Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab | Everything You Need to Know
No one type of treatment program is the perfect option for every individual seeking recovery from substance use disorder. In more progressed stages of addiction, inpatient rehab is the more appropriate level of care. However, in other scenarios, where a person has just began experimenting with illegal substances, outpatient or intensive outpatient may be the better option. Outpatient rehab is also utilized as a continued care option for those who have recently completed inpatient treatment. Even beyond these reasons, there are a plethora of situations where one type of care is more effective to the other, thus choosing the correct level of care is imperative in the recovery journey.
Researching what options are available to you or your loved one is a crucial first step. One should begin by learning everything there is to know about the various levels of care, including inpatient and outpatient treatment. This will be one of the biggest decisions made, but it does not have to be done alone. It is highly recommended to consult with an addictions professional to gain the proper insight into what is needed to recover from substance abuse.
Time is of the essence, and while you should never rush to addiction rehab without first doing your research, it is important to act quickly in making your decision. Substance use disorder is a profoundly serious, life-threatening disease, so the sooner treatment begins, the better.
What is Inpatient Rehab?
Inpatient rehab is regarded as one of the most effective options for treating addiction and co-occurring disorders. During inpatient care, the patient resides on-site for a designated period of time, where all medical, clinical and holistic treatment strategies are provided. A typical length of stay will depend on a range of factors, including the severity of the addiction, medical necessity and outside contributing factors, such as employment and aftercare opportunities. However, most inpatient rehab centers range anywhere from 14 to 45 days.
Detoxification services, a highly regarded benefit to inpatient treatment, is a common first step in the recovery process. During detox, the patient would be thoroughly evaluated by the medical team to determine the most appropriate course of treatment that would safely wean them off all harmful substances. This is especially vital as some withdrawal symptoms can cause adverse side-effects and be potentially life-threatening. Treatment during detox typically includes various clinical strategies, medical interventions, utilization of suitable medications and 24-hour supervision. It is never recommended to attempt detoxing “cold turkey” or without the oversight and direction of medical professionals.
The next phase in inpatient rehab is known as residential treatment. During this time, the patient would work closely with their assigned clinical team, including counselors, case managers and recovery support specialists, creating comprehensive treatment plans which address the underlying causes of their disease.
Most facilities now utilize an array of therapeutic strategies to aid in the recovery process, including traditional clinical modalities, like CBT and DBT, holistic approaches, recreational therapy, family participation and counseling, social and psychological support, and medication-assisted treatment. As best practices continue to evolve, professionals have found that there is no single path to recovery thereby applying an array of strategies is most beneficial to optimum success.
In addition to a clinical schedule, patients have the opportunity to bond with their fellow community members and staff, learning the importance of a strong support group after treatment. In doing so, the individual can begin to break down the walls of distrust, shame, guilt and resentment, realizing they no longer have to fight this battle alone. While it may not be easy and it certainly will not happen overnight, the process of recovery will become more about discovering who they are, rather than learning how to live without drugs and alcohol.
Before the end of treatment, the clinical team would devise an aftercare plan for the patient, so they may continue their course of treatment after inpatient rehab. For some, this may include intensive outpatient or outpatient services, and for others it may be beneficial to transition to a partial hospitalization program or extended care facility. Depending on what works best will be determined by the patient and their team, and what is most conducive to their recovery journey.
What is Outpatient Rehab?
During outpatient rehab, the individual regularly visits the rehab center to receive treatment each week, but does not stay overnight, instead getting to return home. Some of the included benefits of outpatient rehab is the ability to continue working, attending school or taking care of familial and household obligations.
Outpatient rehab offers many similar therapeutic techniques as inpatient treatment, including CBT, DBT, relapse prevention, family therapy and holistic approaches. Patients would be assigned a clinician to handle their care and determine treatment plans most conducive to their recovery. In addition, the team would work together to handle any outside circumstances, such as employment, legal issues, domestic problems and so on. The core difference between outpatient and inpatient rehab is the ability to practice learned skills and concepts in real time. Individuals can take what they learned that day in therapy and apply them to real-life situations as they occur.
The main objective during outpatient care is to address the underlying causes of the addiction, recognize negative thinking and behavioral patterns and learn how to react to life’s circumstances in a more productive, healthy way. In addition, the individual is encouraged to attend local support groups, such as AA or NA, learning to bond with others in recovery and rely on those who share similar experiences. By doing so, they exponentially increase their chances of long-term success.
More to Consider
These advantages are typically what draws the patient toward this level of care vs inpatient rehab, however, it is can often be detrimental if more intensive treatment is needed.
For instance, if the individual requires detoxification from a substance such as alcohol or heroin, intensive outpatient or outpatient rehab would not provide that service. As earlier stated, it is extremely difficult and dangerous to detox without the support of medical professionals. In addition, before one can begin to recover mentally and emotionally, they must first recover physically. It is impossible to do so when you are physically dependent on drugs and alcohol.
The second tradeoff to consider is environment. While attending outpatient rehab, a patient would still be surrounded by familiar people, places and things that may have influenced their addiction. The initial stages of recovery can be a very fragile time for the individual and even the slightest thing may trigger them. Driving past the bar they used to frequent every day after work, running into an old “buddy” they used drugs with, and sometimes even family relationships can set them off. Inpatient rehab gives the patient the chance to remove themselves from harmful situations and environments, so they may heal and focus on what is most important.
In most scenarios, outpatient or intensive outpatient is best utilized as a continued care option after one has completed inpatient treatment. After receiving the many benefits from a residential program, the patient can apply and continue to practice what they learned in an outpatient setting.
Learn More about our Treatment Opportunities
Deciding what level of care is appropriate for yourself or your loved one should never be done alone. It is imperative to research the various options available to you and to consult with a professional on the best course of treatment.
At Brookdale Premier Addiction Recovery, we provide our patients with unparalleled treatment opportunities, continuously utilizing evidence-based treatment protocols. From our highly trained medical department to expertly appointed clinical team, you or your loved one will receive compassionate care driven toward optimal results.