Inpatient vs Outpatient: Which is Better?
Making the decision to change your relationship with alcohol and/or drugs is a difficult, but important first step toward your recovery. But it’s important to understand that recovery is a process and many times, it is a problem that is more than you may be able to handle alone. There are several types of treatment programs that can help you through the process, but the various categories of substance use treatment generally fit into two primary categories; inpatient and outpatient rehab. The severity of your substance use problem and your individual needs will help to determine which form of rehab is the best for you. It’s important to keep in mind that one is not better than the other, the main difference is the setting and what will work the best for you and your situation. Understanding the differences between inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment can help make the decision easier, so here is some brief information about both inpatient and outpatient treatment.
Getting an Assessment
One of the first steps you can take to help narrow down your decision is to get an assessment. An assessment will include a range of information, such as your current living situation, history of relapse, a readiness to change and the severity of your dependence. A professional assessment is an important part of helping you determine whether inpatient or outpatient treatment will be the most beneficial for your individual needs.
Inpatient programs for addiction treatment are generally where most people go when seeking help, because these programs are more intensive than outpatient. Many inpatient programs begin with supervised detox, with regard to the physical aspect, is one of the most difficult parts of recovery. There are several substances that you should not attempt to detox from on your own, because without being under the care of medical professionals, withdrawal may be lethal. This level of care is extremely beneficial for those who are in a living situation that may trigger use. Residential treatment allows you to have more structure and restrictions; it removes you from the triggers, which helps to reduce the risk of relapse due to impulse cravings. Residential treatment also allows you to give yourself the attention and care you need to overcome the addiction. The length of stay varies; however, the average is 28-90 days. Some benefits of inpatient rehab include:
- Access to round-the-clock care
- Removal from drug access and triggering environments
- Structured schedules
- Intense therapy
A residential program is recommended for those who need/want medically supervised detox, those who live in a triggering environment and those who have previously been unsuccessful in outpatient programs.
Outpatient programs offer various types of treatment outside of the treatment center. These programs are often utilized as a follow-up for inpatient addiction treatment; however, there are some who may benefit from outpatient treatment alone, such as those who have a less severe addiction or those who are in the early stages of addiction. Outpatient treatment is a level of care that is best for those who have an extremely strong readiness to change and do not have a long relapse history. In most situations, outpatient programs are for people who are transitioning from an inpatient level of care. These programs allow you to continue treatment as an outpatient, which allows you to have access to support, while still being accountable and living in recovery. Outpatient programs may have certain drawbacks, especially for those who haven’t completed an inpatient program. For instance, unlike inpatient programs, an outpatient program means you will still have access to the substance of choice, which can significantly interfere with recovery. The length of involvement in an outpatient program varies; however, a 90-day minimum commitment is generally recommended. The benefits of outpatient programs may include:
- Remaining in your own home
- Ability to maintain commitment to family, work, and school
- Access to many of the treatments found in an inpatient environment, such as therapy and support groups
Regardless of which type of addiction treatment you choose, making the decision to overcome your addiction is critical. Recovery is a lifetime process, but rehab can literally save your life. It is important to speak with a treatment professional to help you determine which type of program will be the best for your situation and individual needs. Seeking help, whether it is an inpatient or outpatient can enhance your overall quality of life as well as lengthen your life. Remember, you have taken the first step by making the decision to seek treatment for your addiction.