Managing Medications During Outpatient Treatment

When you are getting treatment for substance abuse or co-occurring mental health disorders, you might be prescribed medication for one or both. When you are prescribed medication during an outpatient treatment plan, it’s incumbent upon you to manage your medications effectively and use them when and where appropriate. But how do you do this? Keep reading to learn more about safely managing medications during outpatient treatment.

Managing Medications During Outpatient Treatment

When you transition into outpatient treatment, you are no longer residing at the treatment facility, which means you no longer have someone else responsible for administering your medication and ensuring you get the right medication at the right time.

This represents a significant change for many people, and learning how to manage your medications can be important. Managing medications doesn’t just mean taking them at the right time. It also means monitoring how effective they are and reporting when there are any negative side effects.


One thing you can do when managing medications during outpatient treatment is to keep a journal. While in recovery, especially in an outpatient or aftercare program, you may not have frequent meetings with your doctor or psychiatrist. 

In this case, it is up to you to keep a journal or other documentation that monitors the efficacy of the medications you are prescribed.

For example:

Thomas is struggling with recovery from alcoholism and severe anxiety. He was prescribed anti-anxiety medication and told that it wouldn’t have a noticeable impact on his symptoms for several weeks but that he was to continue taking it even if he didn’t think it was working.

Thomas kept a journal during his outpatient treatment with simple annotations to describe his mood, his symptoms, and their severity. He also kept note of when he took his medication and how much he took so that he could ensure he was adhering to his prescription.

One morning, Thomas forgot to take his medication and realized while at work that his hands were beginning to shake with severe tremors, and he was experiencing high anxiety and heart palpitations. He noted this in his journal later.

When he met with his doctor a couple of weeks later, Thomas was able to confirm that even if he didn’t quite feel like the medication was working, he knew it must be, because his symptoms were manageable until he forgot to take a dose, and then his symptoms came back.


As you can see in the example above, maintaining adherence to the schedule and dose prescribed is essential when managing medications during outpatient treatment.

Find a way that helps you stay on top of your medication, such as:

  • Always taking it at the same time during the day
  • Setting an alarm to take your medication
  • Using pill boxes for the week or month

By keeping to the right schedule in a noticeable way, you can check that you have adhered to the right frequency and dosage for any of the medications you are prescribed. This can also prevent accidents like skipping a dose or taking a double dose.

Side Effects

Keeping track of the side effects of any medications you take is very important. Consider the example of Thomas again. 

If Thomas was journaling and he realized that his symptoms were not only not noticeably improving but, in fact, getting worse, then he could report this to his doctor during his next visit. Then, he and his doctor could discuss trying a different medication.

Or, if Thomas was journaling and he realized that he was experiencing some of the more dangerous side effects noted in his medication, like increased suicidal ideation or hallucinations, he would need to report to his doctor or other emergency medical services immediately.

Getting Professional Management with Sequoia Recovery Centers

Managing medications during outpatient treatment can sometimes require professional assistance. At Sequoia Recovery Centers, we treat substance abuse with a comprehensive continuum of care. This means that you can participate in various levels of care with us, and we’ll help you transition from one level of intensity to the next.

Once you move through higher levels of care such as residential or partial hospitalization programs, you can transition into an outpatient rehab program that still provides access to essential services like support groups and medication management help.

Overall, managing medications during outpatient treatment means relying on professional outpatient services to communicate the efficacy or side effects associated with the medication. It also means keeping track of this yourself and monitoring for any side effects while also adhering to your prescribed dosage and schedule.

Contact our team at Sequoia Recovery Centers to learn more about our addiction treatment services.