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Addiction maintains a strong hold on people, even after they go through detox to remove the substance from their body. Outpatient treatment programs allow patients to live at home while attending therapy, but staying sober between outpatient visits can be a problem.

Although outpatient programs are effective, being at home exposes patients to temptations that do not exist in residential programs. Implementing strategies to manage cravings and reduce opportunities for substance use can be helpful in staying sober between outpatient appointments.

The Difficulty of Staying Sober Between Outpatient Appointments

Individuals who have decided to get treatment for a substance use disorder can choose from a variety of inpatient or outpatient options. Inpatient residential care may be the best choice for those with a severe addiction. For mild or moderate substance use disorders, outpatient care allows individuals to participate in treatment while still living at home.

However, people may experience intense cravings for the substance that can drive them back to use, or triggers caused by circumstances that are associated with substance use. Finding ways to prevent relapse should be an integral part of any outpatient treatment program.

Medications to Reduce Cravings

In some cases, medication may be prescribed to prevent withdrawal and offset the severe cravings that often drive people back to substance use. A variety of medications are used for this purpose, and they can be an effective way to help in staying sober between outpatient appointments. With supervised use of these medications, patients can often achieve a successful recovery from addiction, and they can be an important factor in staying sober between outpatient appointments.

Counseling for Dual Diagnosis Problems

Patients with a dual diagnosis experience mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorders, in addition to a substance use disorder. These disorders may have contributed to their substance abuse problem or resulted from it. Individual counseling can be an important factor in helping people with a dual diagnosis. They often require individual counseling and medications to help them begin to heal.1

Attending Groups to Support Recovery

Attendance at support groups is critical for patients in recovery.2 These groups provide the social support of other people at various stages in the recovery process who can offer practical advice for the day-to-day problems of dealing with addiction. Support groups ensure that compassionate help is always available when dealing with the struggles of recovery and can be instrumental in staying sober between outpatient appointments.

Implementing Healthy Living Skills

The periods between outpatient treatment appointments can be used to develop healthier living skills that will help individuals manage cravings and promote a healthier lifestyle. Regular exercise is an effective way to reduce cravings and improve general health.3

Learning to eat and cook healthier foods can also help to reverse some of the physical damage and promote good health. Spending time with non-using family and friends improves social skills and helps patients in treatment to develop a healthy support system for recovery and in staying sober between outpatient appointments.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, professional outpatient treatment centers can offer intensive programs that help individuals learn the skills they need to recover from addiction and return to a healthy, productive life.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64094/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3753023/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276339/
Strategies for Staying Sober Between Outpatient Appointments
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