Is Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment Right for Me?

Is Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment Right for Me?

When you speak with a specialist about drug and alcohol treatment, talk about your personal circumstances

Both outpatient and inpatient treatment programs provide critical care for people who wish to recover from drug or alcohol addiction. However, how can you learn which type of program you or a loved one needs most? Both types of treatment have distinctions that make them more or less appropriate for particular needs, depending upon the patient’s level and length of addiction. So, take a look at these treatment methods separately to understand how each is unique1.

Residential Treatment Programs

Residential treatment programs typically serve individuals for at least 28 days. Patients voluntarily enter a safe, secure facility that focuses on treatment drug and alcohol addiction and/or some other mental illness. Many patients who choose outpatient care relapse back into drug abuse or whatever mental illness they have, but other people find outpatient care too difficult to complete. Either way, those people typically achieve greater success in residential treatment. Additionally, patients who require medically supervised detox would also benefit from residential programs, as detox services are often included in such programs. After detox ends, patients may (if necessary) undergo an intensive, daily regimen to learn about the disease of addiction in a supportive, but focused environment.

Residential programs are safe, structured environments that remove patients from stressful circumstances that would push them to relapse. Because problems are removed from patients’ daily experiences in inpatient treatment, patients can build skills that will help them stay clean in the real world. Because this care is so intense, residential treatment programs are ideal for two types of people: those who have failed to overcome addiction in outpatient programs, and those who need rehab and want the best type care the first time. A qualified medical or counseling professional can assess the level of care you need via a one-on-one assessment.

Some patients are wary about voluntarily beginning residential addiction treatment, but residential programs are highly supportive and address both the body and mind through treatment. For these reasons, many residential centers encourage family participation, including family education programs in the evenings and over weekends. Patients in inpatient care may also benefit from having a therapeutic community – other patients who encourage participants to stay the course. Aside from the other unique factors of residential care, the camaraderie gained through empathy and shared experiences often helps people overcome addiction while also completing some difficult treatment aspects.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

Outpatient addiction treatment shares many similarities with inpatient care, but the treatment occurs with a different structure. Outpatient programs provide patients with more freedom to maintain commitments to family, work and education; in other words, because patients can go home after a daily or evening program, they can have greater levels of privacy and independence. They often do not need to explain a prolonged absence to friends, coworkers or family members.

However, such freedom means that patients lack the safe, secure environment that isolates them from negative factors. Patients return to their own environments each day after outpatient treatment ends, so they must voluntarily abstain from drug and alcohol use. This task requires a greater amount of diligence and discipline than if they lived in the more supervised facilities of inpatient, so people in outpatient care need a support network. Such help might come from official support groups, individual counseling or family counseling, but the network must offer accountability. Also, patients can find a strong support network from sober peers and sponsors. Furthermore, outpatient treatment patients can find help in group therapy and support groups, which provide new, positive social change, which facilitates long-term recovery. Finally, as residential treatment does, outpatient programs focus on family support and involvement, but only patients in outpatient care can instantly apply the lessons they learn to their daily experiences.

Which Type of Treatment Program Is Best for You?

You and your support network can best decide which type of treatment is ideal for your situation, so be honest with yourself about how disciplined you can be in an outpatient program. Do you think the temptation to relapse would be too great for you without inpatient care? Have you repeatedly failed to stop your drug or alcohol abuse on your own or in outpatient care? Are you physically addicted to drugs or alcohol and need medically supervised detox before you get help? When you speak with a specialist about drug and alcohol treatment, talk about your personal circumstances to figure out which aspects of outpatient and inpatient treatment suit you best. Both types have life-changing benefits, but understand which program will best help you to achieve long-term recovery.

For a positive, supportive, full-service treatment program, find out why 11 federally funded research studies substantiate our claim to have a superior treatment approach, whether it is inpatient or outpatient. In fact, those studies indicate that, one year after treatment ends, our clients are twice as likely to be clean than those who sought traditional recovery programs. Our admissions coordinators can help you if you call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline; they will show you professionalism and confidentiality with a personal touch and proven results.

1 Gifford, Steven, LICDC, LPC, “Differences Between Outpatient and Inpatient Treatment Programs,” Psych Central (January 30, 2013).