Inpatient vs outpatient

July 21, 2017


I think we can all agree that substance abuse, whether drugs or alcohol, can ruin lives...right?

That’s why when these addictions become persistent, it becomes imperative for the victim to seek out rehabilitation services that could help them return to a normal life. Before doing so, however, it’s prudent to learn about the options available to you and/or your loved ones, whether it be inpatient or outpatient programs.

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Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehabilitation Programs

alcohol addiction

Did you know that illicit drug use in the United States has been rising since 2002? Ultimately, this kind of lifestyle is not just costing you and your family, but the country as well. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse for tobacco, alcoholism and drug addiction costs the country more than $730 billion annually--meaning, from crime, productivity, as well as health care. As such, it is imperative for drug addicts to change their ways, not just for the sake of their families but for the welfare of the nation as well.

Rehabilitation programs generally fall into two categories: outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation programs. As such, it is ideal to choose the program that best suits your needs.

Outpatient programs

group counseling meeting drug addiction

Outpatient rehabilitation programs require part-time attendance. Patients are required to attend rehabilitation centers for about 10 to 12 hours a week. These programs typically run for 3 to 6 months, but they may even last longer depending on the needs of the patient.

The state website on health care explains that three types of facilities may qualify as outpatient rehabilitation providers, or ORP: 1.) rehabilitation agency; 2.) clinic; and 3.) public health agency. Such a program is ideal for mild levels of addiction or patients who wish to continue with therapy after inpatient rehabilitation. The program often starts with a detoxification process, followed by psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy sessions.

Pros of getting into outpatient programs

  • Outpatient programs are often more affordable than inpatient programs.
  • Outpatient programs are ideal because they allow you to attend work, school or at least be with the family. As such, the patient’s social and personal schedule is not interrupted.
  • Patients can engage their family in getting support to eliminate bad habits.
  • The program also allows you to exercise control and practice actual relapse prevention in the actual world of temptations and influence.

Cons of getting into outpatient programs

  • Patients attending outpatient programs lack 24-hour monitoring and care. As such, there is possible relapse pressure and failure of getting care in emergency situations.
  • There is easy access to abused substances in outpatient programs. Therefore, potential relapse is higher than in inpatient programs.
  • If the home environment is stressful and unstable, there is high likelihood of relapse than is the case in inpatient programs.
  • Withdrawal challenges may go unmonitored in outpatient cases, and in some cases, they may not be taken care of if the patient is away from the rehabilitation facility.

Inpatient rehabilitation programs

drug rehab inpatient

On the other hand, inpatient rehab programs are more intensive programs conducted in a residential setup. These programs are often designed for serious cases of addiction. Such programs require you to check in to a controlled environment in which you will reside for 2 4 hours while undergoing rehabilitation.

The programs are unique because they use seclusion among other therapies akin to those used in outpatient programs. The seclusion is meant to eliminate environmental influence that often leads to relapse. The program is ideal for those that are seriously addicted.

The state website on health care provides an extensive list of accredited inpatient rehabilitation facilities in which you or your loved one can enroll. It often lasts from one to six months, but it can take longer depending on the needs of the patient. The program uses the same procedure employed in outpatient programs, but there is 24-hour monitoring of patients.

Pros of inpatient programs

  • Inpatient programs offer a sober and stable environment in which influence and substances are totally unavailable, making it ideal for full recovery potential. As a patient, you will have less temptation, which may lead to relapses.
  • There is a 24-hour monitoring of withdrawal symptoms and other essentials, and therefore it is ideal for people with serious addictions and severe withdrawal effects. The program is also ideal for addicts with co - occurring problems such as mental illnesses.
  • The relapse potential is low because there is close supervision and monitoring of patients.
  • The 24-hour availability of patients in inpatient programs also allows for the inclusion of more intensive therapy programs that may include yoga, art, equine, and music therapies as well as a multitude of other activities. In addition, there is intense staff support and less exposure to triggers of stress.

Cons of Inpatient Programs

  • There is limited access to family, friends, and the outside world. Sometimes the support of your family and friends is essential for recovery and restrictions to their access may influence recovery.
  • Inpatient programs hinder you from working, schooling, or engaging in parenting. In such cases, you may even have to incur extra costs to find caregivers to take care of your young children and elderly parents if you have some back at home.
  • Inpatient programs are often more expensive than outpatient programs, and you will be compelled to incur more costs in inpatient programs.

Factors to consider when choosing a rehab program

Choosing a rehabilitation program simply needs you to match your needs to the program's features, so as to reap maximum benefits. Picking the ideal program is not an easy task, and you need to take time and consult before making a decision. Here are some of the most important factors to consider.

  1. Time. How much time do you want to spend in rehabilitation facility? If you are totally free, then an inpatient program may be ideal. But if you have to take care of children or attend school or work, an outpatient program is ideal.
  2. The severity of addiction. If you are seriously addicted, an inpatient program may be ideal because it is intense, and it eliminates negative influences that may lead to relapse. However, if you are not seriously addicted, the outpatient program is the perfect option.
  3. Environment. If your environment has stressors or triggers of stress and negative influence or a high availability of substances, then an inpatient program is ideal.
  4. Co-occurring conditions. If you have co-occurring conditions, you will be admitted to an inpatient rehabilitation facility because you may need 24-hour monitoring and additional support.
  5. Distance. If you live far away from a rehabilitation center, then you may have to choose the inpatient option. However, if you live in close proximity to one, then an outpatient program may be ideal.

In summary

Rehabilitation is a necessary thing for substance abusers, and different substance abusers have differing needs based on how seriously addicted they are and how long they have been addicted. The substance of addiction also differs as well as other considerations such as health, age, socioeconomic status among many other factors. All these are significant to deciding whether you should go for an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation facility.

The Author | Jeffery Knight
Jeff is a Husband and father two. He calls southern california his home, and enjoys spend relaxing weekends with his family. View More Post from Jeffery Knight