Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Rehab

If you have a substance abuse problem and you’re ready to get help, you will have to decide whether to go to inpatient rehab or to an outpatient treatment center. There are pros and cons associated with both options, and you need to take the time to evaluate them so that you can choose the solution that is right for you.

Understanding Inpatient Rehab

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted a survey in 2009 that showed some 23.5 million people older than 12 in this country needed substance abuse treatment. If treatment is received, it is commonly through inpatient rehab. What this means is that people check in to a center and remain there for the duration of the program. Usually, treatment lasts for between 28 and 90 days, and it usually starts with a period of detox. This is then followed by intensive counseling and therapy.

Understanding Outpatient Treatment

For those who go to outpatient treatment for their substance abuse problem, they can remain in their own home. They will have to attend counseling and therapy on regular days, usually five days per week, and they may also receive medication there. As such, the treatment itself is exactly the same as with inpatient rehab, but the latter is more intensive and takes patients out of their own environment.

Comparing Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

When you compare the two treatment options, what you will find is that the main benefit of inpatient rehab is that you can be 100% focused on your recovery, being away from all other distractions. You will also be in a completely sober environment, which means it is almost impossible to relapse. Furthermore, it is likely that you can access various specialized services such as acupuncture, yoga, religious services, and personalized meals. Furthermore, you will receive round the clock care, which is often required for people who have a significant addiction history, or who have relapsed multiple times.

The main advantage of inpatient rehab – staying within a facility – can also be its main disadvantage, however. When committing to going to such treatment, it means people are unable to meet educational or professional responsibilities, and they are away from their personal relationships as well.

Besides the fact that outpatient treatment is therefore often more convenient for people, there are some other benefits as well. One major one is that treatment is generally more affordable, as you will not have to pay for round the clock care, including room and board.

That being said, outpatient treatment isn’t for everybody. It is not the recommended option for those who require medically assisted or otherwise supervised treatment. It is also not suitable for those who have a co-occurring mental health condition, something that SAMHSA reports affects some 8.9 million people. Furthermore, relapse is far more common in outpatient centers, because addicts can continue to access drugs or alcohol.

That being said, it can be easier for people to adjust to the real world through outpatient treatment as well. After all, someone who is in inpatient rehab will have to return home at some point, where drugs and alcohol will also be accessible again. Hence, the ultimate issue is how good the quality of the treatment is, and how responsive the patient is.

If you are struggling with an addiction or you know someone who is, then it is likely that you will require an inpatient rehab center. This is where the intensive therapy that you will need are delivered, and where you can focus on developing the tools to develop a true sober life. However, the ultimate decision is up to you.

Tips for Choosing Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

When you look at the advantages and disadvantages of both options, there are a few things that you should consider before you commit to either. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Are alcohol and drugs common in your environment?
  • Are people in your direct environment also users?
  • Are you surrounded by a strong support network that is committed to helping you prevent relapse?
  • Can you take time away from your social, professional, and/or educational responsibilities for possibly a long period of time?
  • Do you want extensive privacy? If so, an inpatient treatment center really is the only option.
  • If you choose outpatient treatment, can you commute there on a daily basis?
  • Do you feel you need specialized therapy?

If you find that you have a drug or alcohol dependency or addiction problem, you should discuss all of the above with someone you trust and who has your best interests at heart. They can then give you feedback and help you come to a decision that is right for you.

The following tips may also help you to choose between inpatient and outpatient treatment:

  1. Make sure that you find a program that treats both your mental and physical addiction and dependency. Treatment should be comprehensive, in other words, as addictions affect people holistically.
  2. Make sure that the specialists you will work with are educated in the field of addiction, and that they are fully licensed as well. The center should also be licensed, particularly if they also offer medical care. You can simply ask the center you are considering for their license and then check this with your state’s licensing department.
  3. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has stated that the longer someone is in treatment, the more likely it is they will achieve lasting sobriety. Make sure, therefore, that the facility you choose is able to offer extended stays, should you find that, after your originally agreed time, you need further treatment.
  4. Make sure the treatment facility also offers aftercare options.

It can be a challenge to decide which of the two options to choose. However, what matters is that you have the debate and come to a decision in the end. Treatment has the potential to save your life, so it is vital that you find something where you feel comfortable and supported.

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