Article 12 - In or Outpatient Services

Drug Treatment – In or Out?

Often clients relapse shortly after discharge from an inpatient rehab program, as they have not learnt how to deal with life on life’s terms

What is outpatient treatment?

  • Clients attend a number of sessions per week at the centre for approximately 6 – 8 weeks, and do not live in;
  • For example, at Cape Town Drug Counselling centre, clients attend groups, lectures and individual sessions every week, with options to attend further services like aromatherapy if they have time. Family are included in some aspects of the program;
  • Fees at outpatient centres are generally very low, e.g. a small weekly fee with an option to donate more if able

What is inpatient treatment?

  • Clients live in the facility for approximately 3 - 4 weeks, and attend various therapeutic sessions;
  • Clients also take part in group activities such as walks, and live as a community, e.g. assisting with chores;
  • Fees at private inpatient centres are high & thus mostly only accessible to those with medical aid cover, but there is no waiting period;
  • State inpatient rehab centres are either free or subsidized, but have waiting lists which are usually months long.


When is outpatient treatment preferable?

  • Families tend to believe that inpatient treatment is best because the client is being kept in a safe place, and cannot get drugs. In fact, outpatient treatment is more effective in most cases. It enables the person to learn how to cope with recovery in their normal environment, e.g. dealing with emotions in the family; and high-risk situations which could trigger their drug-use;
  • Outpatient treatment is much less costly than private inpatient programs;
  • There is usually no waiting period for admission to outpatient programs;
  • The person does not interrupt school/ work / family commitments;
  • Family live nearby, thus it is easier for them to take part in the program.

When is inpatient treatment preferable?

  • Inpatient treatment is acknowledged as the best approach for heroin addicts, who usually struggle more & need assistance with detox;
  •  Inpatient treatment is also appropriate for those who have tried an outpatient program but are struggling as outpatients.


Families should set aside the notion of a “quick fix”- the belief that locking their addict up for a period of time will solve the problem. Recovery is a lifelong process, and learning how to manage it in one’s normal environment has great advantages.


At CTDCC we offer an outpatient program but also assist with inpatient referrals when required.

Contact us on:


021 – 4478027