Outpatient addiction treatment can be offered through a partial hospitalization program (PHP) or through individual counseling and group therapy programs. Outpatient treatment is convenient for many people because it allows them to return home or to sober living after treatment. It’s a great follow-up to inpatient rehab treatment and creates a continuum of care after more intense therapies. Outpatient treatment can reduce the risk of relapse if it is used correctly.
However, there is one drawback to outpatient treatment. The level of freedom that comes with outpatient treatment may open the door to more temptations and risks than inpatient therapy. It is simply easier to reconnect with the people, places, and things that are tied to addiction when you can leave treatment overnight. For this reason, many people actually elect to receive drug testing during outpatient treatment. Drug testing helps maintain accountability, it may help you resist temptation, and it may help you prove to your loved ones just how serious you are about wellness.
“Sobriety is not always easy and life can be even harder, but I have discovered that I now have the tools to meet life on life’s terms. I hope again, and I have laughter. It wasn’t too long ago that I had neither. Therefore, this addict is going to continue to trudge the road to her happy destiny, one day at a time, one hour at a time and sometimes, one minute at a time.”
Why Drug Testing Is Important in Treatment
The initial assessment when entering a drug treatment program often involves drug testing. Drug testing is a recommended practice by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, so it is featured in many treatment plans.1
Drug testing helps clinicians better determine and diagnose the severity of the addiction or abuse.
Without testing, treatment professionals are more or less left in the dark about how far the condition has progressed and exactly what substances have been used. It is imperative to drug test throughout treatment, as this can serve as a marker for the current status and success of each patient’s abstinence. Drug testing in outpatient treatment isn’t necessarily a matter of trust or mistrust, and it’s definitely not about shaming a person. Treatment is about maintaining abstinence and working on skills to cope with the effects of a life after drugs or alcohol. Testing is essential in determining benchmarks of success and personal growth.
You may ask why drug testing is necessary. “I’ve been clean for six months!” you might say, or “I’m entering treatment because I’m addicted to drugs, why test me?” While it does help your treatment team determine your care, drug testing has other advantages, many of which may not be immediately obvious to you.
You may wonder if you could be punished for a failed drug test. It is important to know that the results of your drug test will not be shared, unless a judge or court order has mandated your testing as a condition of parole or other sentence. In most cases, your drug testing is simply designed to help you communicate honestly and safely with your treatment team, and with yourself.
Drug testing does the following:
- Helps determine your initial treatment plan and its evolution. Testing at different intervals of the treatment process allows clinicians to tailor your recovery plan to your progress.
- Allows you to celebrate your success. Drug testing can serve as positive reinforcement for your achievements. Getting sober from drugs or alcohol isn’t easy, and testing offers you an observable, measurable example of your hard work.
- Increases the likelihood of abstinence. There are few ways to “cheat” a drug test, especially complex testing, such as those that test hair follicles. If an individual knows that he or she is going to be tested, the likelihood of that person using will decrease.
- Reestablishes the trust of family and friends. When a person uses drugs or alcohol, the lives of those around him or her are often dramatically affected. Relationships can break down as a result of lost trust. Drug testing will allow you to show marked progress in abstinence and gain back the trust of those you love.
- Increases the reliability and accuracy of a person’s own success report. Sometimes the biggest critic we have is our own self. Our brain can rationalize just about anything and make small victories seem grandiose or big slip-ups seem like nothing. Testing helps both you and your treatment team more accurately assess your success.
- Helps you maintain your physical health. Testing is often done by a medical professional, and ongoing drug testing will allow you easier access to health care. It puts you closer to learning more about your own body and health, and gets you a little closer to sources of ongoing healthcare and wellness.
Addiction isn’t a simple disease and that it can happen to anyone. The best way to know if you will be drug tested in treatment is to speak with your treatment team or admissions coordinator before treatment. Don’t let concerns about drug testing stop you from living your best life. Call 855-317-8377 now.
1 American Society of Addiction Medicine. "Drug Testing as a Component of Addiction Treatment and Monitoring Programs and in Other Clinical Settings." 1 Oct 2010.
2 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US). Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 47., Chapter 4. "Services in Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs." 2006.