Inpatient or Outpatient Addiction Treatment? It Depends on the Person

Inpatient or Outpatient Addiction Treatment? It Depends on the PersonWhen a person is ready to face addiction head-on, the first crucial barrier has been crossed. But once that decision has been made, there are still some important things to decide – such as, should the person receive outpatient treatment or would residential care be more suitable? Both treatment options offer benefits depending upon an individual’s particular situation and needs. Here’s a bird’s eye view of both approaches.

Outpatient Care

With outpatient treatment the person may continue living at home. He or she can still attend school, go to work and is still surrounded by friends and family. Outpatient care allows a person to maintain a certain degree of privacy and anonymity since to the outside world there is no perceptible change. No one has to explain why there was a big educational gap, a change in schools or an extended absence from the job.

The downside to outpatient care is actually similar to the benefits – the person still lives at home and interacts with the same people every day as he or she did when using. In other words, the same stresses, influences and temptations are present while they are working on recovery. It will be largely up to them to refrain from using drugs or alcohol. If drug- or alcohol-using friends are still in the picture, this can be very hard. And the stresses of work, school and family will only be compounded by attempts to make a complete lifestyle change.

Outpatient treatment can provide one-on-one counseling, which helps the individual understand the whys of the addiction along with the how-tos of breaking a bad cycle. Outpatient care can include group counseling, which provides an immediate source of new friendships that can be supportive of the person’s work toward recovery.

Inpatient Care

Inpatient or residential treatment usually lasts for at least 28 days. With inpatient care the individual lives, sleeps and receives treatment in a set-apart location. Some residential facilities offer medical detox programs to safely and less painfully wean users off their substance. Either way, residential programs provide a safe and focused environment with few distractions and where everything and everyone supports the goal of recovery.

There is usually a certain amount of structure involved but, on the other hand, the person is not having to deal with the day-to-day stresses of life at the same time as they are working through their addiction. Inpatient care allows the person to get away from triggers, such as friends who use drugs or alcohol and the places where it was consumed.

Residential inpatient treatment offers full attention in an environment where the person is accepted and understood. Meals, counseling, exercise and scheduled activities all work together to equip the person with new skills for living sober. And the constant community of fellow patients provides a level of support which tends to speed up recovery.

The chief concern with residential care is usually cost. On the other hand, some people try outpatient treatment once or several times only to relapse repeatedly. In some cases, not until they commit to residential treatment do they find long-term success.

Whether to choose inpatient or outpatient care is an individual decision. It will depend in some measure on whether or not a person can leave his or her job or family as well as financial concerns. It is also a matter of how long the person has been involved with drugs or alcohol. A short-term addiction may not require full-time treatment while a long-standing addiction of many years may need a complete break with the current environment before it can be overcome.