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Road to RehabOutpatient Drug Rehab Programs

When people think about rehab, they generally think about a 30-day inpatient program where people engage in group-counseling and AA meetings all day. Or maybe they think about a resort rehab that offers culinary classes, yoga, and equine therapy…but that is not a realistic solution for many people. We all have lives, responsibilities, and budgets.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

The affordable solution and possibly more effective solution is an outpatient drug rehab center. While residential treatment is the appropriate solution for some, many people seeking help for an alcohol or drug addiction problem are better served by engaging in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). While getting the same counseling and education found in more traditional addiction treatment centers, an IOP allows clients to remain living at home, maintain their job or family responsibilities, and learn how to apply the skills they are obtaining to the normal stresses of daily living as they are learning them.

Selecting an Outpatient Treatment Provider

Some of the things to look at when selecting a program are location, affordability, accreditation, curriculum, treatment philosophy, reputation, willingness to communicate on your behalf with employer/EAP/licensing board/lawyer/PO, etc., and especially in outpatient care, the frequency of urinary drug screenings for accountability. Houston is a large city with a lot of traffic and when selecting an outpatient treatment provider, it is important that the treatment center is within driving distance of your home or office and that the schedule meets you needs. Most outpatient programs for addiction meet in the evenings to meet the needs of working people, but some also offer daytime schedules. Be sure to ask about location and schedule to ensure your needs are met with minimal disruption to your life.

Cost of Treatment and Coverage Options

Importantly, outpatient drug and alcohol treatment is typically covered by health insurance plans. In most cases, insurance will pay the entire cost of the treatment program or at least a very large percentage of the cost. And for those without insurance, an outpatient treatment program is much more affordable than residential care because room, board, recreational activities, transportation and 24 hour care are not part of the cost. In fact, an intensive outpatient program for substance use disorders typically costs about 1/3 of the price of a similar inpatient treatment program.


Some providers of drug and alcohol treatment services are unlicensed and operate in violation of the law, others meet the minimal requirements set forth by the State of Texas to offer treatment services—this is the very basic and does not speak to the effectiveness or appropriateness of the services provided. The next level of certification beyond state licensure is CARF accreditation (CARF is the Commission on Accreditation or Rehabilitation Facilities), which certifies that the treatment provider meets acceptable standards for providing quality care. The gold standard in addiction treatment, however, is accreditation by The Joint Commission. The Joint Commission Gold Seal ensures that the highest standards of quality and safety of care are adhered to. Accreditation by The Joint Commission is what you should be looking for in an outpatient addiction treatment provider.

5 Principles at the Core of an Effective Substance Abuse Program

Marketing gimmicks abound, but there are five principles that should be the core of any effective substance abuse recovery program:

  1. Addiction chronic, progressive, predictable disease that is treatable;
  2. The 12-Steps are helpful, but often are not sufficient in an of themselves;
  3. Education, planning, structure, and accountability are essential;
  4. Treatment programs should work towards personal insight about chemical dependency and towards developing the motivation to make changes in lifestyle and behaviors;
  5. The treatment program itself is only the beginning and ongoing care should be available to every patient for at least the first 2 years following treatment.

Reputation and Willingness to Communicate

Many people seek out rehab programs on the advice of an attorney after receiving a DWI or during a divorce or custody proceeding; due to a recommendation by their employer or employee assistance program; based on the requirements of their professional licensing board after a substance-related event; or at the insistence of a judge or probation officer. When this is the case, it is imperative that your treatment provider is willing to communicate on your behalf to the referring party and that the treatment center has a reputation that is impeccable regarding the care given.


In an intensive outpatient program, clients are not sequestered in the walls of a rehab 24 hours a day. This means that access to drugs remains present for the client. To ensure the safety of the group and the individual clients, it is important that monitored urinary drug screenings be conducted at least twice weekly. This monitoring maintains the integrity of the process, documents adherence to the program and rules, provides a tool for the clinician to know what is happening with the individuals in the program, and allows for quick and effective interventions in the case of a positive result.

Schedule Your Appointment

Contact Us today to schedule an appointment with our partner agency for Intensive Outpatient Program for substance abuse in Houston and the surrounding areas.