Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab

Deciding whether to enter a residential rehab program or seek outpatient care is an important step toward sobriety.

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

Drug and alcohol treatment programs commonly fall into one of two categories: inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. While equally focused on rehabilitation, each type has unique attributes and benefits to offer.

Inpatient rehabilitation centers are intensive, residential treatment programs designed to treat serious addictions. Outpatient rehabilitation facilities are part-time programs, allowing the recovering user to keep going to work or school during the day.

It’s important that both the addicted person and their loved ones understand the differences before selecting a treatment program. Finding the right treatment program can put you or a loved one on the road to sobriety.

Inpatient Rehab and Treatment

Inpatient recovery programs, also known as residential treatment, require patients to check themselves into a controlled environment to overcome their addictions. Patients stay at a clinic with 24-hour medical and emotional support.

Preparing for Inpatient Rehabilitation

It’s important to properly prepare for rehabilitation. It is important to set an entry date for entering the rehabilitation facility so you can settle your affairs before that date.

Some of the things to take care of before entering rehabilitation include:

  • Talking to your employer
  • Finding living arrangements for children or other family members
  • Planning how to get to and from the rehab center
  • Finding out what personal items are allowed

Daily Life During Inpatient Rehabilitation

During inpatient treatment, residents are able to completely focus on getting well and sober without the distractions of everyday life. A typical day in residential treatment is carefully scheduled and accounted for. Psychologists, counselors, and psychiatrists meet with patients individually and in group settings to guide inpatient recovery.

The first step in inpatient treatment is medically assisted detox. Physicians and addiction specialists will monitor patients’ vital signs while the drugs exit the system. Drug cravings are common during detoxification and can be difficult to overcome. Clinicians can provide necessary medicine and medical expertise to lessen cravings and withdrawals.

Withdrawal symptoms aren’t pleasant for any drug, but some drugs should never be quit without medical supervision. Some withdrawals can be fatal. Lethal withdrawals are linked to drugs like synthetic opiates, benzodiazepines, alcohol and heroin.

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Family Support and Contact in Inpatient Rehabilitation

Successful inpatient clinics know family involvement is crucial to recovery. Family members can contact loved ones in residential treatment to provide emotional support and encouragement.

When it comes to how and how often residents can communicate with their loved ones, each inpatient center’s policy is different. Some rehab centers also provide counseling for the addicted person’s family.

Outpatient Rehab and Treatment

Outpatient drug rehabilitation is less restrictive than inpatient programs. Outpatient recovery programs generally require 10 to 12 hours a week spent visiting a local treatment center.

The sessions focus on drug abuse education, individual and group counseling, and teaching addicted people how to cope without their drug. Outpatient drug rehabilitation can be a good stand-alone option for someone with a mild addiction.

Outpatient Detox Programs

Patients with mild-to-moderate drug withdrawal symptoms might find outpatient detoxification a fitting alternative to residential detox. Outpatient detox is safe, effective and takes less time to complete than inpatient detox.

“The average outpatient detoxification period lasts 6.5 days.” – Motoi Hayashida, M.D., Sc.D. 1998

Patients must visit a hospital or other treatment facility for physical and mental check-ups during outpatient detoxification. Clinicians or doctors will often administer medications on-site to soothe withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, and increased heart rate.

Social Support During Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient drug rehabilitation allows recovering addicts to remain at home during treatment. Individuals undergoing outpatient drug rehabilitation can continue working and remain close to family and friends. Outpatient treatment centers usually conduct meetings at night or in the early morning, helping those in the program maintain their normal schedules.

Twelve step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) may be used as part of outpatient treatment. Studies show that participating in recovery groups like AA and NA helps recovering addicts stay sober.

Outpatient drug rehabilitation generally costs less than inpatient treatment programs. The price difference should not encourage or discourage someone from choosing the best treatment route for them.

Whatever the Decision, Recovery is Around the Corner

No matter which treatment option is right for you or a loved one, rehab can change your life.

Addiction is a chronic illness, and recovery is a lifelong process. Medical professionals, mental health counselors and community groups like AA can teach the necessary skills to avoid relapse. Take the first step today.