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Inpatient vs. Outpatient Addiction Treatment: Finding the Right Program for You

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Are you taking the first step towards addiction treatment? We’re here to help you sort through the process and help you get the best treatment to address your needs as an individual.

When you’re looking for the right drug addiction rehab treatment program, sorting through all of your options can seem overwhelming. There are probably lots of different terms and treatment approaches that you might’ve never heard of.

Two of the main addiction treatment programs you will likely come across are inpatient and outpatient treatment.

Let’s take a look into how each treatment program addresses your needs and the differences between them. As always, if you need help deciding what kind of treatment program is right for you, feel free to contact us! We’re here to fulfill your unmet needs by providing quality drug addiction treatment programs.

What Is an Inpatient Treatment Program?

Inpatient programming is live-in treatment. This type of program is a full-time residential program that focuses on addiction treatment. A patient in an inpatient treatment program will stay at the treatment center’s facility (sober-living facility) and engage with addiction treatment full-time.

This stage of addiction treatment usually comes after you go through a medically-assisted detoxification. The detox process is important in moving towards recovery, but detox alone is not a substantial enough treatment to encourage long-term recovery. The goal of any addiction treatment program should be to teach people healthy ways to deal with stress and other challenges in life. Usually, addiction develops because of some external factor that causes individuals to self-medicate or cope through illicit substance use. The detox process is important in clearing the body of toxic substances, but it does not address the underlying issues that lead a person to use.

In order to achieve a goal of lifelong sobriety, the deep-rooted issues of a person’s addiction need to be addressed. This is what inpatient treatment programs will provide. During an inpatient treatment program, an individual will engage in group and individual therapy sessions. Therapy is a tool that can address the motives driving a person’s substance use and helps a person learn how to better control urges to use. Therapy can be an incredibly helpful tool in constructing healthier thought patterns and more positive views of the world. It can also serve as a space for interior reflection and personal growth.

Besides therapy, inpatient treatment offers the opportunity for medication management, if it would benefit a patient. After detox, while the substance may no longer be in the body’s system, the cravings don’t necessarily just stop because of detox. The human body is incredibly adaptable. When you introduce a new substance into your body, the body will adjust over time and begin to view the substance as a regular part of functioning. Once you go through detox, your body will try its best to readjust, but this can cause chemical imbalances and strong cravings. Those imbalances can contribute to withdrawal symptoms like nausea, trembling, sweating, and moodiness. While withdrawal symptoms eventually fade, cravings will often continue after detox is completed.

Dealing with cravings constantly can make interacting with peers and therapists more difficult, since your focus is split between therapy and drug cravings. The support of medication can help you focus less on cravings and more on engaging with therapy and residential treatment. This way, you can spend more of your energy and attention on learning how to continue a healthy lifestyle after addiction treatment.

Recreational therapy is another unique aspect of inpatient addiction treatment. Recreational therapy is offered by some addiction treatment programs as a way to diversify addiction treatment. Therapy is probably most commonly associated with treatment and while it remains an important part of recovery, therapy can be emotionally exhausting. Recreational therapy is a way to treat a whole person, not just one aspect of a person.

Activities in recreational therapy can include activities like nature walks, art and music therapy, yoga, and physical fitness. This type of therapy aims to reintroduce a person to healthy outlets for creativity and stress. Activities can also teach skills like cooperation, communication, and problem-solving. All these skills are important going forward in life to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

What Is an Outpatient Treatment Recovery Program?

Outpatient addiction treatment programs are another avenue for treatment. In general, outpatient treatment is not considered as “intense” as inpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment offers a more relaxed approach, because this type of treatment usually takes place after a patient has completed inpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment tends to be more rigorous in terms of how much time a patient will engage with the treatment program.

Perhaps the most distinct difference between outpatient and inpatient treatment is the residential aspect. Outpatient treatment programs are not live-in programs. Patients who are part of an outpatient program don’t live at the treatment facility. Instead, the patients live at home and travel to the treatment facility.

There are a variety of levels of outpatient treatment programs. Some treatment facilities will offer one type or several.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a full-time program. Some programs allow for participants to live at home, while other programs might provide a sober living facility. In this facility, participants can practice skills like self-restraint and apply methods of self-regulation that they have learned in therapy.

PHP provides the most support out of all the outpatient program levels. Any medication that participants are prescribed will be carefully regulated and distributed by the program. At this point, access to devices like cell phones may be limited.

This level of programming may not be suitable for everyone, depending on the needs of a participant. PHP provides a highly structured environment and can be very beneficial for those who are prone to relapse or require a high degree of organization and accountability. Living in and engaging with a highly structured program can help individuals practice sober living skills, providing an opportunity to conduct a practice run for the future.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)

Intensive Outpatient TreatmentIntensive outpatient treatment (IOP) is not a full-time program. The number of hours per week that it takes will depend on the specific program, but in general, IOP will take approximately 9-15 hours. IOP is usually split into two parts: individual therapy and group therapy sessions.

Through IOP programs, you can maintain a high level of engagement with therapy and treatment while moving back into responsibilities like work and family engagements. Some of these programs offer evening sessions, but it is more typical for treatment sessions to take place during the day.

Fully Outpatient Care

A fully outpatient level of care is the most “hands-off” level of outpatient care. Treatment at this stage only takes up an hour or a few hours per week. At this time, participants in fully outpatient care live at home and maintain their own independent living. Participants only come to the treatment facility for their appointment.

Most participants in this level of care are well-equipped to practice sober living skills and live a life that is characterized by high levels of responsibility and accountability for maintaining their long-term recovery. This kind of treatment is most beneficial for individuals who have already made good progress toward long-term addiction recovery and have been through inpatient treatment.

Benefits of an Inpatient Rehab for Recovery and Addiction:

When you’re selecting a program it can be helpful to weigh the benefits of an inpatient program vs. an outpatient program. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of an inpatient program!

  • Highly structured program and environment
    Continuing treatment after detox in an inpatient program can help individuals who are learning to navigate the world without depending on a substance.
  • Strong presence of accountability and support
    Accountability is a key trait that can help improve the chances of recovery and stretching out that recovery to a life-long status. The ability to remove yourself from your usual environment can be very helpful in achieving lifelong sobriety. All the time you spend at treatment is time spent away from situations, people, and places that tempt you to return to substance use.
  • Treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders
    Simply addressing the physical addiction to a substance doesn’t help the root causes that drive addiction and substance use. In addition, many individuals who struggle with addiction also have a co-occuring mental illness. In order to treat someone holistically, we must take into account mental illness alongside addiction.
  • Higher success rate for long-term recovery in the future
    Across all kinds of treatment programs, it has been observed that inpatient rehab is a significant help to those seeking long-term recovery. Inpatient rehab is a longer program than outpatient. This time frame allows for a more individualized and in-depth treatment process. Participants can take their time moving through the program and truly spend time learning and developing skills to support lifelong sobriety.

Benefits of an Outpatient Rehab for Recovery and Addiction:

Outpatient programs are great options for individuals who have a firm grasp on sober living skills and are looking for a program that will keep them in contact with resources for support and encouragement.

  • Flexibility and convenience
    Once you transition away from inpatient treatment programs, you’ll go back to living a more independent life away from the addiction treatment facility. Although you might not be spending as much time at the facility in treatment as before, there are still options available for you to receive support. Outpatient offers the flexibility of building around your independent schedule. Now that you’re back to more family-oriented or career-oriented responsibilities, you might not have as much time to fit in treatment. Outpatient programs can often be scheduled around your prior obligations.
  • Continued support after completing inpatient treatment
    Have you picked up a lot of useful information and skills to put into practice during your inpatient rehab program? Outpatient treatment programs can help you sustain that practice of using those skills in your independent life. Like any skill, you can improve and get better at things by practicing them and surrounding yourself with people who encourage you and hold you accountable when you make a mistake or aren’t sticking to your goals. Some outpatient treatment programs only take up a couple of hours per week. This treatment level is an opportunity to keep up with your long term recovery goals.
  • Affordability
    Outpatient treatment programs often cost less than inpatient treatment programs. The lower price point may be appealing to many people. However, when making a decision keep in mind your ability to remain on the path of recovery. Outpatient treatment is more affordable than inpatient treatment, but inpatient treatment may also be more beneficial for someone who is relapse prone or struggling with a more severe addiction.

At SUN Behavioral Columbus, we’re here to help you get the proper care you need. With our Co-occurring and Substance Use Disorders program, we address not just addiction, but mental health illnesses as well. We believe in treating the whole person in order to give you the best chance at long-term recovery. Contact us anytime at 614-706-2786 for treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does inpatient treatment mean?

Inpatient treatment is a level of care that typically follows an individual’s detoxification process. During inpatient treatment, a participant will engage with full-time therapy. Participants stay at the treatment facility for the duration of the program. The program aims to teach participants skills to continue to maintain their sobriety. These skills include stress management, time management, and healthy living skills.

What is the difference between inpatient and outpatient?

Inpatient and outpatient treatment are often best identified by where the participants live during the duration of treatment. Participants will stay at the inpatient facility for the duration of the program. Outpatient participants live at home and maintain an independent life, only visiting the facility for treatment. Inpatient treatment also offers more full-time support, including medical support.

Which is better inpatient or outpatient?

Those who are fresh out of detox can likely benefit more from inpatient care. This level of care takes care in a highly structured environment, which can help those beginning the journey towards lifelong recovery. Outpatient might be more suited for those who have already completed an inpatient program or are looking to receive some additional support while they are already practicing sober living skills.

What is considered outpatient psychiatric treatment?

Outpatient psychiatric treatment is any treatment or support that a patient will visit the facility for. Outpatient services don’t require the patient to stay at the facility for an extended period of time. For example, outpatient hospital visits might just include a patient going to their doctor appointment and getting lab work done.

Similarly, outpatient psychiatric treatment could just be a patient paying a regular visit to their psychiatrist to check up on how they’re handling new medication.

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