Choosing inpatient vs. outpatient drug treatment isn’t always easy when you’re in the midst of battle with a serious addiction. However, inpatient treatment offers distinct benefits over outpatient treatment and vice versa, warranting a careful study of each in order to determine which type of drug addiction treatment is right for you or your loved one. We’ll start with the similarities between inpatient and outpatient, which are almost as numerous as the differences between the two.
Definition/Primary Differences of Inpatient vs. Outpatient Addiction/Alcoholism Treatment Programs:
Patients in an inpatient program generally live in the same facility where they receive treatment, while people attending outpatient programs usually go home or to a sober living facility after treatment.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Drug Treatment: Similarities
*Duration of Treatment: Surprisingly, the duration of treatment for addiction or alcoholism is similar for inpatient and outpatient programs and generally ranges from 30-90 days or longer. Outpatient programs may last for 6-9 months, a year or more because those treatments may only be provided once or twice per week, depending on the person and their particular circumstances. Conversely, most inpatient programs are 30 days long, but treatment is occurring virtually ’round the clock.
*Addiction Treatment Methods: At a modern, professional rehab center similar addiction therapies will be used regardless of whether the program is inpatient or outpatient. Patients and parents or loved ones should look for programs that offer evidence-based practices such as cognitive behavior therapy, individual, group and family therapy, multi-dimensional family therapy and other types of treatment methods including medication when appropriate.
*Types of Addiction: Outpatient or inpatient, the specific addiction generally does not matter: alcoholism, cocaine, marijuana, opiates, meth and all other types of addictions can be treated using either type of treatment program. The type of treatment depends more on the individual than any general factors.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Drug Treatment: Differences
*Supervision & Environment: Inpatient drug treatment programs (also referred to as Residential Inpatient programs) feature a significantly higher level of supervision and an environment that restricts or eliminates the possibility of acquiring and/or using drugs or alcohol. This is because the patient lives and receives treatment in the same, often secure or semi-secure environment staffed by addiction professionals 24 hours per day.
Outpatient programs are much different. The “outpatient” generally arrives for treatment and leaves again within a few hours. While time spent directly involved with treatment is often closely monitored, the patient leaves afterward to return to their community. In some cases this can be a sober living house or some other monitored/staffed facility, but many patients simply go home after treatment and live a fairly normal life. However, people who are mandated to receive outpatient treatment are often monitored by probation officers or other authorities, providing additional incentive for an outpatient to stay clean despite their freedoms.
*Cost: Calculating the cost of inpatient vs. outpatient treatment is difficult because within each type of treatment there are many levels of services, benefits and other differences that significantly affect the overall cost. When compared in a linear fashion – meaning 30 days of inpatient rehab vs. 30 days of outpatient rehab, inpatient programs are nearly always more expensive. This is because during those 30 days an inpatient program provides everything from room and board to groceries and meals, transportation, 24 hour nursing, etc. Conversely, an outpatient program usually provides therapy several times a week and little more (excepting outreach programs, networking, etc).
*Flexibility: Comparatively speaking, inpatient drug treatment centers are deliberately inflexible. In order to complete an inpatient program a person will not be permitted to work or live at home or even to shop for food unsupervised. In some cases exceptions are made for emergencies, but overall the point of an inpatient program is to stop everything and focus only on getting clean.
Outpatient programs are on the opposite end of the spectrum and are quite flexible, allowing patients to live at home, continue to work or go to school and generally live an unrestricted life. While this level of freedom is prized by some, it also leads to greater and more frequent temptations.
To learn more about the specific differences between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, call 1-800-706-9190 or use one of our secure contact forms to ask any questions.