Inpatient vs. Outpatient: Which is Right for You?

Medically Reviewed

Addiction is a disease that involves a complex interplay of our genetics, as well as the environment we live in. If someone is struggling with addiction, they will compulsively seek and use drugs, even if they are familiar with the consequences despite attempts to stop. The compulsive nature of drug or alcohol addiction can cause financial harm, destroy friendships, harm our body, and cause career or academic hardship.

When someone is struggling with addiction, it’s essential to find a program that helps the individual overcome their problem and manage the problem long-term. Many rehab programs view addiction as a chronic illness, and they offer a variety of medical and therapeutic services that help someone detox from the substance. They will also help to teach more about addiction and find coping strategies for stress or triggers.

Fortunately, with such a wide variety of programs, there is one that is right for you. The variety may feel overwhelming, but meeting with professionals to help dictate your path will help alleviate your concerns.

The First Step: Detox

Before thinking about going through any of the following treatment programs, you must first consider undergoing NCBI. This is the first step in any recovery process which aims to rid the body of addictive toxins while being medically supervised. The detoxification process stems from the withdrawal phase, which can be intense and uncomfortable.

The withdrawal process is different for everyone because everyone’s symptoms are not the same. If you have been abusing substances for a long time, your body and brain will fight and revolt not having the psychoactive chemicals in it.

Some of the physical circumstances you might go through could be dangerous and require medical treatment. Trained clinicians are available around the clock to administer medication to ease you through the difficult withdrawal stage.

This first step in the rehabilitation stage is to help people begin the transition from addiction to recovery. Once you pass through this part of your recovery, you are on the way to the next.

Inpatient Programs

Inpatient programs or residential treatment programs are targeted to people who have more severe problems with addiction. They address the underlying reasons, behaviors, and factors into their substance use.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has recommended patients to stay at least for 90 days of medical treatment and detox. This length of inpatient therapy has the highest level of success with many people. Inpatient programs might last from 30 days to more than 90 days, depending on the client ’s particular situation. Residential inpatient programs tend to be 30 days on average.

Living In The Facilities

Living in the institute’s residential facility provides many benefits. Apart from having keen medical supervision, residential treatment is great and gives clients different forms of therapy.

Alongside this are daily physical activities that help keep the patient happy and motivated to continue with the treatment program. This helps build a solid foundation in maintaining sobriety and fighting relapse triggers in the near or far future.

Living in an institute for addiction treatment can seem difficult for some. This is due to the fact that there are many duties and obligations people have to set aside, such as school, work,  and family. The important thing to understand is that many people have been able to undergo treatment despite these commitments. Sobriety and recovery are possible with commitment from the client.

There are a few different types of residential facilities, which include:

  • Long-Term Residential Treatment: Long-term residential is treatment offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Care will be provided in a non-hospital setting, and there will be medical guidance from nurses and onsite physicians. The programs can last anywhere from 60 to 90 days, and for some, up to six months. These will focus on rebuilding someone’s social structure and how they interact with their community. The primary component is a combination of individual and group therapy. The therapist’s goal is to assist clients in overcoming self-destructive behaviors and learning to take responsibility for their actions.
  • Short-Term Residential Treatment: These programs take place in a hospital setting or a specific residential facility. Once the client goes through this type of short-term treatment, they can be sent home. They will be expected to continue rehab through an outpatient program. The stay, less than three months, which tends to be short, is part of a more extended program. The main focus is detox from the substance and introducing the client to therapy.
  • Sober Living Homes: Sober living homes are not available in the early stages of treatment because they don’t offer detox or medication management. Sober living homes are residential facilities which help those living there adhere to strict standards that maintain sobriety. Individuals living here must pay rent, have jobs, and maintain their therapy schedules. Residents are barred from bringing intoxicating substances into the home, and they must maintain sobriety. On average, those living in these homes will do so for a period of six months to two years.

Outpatient Programs

Intensive Outpatient Programs, or IOP as it’s called, is the next step in the continuum of care. It involves more in-depth therapy for the client who is dual-diagnosed with a substance abuse disorder and mental health disorder. Clients engage in sessions which focus on learning new life skills, how to prevent relapse, and learn how to deal with cravings for the substance and coping with addiction.

Other outpatient treatment programs certainly benefit the recovering client.  This is considered a more low-intensity level of care that is usually less than nine clinical hours per week. It is best for clients who have been through more intensive inpatient therapy programs. All tenets of inpatient and IOP are incorporated into the outpatient treatment programs to ensure the client sustains a long and successful recovery.

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