
  • Ability to continue taking care of children or family members
  • An available social network of sober friends, peers and mentors
  • Living at home in a safe and sober environment rather than away
  • Lower costs of treatment programs
  • Available medical care for co-occurring mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or PTSD

Inpatient residential facilities provide individuals with:

  • Greater supervision
  • Complete separation from the environment where the addiction began
  • Protection from relapse by eliminating triggers and possible access to drug or alcohol
  • Safe and sober housing for those who do not have this type of living situation in their former lifestyle
  • More structure and control of daily activity
  • 24/7 focus on treatment for addiction
  • Replacement medication for drugs like heroin administered under supervision to help you stay sober by alleviating physical withdrawal symptoms

Both treatment starting points will:

  • Help you work through the drug and alcohol detox process of early recovery
  • Provide support, structure, and accountability
  • Prepare you to reach your job and family goals after treatment
  • Teach methodologies and provide coaching to guide you to a long term sobriety


Inpatient Care to Outpatient Recovery

Moving from Inpatient Drug Or Alcohol Addiction Care to Outpatient Addiction Recovery

As patients move out of inpatient facilities, they are required to have a continuing treatment plan. Very often this includes an intensive outpatient program to help manage cravings and prevent addiction relapse.

As you transition from complete supervision to personal responsibility in life after rehab, there will be challenges. Outpatient treatment is designed to help you deal with everyday triggers and temptations. Here’s how:

Providing structure in the outside world. Returning from the secure and structured environment of an inpatient rehabilitation residence can be a culture shock. Without any treatment structure or guidance, there can be too much stress, anxiety, and confusing feelings to deal with by yourself.

However, preventing addiction relapse during the transition back to society is possible. With proven tools, 12 step support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, and community resources available, it becomes possible to get the advice and support you need to deal with cravings, triggers, and peer pressure to help you stay sober after rehab.

Redefining yourself is a process that begins after drug and alcohol detox. Choosing your own lifestyle changes is crucial, but a helping hand to reach those goals will be essential during this transitional time. Making it to that next good thing is hard work, but your outpatient rehab can smooth the way and provide you with connections and opportunities.

Re-establishing relationships with friends and family members is both an intimidating challenge and a strong motivator for long term change. Your intensive outpatient therapy will be especially valuable in teaching you the relationship and life skills needed to stop destructive anxiety cycles and regain the trust and respect of those you love.

Easing the Transition

Even though outpatient aftercare has been shown to help patients reach their post-treatment planning goals and to improve addiction outcomes in general, it is not always possible to receive both types of care from the same rehab organization. Discharge planning might be vague and patients may need to seek out their own addiction aftercare treatment and recovery support.

A smooth hand-off is the ideal scenario, with a treatment plan that includes measurable goals and milestones. At first, intensive therapy sessions will be needed several times per week, then, as the milestones are met, the time spent in drug abuse treatment will be reduced slowly.

Eventually, the strong support systems built and the evidence of success will carry you forward with your own confidence and momentum. Your recovery will continue under your own direction, and structured treatment for addiction will no longer be needed.

Avoiding the Pitfalls

Which behaviors may stall or derail your recovery when you step out on your own? Addressing these concerns is part of outpatient life after rehab:

  • Not maintaining a daily schedule that includes treatment
  • Missing or avoiding 12 step support group sessions or individual counseling
  • Not making progress on plans to return to job, school, or family commitments
  • Falling back into old habits, negative thinking, and destructive actions
  • Putting oneself in situations involving drug or alcohol use
  • Not returning to treatment after a slip or minor relapse

Signs Of Relapse

Life after rehab and in the real world will have its challenges, which may include temptation to use drugs or drink alcohol. Unfortunately, relapse may happen in early recovery, when you may find that you are still vulnerable to the influence of your addiction. To develop a long term approach to addiction recovery and maintain sobriety, people in recovery will have to stay alert to anything that might trigger a relapse and practice different helpful strategies to stay sober even when you do face temptation.

Stress and anxiety are a common trigger for relapse into addiction, so make an effort to create healthy habits and strategies you may find that you can use instead when you might face temptation to use drugs.

These may include anything to do instead that can take your mind off of your problems, like healthy hobbies or people in recovery you can connect to. Exercise can help you build strength and confidence as well as take your mind off a potential addiction trigger.

Try keeping a list of sober friends you can visit or call on the phone or 12 step support groups you can visit instead if you do notice signs of relapse and are having a hard time resisting thoughts of drinking alcohol or drugs.

Remember, whatever thoughts you are struggling with, however uncomfortable they are at the beginning, you shouldn’t lose faith that you can make your way to a sober life. Eventually you will learn to manage any trigger as you build different ways to cope with stress and problems alone. Feel free to contact us and ask for help or information if you ever do find yourself getting worried about your ability to fend off a relapse into addiction.

Embracing Best Practices

With proven therapies and evidence-based wellness treatment methods, innovative outpatient programs provide healing for the entire person. Mind, body, and spirit can be healed with these best practices:

  • Achieving mental stability and a strong foundation of personal awareness
  • Accepting accountability and responsibility for one’s actions
  • Transitioning to independent sobriety and self-direction
  • Making and keeping new commitments with solid planning for success
  • Continuing to attend 12 step support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and to nurture relationships with sober friends and family members
  •  Being proactive about signs of relapse and avoid anything that might trigger relapse into old habits
  • Following proven strategies for maintaining sobriety you have learned from counselors and treatment programs instead of trying to figure things out alone
  • Mastering the skills of recovery in the real world and reawakening joy in life
  • Embracing healthy habits and hobbies to heal your mind and being open to new sober experiences
  • Getting enough exercise and keeping your physical and mental health in order at all times


women with specialized addiction recovery treatment

Exploring Options with Solid Support

If you are or a loved one is considering treatment centers in Florida, RECO Intensive’s intensive outpatient program provides the most innovative tools and group therapies to heal addiction’s lingering effects. Empowering you to return to work, home, and family life after inpatient treatment while protecting your progress, RECO Intensive provides all the necessary support and resources you need to succeed.

If there is no need for medical detox or if inpatient rehab is already complete, their intensive recovery program strengthens your commitment to sober living, smooths the transition, and helps transcend the remaining obstacles in the road to a healthy fulfilling life. They are committed to helping you keep your job and support your family while you make an empowering life change.

Our network of alumni can also help you stay sober after rehab by giving people in recovery a built in place to be social and make sober friends and learn new sober strategies.

If you call us on the phone today on behalf of yourself or a family member, you can ask questions, find out more and explore your options without making a commitment and while staying anonymous. You can also contact us using this form, have a live online chat right now, or contact us via a confidential phone call at 561-464-6533 to take the next step forward to a better way of life.


  1. https://archive.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2012SummNatFindDetTables/NationalFindings/NSDUHresults2012.htm#ch7.3
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2633717/

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