The Differences Between Inpatient And Outpatient Addiction Treatments

November 27, 2018

If you or a loved one is addicted to alcohol or drugs, there are two types of treatment that can provide the care needed to help you achieve recovery — outpatient and inpatient treatment. Depending on your addiction and individual needs, one type of treatment may be more appropriate for you versus the other. How do you know which treatment to choose? This general overview of inpatient versus outpatient substance abuse treatment can help you select the right option for your needs.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Many people who have drug or alcohol addictions start in outpatient treatment. This type of treatment takes place in a community setting. With outpatient treatment, you would live at home and attend treatment on a daily, weekly or some other basis. The exact frequency of treatment depends on your needs.

Outpatient treatment widely varies in the types and intensity of services that are provided. Some of the common interventions offered through an outpatient treatment program include:

  • Individual substance abuse counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Peer support
  • Group therapy
  • Case management

Outpatient treatment is ideal for patients who work or go to school, or who have family commitments. It provides you with the freedom that you need to take care of responsibilities outside of treatment while working on recovery.

If you are also diagnosed with a mental illness (a co-occurring disorder) or have more complex issues, then an intensive outpatient program (IOP) may be a good choice for you. Intensive outpatient treatment is a structured, comprehensive outpatient program that provides a greater deal of support compared to traditional outpatient treatment. This program provides a safe, structured environment to help support your recovery. You would typically attend the program several hours a day. If you work during the day, there are also evening IOPs available.

Inpatient Addiction Treatment

There are times when a person needs 24/7 medical monitoring and management. Inpatient treatment is a medically based intervention for substance abuse addiction that includes around-the-clock medical monitoring and support. Inpatient treatment is sometimes called residential treatment. It provides a safe and secure environment for more intensive treatment.

Here are some examples of when inpatient treatment may be recommended:

  • You have thoughts of harming yourself or others.
  • You have had one or more episodes after outpatient treatment and have not gotten better.

Inpatient rehab generally lasts anywhere from 28 days to 90-plus days. Inpatient treatment provides all of the same treatment interventions as outpatient treatment and more. Depending on your treatment needs, you might receive:

  • Individual counseling
  • Family therapy
  • Art or drama therapy
  • Psycho-educational groups
  • Case management
  • 12-Step programming and groups

How to Make the Decision Between Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment

It can be hard to decide what treatment is right for you. No one treatment is better than the other. It just depends on your situation. In certain cases, you might need to complete medical detox before enrolling in outpatient or inpatient treatment. However, that depends on the drug that you are using and whether or not you are likely to experience serious side effects when you stop.

Start your road to recovery by talking to a substance abuse professional today. He or she can review your medical and substance abuse history and help you determine the best treatment for your needs. No matter what treatment you choose, it should be comprehensive and personalized to you.