Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab

Happy couple walking and talking about inpatient vs. outpatient rehab

When you decide to seek help for a substance use problem, you are making an essential first step toward recovery. However, recovery is a process, and drug and alcohol rehab programs can help you through it. There are a number of substance use treatments including:

  • Detox,
  • Therapy
  • Medications

And these treatments can fit into two groups:

  1. Inpatient
  2. Outpatient

Your needs and the severity of your substance use disorder (SUD) will help decide which type is best for you. Both programs will help you stop using drugs or alcohol and reduce your risk of using them again. One is not necessarily better than the other. The difference is the setting and what works best for you.

What Is Inpatient Treatment?

At times, the best way to treat addiction is by spending time away from your family, friends, work, and anything that triggers your addiction. The goal is to have a space where you can concentrate on getting better without the distractions of your everyday life.

Inpatient treatment is also called residential treatment because you reside at the treatment facility. It can be effective for people with severe problems with drugs or alcohol. This can be especially important for people who are dealing with other mental health conditions. Because inpatient rehab requires you to separate from your daily life, you may need to find care for children or other family members.

Licensed residential facilities offer 24-hour medical support and intensive care. They include three phases of recovery in their treatment plan:

  1. Detox
  2. Reflection, and
  3. Growth.

Intensive Treatment

Residential treatment programs are highly structured and can be challenging for many people. Your schedule will be decided by the staff and some people find it difficult to adjust to the strict schedule and the intensity of treatment that make residential care so effective. These programs  are also focused on helping people learn to adjust to drug- or alcohol-free lifestyles after rehab. Often, these programs involve a step-down approach to help people progress from inpatient care to outpatient programs and counseling outside the facility.

There are short-term and long-term residential programs. Generally, people stay at long-term residential facilities from 6 months to a year. Short-term facilities require stays of about three to six weeks.

Unfortunately, SUD and mental health problems like depression or bipolar disorder often co-occur with addiction issues. So you want to be sure to find a facility that can treat both disorders at the same time or you run the risk of relapse after leaving the facility. Unfortunately, costs are often higher for residential programs compared to outpatient care. However, it’s important to remember that the cost of treatment is always less than the cost of addiction.

How Does it Work?

Residential programs provide supervised 24-hour care and are typically run by licensed alcohol and drug counselors and mental health professionals. Inpatient programs usually include:

  • Medically monitored detox
  • Individual counseling
  • Support groups
  • Skill-building training
  • Medication management
  • Follow-up treatment
  • Aftercare planning

What Are The Benefits?

The benefits offered by inpatient rehabs make them the best choice for some people:

  • Short-term and long-term inpatient rehab programs are both designed to help you with detox and prepare you for a substance-free life after treatment.
  • They provide care and supervision 24 hours a day, typically in a nonhospital setting. You are never alone while working on your recovery.
  • Treatment programs are highly structured and aim attention at all elements of addiction. This may include social factors (relationships and lifestyle) and psychological factors related to your personal history and situation.
  • Medical attention and safe housing are available around the clock. This is particularly important for people with severe problems that may be made more complicated by other mental health conditions.

Who Is The Best Candidate for Inpatient Treatment?

In general, inpatient rehab treatment is especially appropriate for people who have a severe SUD and/or have had it for a long period of time. It is particularly needed for people who are dealing with other mental health conditions.  Another group of people who need inpatient care are those who have completed outpatient treatment and have subsequently relapsed.

What Is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab involves daily treatment such as counseling, therapy, or group sessions at a treatment facility. If you choose outpatient treatment, you can go on living at home as you recover. This allows you to:

  • take care of children or other family members,
  • keep up with work obligations, or
  • stay on track at school.

While the level of care is lower in outpatient treatment, the expense is typically lower and more likely to be covered by insurance.

Most outpatient programs involve a step-down approach. There are several levels of outpatient treatment and you may step down to a less intensive program after completing one of the higher levels. This means that sessions become less intensive and frequent as you go through treatment. These programs help people overcome their substance use disorder and then maintain their abstinence over the long term.

Levels of Outpatient Care

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)–

A PHP is the highest level of outpatient treatment. In a PHP you will attend treatment and counseling sessions at the facility every day of the week. Your days are structured and organized just like in a residential program. But you will go home at the end of the day.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)–

IOP is the second level of outpatient rehab. This type of program requires fewer days per week at the treatment facility for fewer hours per day.

Outpatient Program (OP)–

This level of care requires less attendance at the facility and is frequently used as a step-down from a higher level of care and can be viewed as a maintenance program.

Benefits of Outpatient Treatment

There are many benefits to outpatient treatment that make it the best option for some people:

  • You can still live in your home while getting treatment. This works if your family and friends are a stable support system.
  • The cost of treatment is usually much lower for outpatient care compared to inpatient.
  • Because there are many different types of counseling and therapy available in the outpatient setting, you can choose the intensity level that works best for you.
  • You may be able to attend treatment sessions in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate you schedules at work or school.
  • There are some outpatient programs that can treat people with co-occurring disorders including:
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder

How Does it Work?

Outpatient treatment may include therapy, group counseling, or a 12-step program. The sessions usually target:

  • substance abuse education,
  • stress management,
  • communication skills,
  • goal-setting, and
  • relapse prevention.

In addition, some people also transition to outpatient care after completing inpatient treatment. Step-down care like this balances independence with support and accountability.

Who Is The Best Candidate for Outpatient Treatment?

If a medical professional decides that you have:

  • a less-severe SUD,
  • a social support system,
  • a stable living situation, and
  • good physical health they might recommend an outpatient rehab program

Although the programs vary in length and intensity, they allow you to keep up with your normal routine.

When is Outpatient Not the Best Choice?

Outpatient care might not be your best choice if:

  • you have constant urges to use. Outpatient facilities don’t offer round-the-clock support.
  • you have difficulty showing up to sessions on your own. The success of outpatient treatment relies on your ability to attend and participate in sessions regularly. If you know that you need more structured and supervised treatment, inpatient may be best for you.
  • you need treatment for multiple disorders and you require medical attention. Some OPs may not be able to dispense medications or provide multifaceted recovery programs for complicated addictions and dual diagnoses ( a SUD and a mental health disorder).

How To Know Which Program is Best

It doesn’t matter what type of addiction you have, every day can feel like a battle. So it’s important to find the right treatment program. You might feel like there is no way out of it, but recovery is possible if you find the right program for you.

Likewise, it doesn’t matter what type of rehab you choose, it will serve to get you started on a path to lifelong recovery. Inpatient and outpatient options both will help you detox and redefine your perceptions and attitudes about the substances you use. Also, these options will provide you with the skills you need to continue your recovery after treatment.

The first, and most important step, is realizing that you have a problem and that you want things to be different. If you are able to admit that, you are on your way to recovery before you ever enter a treatment center or therapist’s office. But bear in mind that when it comes to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, everyone has different needs. What worked for someone else may not necessarily work for you.

Generally, you want to avoid treatment centers, counselors, and facilities that guarantee success. Guarantees are just not possible when it comes to dealing with a person’s addiction. Controlling and guaranteeing another person’s actions is not realistic.

Personalized Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment at Luna Recovery

Whether you need inpatient or outpatient treatment, you can find the treatment you need, designed especially for you, at Luna Recovery. We have options you can choose from to help keep you motivated and committed to your recovery. Luna has a team of recovery experts including master-level therapists, addiction counselors, and other recovery professionals.

If you’re concerned about a loved one struggling with addiction, Luna also has trained, professional interventionists who can help your attempts to get them into treatment. The first step in treating addiction is the hardest and the most important. Contact us today and we’ll talk about your needs and requirements, your goals, and what you expect from treatment.