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The work of overcoming an addiction is challenging for anyone at any stage in their life. For parents with a drug or alcohol problem, however, there is the added concern of how to continue to care for their families and hold down a job while they work to get sober. Fortunately, thanks to outpatient treatment programs, working parents have an option that allows them to pursue their sobriety while still keeping their job and caring for their children.

Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab programs provide a structured environment that eliminates distractions and teaches addicts to develop positive new habits and navigate triggers. An inpatient program can certainly be a positive way to break the cycle of addiction. However, inpatient treatment may not be the best option for parents since it requires them to be away from their children for at least a 30-day period.

An outpatient treatment program also offers a way to connect with others on a journey to sobriety. Outpatient rehab provides support groups and group therapy to help establish a long-lasting support system that can be called upon throughout an individual’s recovery process.

Most critically for working parents, however, outpatient treatment provides more flexible schedules and allows them to attend treatment while attending to their family and career.

Researchers have evaluated the two types of programs to determine if one is more effective than the other. They have concluded that for individuals who do not require medical detoxification or 24-hour supervision, outpatient treatment for substance abuse is as effective as an inpatient program.

To recap, inpatient rehab programs:

  • Typically cost more than outpatient
  • Provide 24-hour medical care
  • Require a time commitment from 28 days to six months
  • Work well for serious addictions
  • Remove everyday distractions

Outpatient rehab programs:

  • Typically are more affordable than inpatient
  • Offer a social support network
  • Take place over a period of three months to a year
  • Work well for mild to moderate addiction
  • Require 10 to 12 hours a week on average

Picking the Best Treatment Option

Trying to stop drinking or using drugs is difficult, and the odds of success are much higher when someone opts for a treatment program rather than trying to quit on their own. But deciding which treatment option is best will depend on the individual and their current situation.

For working parents who cannot leave their jobs or children to attend an inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment can provide much-needed help. It’s important to note that outpatient treatment has multiple levels of care.

For instance, some programs offer day treatment that meets as much as five days a week for a significant period of time, usually five to eight hours each day. If that schedule is too restrictive, other outpatient options typically meet two to three days a week for around three hours, providing greater flexibility. If individuals need a lower level of care, they can attend a program that meets only one or two days a week for about 90 minutes each session.

Anyone considering outpatient treatment must honestly evaluate their situation, their needs, and their options to determine what form of rehab will work best for them.

What to Expect in Rehab

An outpatient rehab program begins with the creation of a treatment plan that will guide the individual through detox and therapy. For an individual with a mild addiction, outpatient detox is possible, allowing them to recover in their home environment. Home detox is not recommended for individuals who are recovering from benzodiazepines or alcohol, as withdrawal from these substances can be life-threatening.

The next step is to educate the individual about their drug or alcohol abuse and teach them how to live life without addictive substances. Individual and group counseling sessions form a key part of the process and provide additional support as the person learns to navigate the world sober.

Someone attending outpatient rehab can also get additional support via 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), as well as peer support groups through their treatment program.

What to Say to Children

How can someone help their child understand why they need outpatient treatment? What can a parent say so the child doesn’t place any blame for the addiction on themselves?

The first step is to educate yourself about addiction and the treatment process. This will make it easier for you to explain and answer any questions your children may have. Here are other guidelines that may be helpful:

  • Use age-appropriate language that kids will understand.
  • Pick a calm time, free of distractions, to have the conversation.
  • Acknowledge any pain your children may have experienced and how addiction has impacted them.
  • Apologize if the child has been hurt.
  • Be honest and open to questions.
  • Emphasize this is not their fault.

Remember that seeking addiction treatment — whether inpatient or outpatient — can be one of the most positive steps you can take for yourself, your family, and your loved ones.

If you or someone you love needs help with addiction, the licensed professionals at Into Action Recovery can help. Our multidisciplinary staff works closely with each client to develop a customized plan for overcoming their addiction that prepares them for long-term sobriety. This targeted treatment addresses each client’s individual needs, identifying the tools and resources that can lead them to continued success.

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