Over the past several years, there has been a rise in the rates of drug addiction and overdose deaths in the United States. This has to do with a variety of factors, including an influx in illicit drugs, an increase in prescription opioids, and many other issues. The problem of addiction has created public health problems all over the country, even in the Sunshine States. Florida has a large population and several major ports that are often the target of the illegal drug trade. 

Addiction can have a serious impact on the individuals that have the disease. It can damage your physical health, mental health, relationships, finances, and legal standing. However, addiction can also have an impact on communities and states. Public health problems can affect the overall health care costs that are associated with treating the problem. Addiction also has costs associated with crime and law enforcement. People that have addictions not only fall into drug-related crimes, they’re also more likely to become the victims of crimes. 

However, addiction and substance use problems can be treated. Outpatient treatment is a form of addiction treatment that involves treatment during the day while you live at home at night. Who can benefit from outpatient treatment, and how does it work? Learn more about outpatient treatment in Florida.

Florida Addiction Statistics

There were 4,698 drug overdose deaths in Florida in 2018. Around 68% involved opioids. Opioid overdose and opioid use problems are sometimes linked to prescription drugs. Prescription opioids like oxycontin and hydromorphone can cause dependence and addiction problems when they’re misused. Using the drug without a prescription, taking the drug in high doses, or even taking a prescription for too long can lead to a substance use problem. 

However, a substance use problem that involves prescription drugs can be expensive and difficult to maintain. Many people switch to using heroin, which is cheaper and easier to find. In 2018, Florida’s prescribers wrote slightly more opioid prescriptions than the national average. Floridians have prescribed 53.7 opioids for every 100 people, while the national average is around 51.4. As the opioid problem grew in public awareness, the overprescription of opioids has begun to go down. 

Addiction is also related to other health concerns, like neonatal abstinence syndrome and the spread of infectious diseases. Neonatal abstinence syndrome is when a baby is born in withdrawal because they were born to mothers with substance use problems. These babies and mothers often require extra care and longer hospital stays than the average birth. Florida saw 7.3 cases of neonatal abstinence syndrome per 1,000 hospital births.

Addiction can also increase your risk of contracting an infectious disease like hepatitis or HIV, especially when intravenous drug use is involved. In Florida, there were 110,034 cases of HIV in 2017, and a significant number of these were contracted through intravenous drug use.

What is Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment for substance use disorders involves therapies and interventions that you can attend during the day while you live independently at night. This is as opposed to inpatient treatment which involves 24-hour care and residential services. There are three levels of outpatient treatment that are separated by the amount of time you spend in treatment each week. The three levels include partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment. Partial hospitalization involves more than 20 hours of treatment services each week, intensive outpatient treatment is nine or more hours of treatment each week, and outpatient treatment involves fewer than nine hours of treatment each week. 

Outpatient treatment that involves fewer than nine hours of weekly treatment services is the lowest level of care in formal addiction treatment, but it plays an important role in the recovery process. As in higher levels of care, you will continue to go through a treatment plan that’s tailored to your individual needs, and it may involve things like group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, or behavioral therapies.

You may also spend more time discussing practical applications for your relapse prevention plan. In inpatient treatment, you’ll address the roots of your addiction and begin to lay the foundation of your relapse prevention plan. But in outpatient treatment, you’ll spend more time independent of treatment, going about your daily life. You may be confronted with challenges that you can address in treatment. Outpatient treatment may be an essential level of care for many people who need to adjust and adapt their relapse prevention strategy to the real-world challenges that they face. 

Who is Outpatient Treatment For?

When you are admitted into a substance use disorder treatment program, you will go through an important assessment process that’s designed to investigate your needs and how they can be met in treatment. Addiction treatment professionals may use the ASAM Criteria to help find the right level of care for your needs. The ASAM Criteria is a set of six factors that are important to consider in addiction treatment. These factors were outlined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Based on the criteria, someone that can be placed in outpatient treatment may have the following traits:

  • Low acute withdrawal and intoxication potential. The first factor in the criteria involves your potential to go through serious withdrawal symptoms. If you go through detox or if you’re not likely to go through potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, outpatient treatment can be a safer option for you than for someone that will go through acute withdrawal. 
  • No severe biomedical conditions or complications. Safety is a top priority in addiction treatment. Treatment programs often follow Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with serious medical needs and physical comfort placed high on the list of priorities. If you’re likely to experience serious medical conditions or complications that need to be addressed, you may need inpatient treatment or hospitalizations. 
  • No severe emotional, behavioral, or cognitive conditions. Of course, most people that go through treatment will have some mental health issues or behavioral problems to work through. But if psychological issues put your safety or sobriety at risk, you may need a higher level of care than outpatient treatment.
  • Readiness to change. People come to treatment with different levels of awareness of their need to make a change in their lives. Some may even be resistant to change, especially in cases when people come to treatment to appease family members or court orders. People in outpatient treatment will have accepted that they need to change, and they may have already taken action in making that change happen.
  • Low relapse or continued use potential. Relapse is always a potential threat, and recovery is a lifelong process. But some people may be more likely to relapse or continue using drugs than others. Someone in outpatient treatment should have some relapse prevention strategies already in place to lower their risk for relapse. If you’re having strong cravings with no way to prevent yourself from falling back into active use, you may need inpatient treatment. 
  • Healthy living environment. Someone in outpatient treatment should have a living environment that doesn’t threaten their sobriety. Living with supportive family members, sober living housing, or other health situations is ideal for someone in outpatient treatment. If you have no place to live, if you live with abusive people, or if you live with people that still use, you may need residential services. 

Where Does Outpatient Treatment Fit in the Continuum of Care?

The outpatient treatment represents the lower levels of care in addiction treatment with residential and inpatient at the high levels of care. Treatment may start with medical detox or medically managed care that involves medical and clinical care 24-hours per day. Inpatient and residential treatment follows detox and still involves 24-hours of access to treatment services each day. However, care will be less intensive and may only involve medical monitoring or clinically managed services. 

When you can live on your own, considering the factors listed above, you may move on to outpatient treatment. Partial hospitalization is the most intensive level of outpatient addiction treatment. This specific treatment level involves 20 hours or more of treatment services every week. This level of care is for people that can live on their own without jeopardizing their health or sobriety but need plenty of clinical support each week. Intensive outpatient treatment guidelines indicate that you will be involved in more than nine hours of treatment services per week. 

As you make significant progress in your recovery, you may move on to outpatient treatment with fewer than nine hours of services each week. At this level, you’re able to spend more time pursuing your goals and attending to responsibilities in your daily life. While you encounter challenges, you can address them in weekly therapy sessions.

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