24 Hour Helpline: (888) 450-2701

Can I Still Go to Work or School While in Outpatient Rehab?

college students chatting in the campus

If you’re considering rehab, you’re probably also considering if it conflicts with your obligations. For example, if you have to go to work or school, stopping either for 1-3 months to get the medical care you need can seem like a big investment. For that reason, many people actually try to delay substance abuse treatment until after graduating or until they can reasonably take vacation, etc.

The good news is that even if you don’t want to or can’t take a break from your work or school obligations, you can get treatment. Outpatient rehab or outpatient addiction treatment means you can get care in the mornings, evenings, or on the weekends – allowing you to maintain your responsibilities while still getting the medical care you need. Of course, there are pros and cons and outpatient programs aren’t right for everyone.

Stairway Recovery Center will work with you to ensure that your program meets your needs and is fully tailored to your recovery – or recommend you into an inpatient program if you need one.

What is an Outpatient Program

An outpatient program is any program in which you receive addiction treatment without staying at a clinic. Instead, you visit the clinic on a recurring basis to receive a set number of hours of therapy, group therapy, counseling, and medical treatment. That’s broken into:

PHP – Partial hospitalization programs mean that you spend the first part of the treatment in a clinic, typically for detox purposes. This allows you to get the medical care you need to avoid withdrawal symptoms or side-effects, without impacting your work or school for the long-term.

OP – A standard outpatient program involves 2-5 days of treatment per week, with 1-4 hours of treatment per day. This program means you can visit the clinic during set hours and then leave, sleep in your own home, and return the next day after finishing your obligations. Stairway offers:

  • Morning programs (E.g., the program ends before 9 AM)
  • Afternoon programs (you get treatment while kids are in school)
  • Evening programs (Treatment starts after 6 PM)
  • Weekend programs (You have two intensive days of treatment per week and nothing during the week)

IOP – An intensive outpatient program means that you visit your program daily, typically for about 30 hours of total treatment per week. This can be difficult to pair with a full-time job. It can also cause extra stress with school as you might not have time to study or free time. Therefore, if you plan to work or study full time during treatment, you probably want a lighter program.

What’s Included in an Outpatient Program?

If you’re attending Stairway recovery services, you’ll have a program tailored to your specific needs. However, in general, you’ll receive treatment including:

  • Behavioral Therapy – Our programs center around evidence-based treatment like cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectal behavioral therapy, and Eye-movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy.
  • Counseling – Outpatient services offer full contact with counselors who can help you with cravings, with changing behavior patterns, with dealing with cravings, with finding new coping mechanisms, and much more.
  • Group Therapy – You’ll always get group therapy as a large part of your treatment, allowing you to connect with your peers, learn about behavior, and move forward as a group.

The exact ratio of program offerings will depend on your mental health, your specific problems, and how you move through our program.

Get Your Questions Answered Now

Can You Go to Work During Outpatient Treatment

Your outpatient treatment program means that you can continue your obligations such as work, school, or even childcare.

If you go to a partial hospitalization program, you’ll have to spend at least some time in a clinic. However, most of our offerings mean that you can simply continue attending work or school. For example, if you have to be at work at 9, you can opt to go to rehab before work or after it. You can also opt for a weekend program. Most are about 20-30 hours per week, but programs can be adjusted to as little as 3 hours per week.

However, this does mean that you’ll have the vast majority of your free time full. If you have a 40 hour per week job plus a 30 hour per week outpatient treatment program, you’ll have to spend about 10 hours every weekday either in work or school and rehab. That can be a lot to deal with. For that reason, you might want to be able to opt to step treatment down and go at a slower pace if you’re unable to manage.

man in front of his laptop back at work after treatment

Are Outpatient Programs Right for Everyone?

Intensive outpatient treatment is effective, convenient, and allows you to get the medical help you need without giving up your work or school obligations or goals. That can be a powerful option for anyone who’s struggling with drugs or alcohol but not yet ready to take a break from the world. However, they aren’t right for everyone.

If you have a very heavy addiction, you might want to go to an inpatient treatment program first. In addition, if you can’t manage your time, outpatient treatment might not be right for you.

Even if you have a relatively light outpatient treatment program, you’ll still spend an average of 2-4 hours per day in treatment – or your entire weekend. If you also have to deal with work, home chores, family responsibilities, or worse a turbulent family, that can be extremely demanding. It’s a good idea to discuss your home life, your energy levels, and your stress management skills with your consultant when moving into an outpatient treatment program.

However, many programs are designed around these expectations. You will get help with stress management as you move through the program. You’ll also have a program that’s tailored around trying to fit treatment into your lifestyle, so you do still have time to relax, time to catch your breath, and time to actually absorb what you’re learning.

Outpatient treatment is generally thought of as the best option for most people in terms of costs and convenience. And, if you end up needing additional help, need fewer hours per week, etc., you can always adjust your treatment program.

Getting Help

female client consulting an addiction treatment expert from outpatient treatment program

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, it’s important to get help. If you have to continue going to school or work, or don’t want to take the breaks that would allow you to go to inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment can be an excellent option. In addition, outpatient treatment is effective and can help you to stop using substances, to build better coping mechanisms, and to maintain abstinence. Because most programs are 2-4 hours per day or just on the weekends, you can also do so without quitting your job, taking a long break from work, or delaying graduating. And, that’s also true if you’re caring for kids, pets, or parents or grandparents – you won’t have to give up your responsibilities in order to get help for yourself. That can be immensely freeing as you look into treatment.

You’ll still have to make time for your outpatient treatment. That can involve a significant amount of prioritization and giving up free time. However, those 1-6 months of giving up your time for your recovery will help you improve the rest of your life. Good luck moving into treatment.

If you or a loved one is seeking help for alcohol or other substance abuse, contact us at Stairway Resource Center today. At Stairway Resource Center we provide a 60 to 90-day outpatient program that takes place in an engaging and supportive community setting. We offer dual diagnosis treatment and daily group and individual therapy for our clients, in addition to fun community-based events and activities.

Ready to Get Started on Your Journey to Long-Term Recovery?

Learn More About Our Admissions Process or Call Now to Speak With a Treatment Expert

Our Accreditations

Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken in place of medical advice. Before making any decisions regarding your health, please consult your doctor. The staff at Stairway Resource Center develops a custom treatment plan for each of our patients. Specific medical advice will be provided to our patients by our professional providers while in our care.