Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab is very successful in treating addiction and substance abuse.

For many, rehab means a long-term stay at a residential center, but the best treatment plans combine several options to meet a person’s individual needs.

Choosing an Addiction Treatment Setting

Addiction treatment is a highly personalized process that addresses a person’s beliefs about the world and his or herself along with the physical and psychological symptoms that go along with the disease of addiction. A person looking for help should consider how much positive support is available in her life before choosing a treatment plan.

When a person’s addiction is less severe, an outpatient program may be suitable to allow a person to take care of family or work responsibilities. In cases of severe addictions, however, it is better for a person’s long-term success to go into an inpatient facility. Some residential facilities offer a childcare option for parents who have no one to take care of their children.

A 1993 study comparing inpatient and outpatient addiction treatments found that patients who left treatment early had poorer outcomes. It also found that people who had a poor social support system and/or severe mental illness had better outcomes in inpatient treatment while people with less severe mental illness and/or a good social support network did as well in an inpatient setting as an outpatient setting.

Inpatient Addiction Treatment

Inpatient treatment offers a structured environment free of the temptations and stresses of the outside world according to a Psych Central article. Steven Gifford, a licensed professional counselor, writes that many people who complete outpatient programs and relapse find greater success in an inpatient program that offers a higher level of support.

Inpatient treatment lasts for a minimum of 28 days, but more typical stays last from six to 12 months, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The main difference between a residential stay and an outpatient program is the strong sense of community present during inpatient treatment. During the stay clients spend time in individual therapy sessions as well as group sessions. Most residential facilities offer medically-supervised detox services along with a variety of behavioral treatments. Motivational interviewing (MI), a technique that uses positive encouragement to help a person make better decisions and move away from a negative lifestyle, is a behavioral treatment used at some facilities.

Many staff members at residential facilities are recovering addicts who offer counsel and advice on living a sober lifestyle. All of the people in the facility work together to influence positive changes in clients by teaching coping skills and offering healthy alternatives to negative beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Outpatient treatment offers more flexibility than inpatient treatment especially when a person needs to work or go to school. Gifford writes that outpatient treatment also allows a person to keep his or her treatment secret because the person doesn’t have to explain a long absence.

Outpatient programs include individual and group therapy, however, medically supervised detox is not offered. While outpatient treatment does not insulate a person from negative influences in his or her environment, good programs do connect clients with community groups offering 12-step programs or other supportive options.

For some an intensive outpatient program may be a good option. Such programs meet daily for a certain period, traditionally four to 12 weeks, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The programs do not offer medically supervised detox but include group and individual therapy. SAMHSA recommends intensive outpatient programs also offer the following services:

  • Psycho-educational programming
  • Drug use monitoring
  • Medication management
  • Case management
  • Medical and psychiatric examinations
  • Crisis intervention coverage
  • Orientation to community-based support groups

Intensive outpatient treatment is a good option for individuals who need to work or go to school during treatment or for individuals who need additional services after leaving an inpatient facility.

Combining Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Many people need ongoing support to make the most of their recovery. For some it may be a good choice to spend several months in an inpatient program and then transition to outpatient services.

Overall addiction treatment services offer valuable life skills training that teach people healthy ways to interact with others and manage problems. There are many serious consequences to living with addiction according to the NIDA. A person who abuses substances is at greater risk for contracting an infectious disease or being charged with a crime. There are negative social aspects to addiction as well.

When a person with an addiction is so consumed with taking or obtaining a drug, he or she will overlook family and friends and perform poorly at work or school. When a person makes the decision to fight the disease of addiction, he or she improves his or her quality of life and emotional well being.

Need Help Finding Addiction Treatment?

It can be a difficult first step to make the decision to seek help for addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance abuse problem, please call our toll-free helpline. Our admissions coordinators are trained to offer discreet advice and provide the best possible treatment options. We help individuals overcome addictions with a philosophy that addresses the whole person – mentally, physical and spiritually. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day for advice. Don’t struggle alone. Call us today.