Inpatient vs. Outpatient: How To Know Which Is Right For You

15. December 2015

If you are searching for treatment for your loved one, or for yourself, you may feel overwhelmed by your choices. There are so many types of treatment offering different services and different settings, how do you know which to choose?

The best way to start is to keep things simple. Start with determining whether inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment is right for your loved one, and go from there.

The primary difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment is that an inpatient program requires that the person resides at the treatment center for the duration of the program. Programs can last from 30 to 90 days on average, with some programs lasting longer.

An outpatient program does not house program participants. Outpatient treatment consists of sessions that can last from a couple hours to the entire day. They may also be held in the evening and on weekends. After the session ends, you go home.

Why Choose An Inpatient Drug Treatment Program?

outpatient treatment for drug addiction

Inpatient treatment immerses you in recovery. From the moment you enter, you are in a safe, structured and supportive environment. Staff are on hand 24/7 to provide that support. For someone who has been living in their addiction for a long time, this level of support may feel overwhelming initially, but it also helps keep them on track, focused and free of distractions.

Who Benefits Most From An Inpatient Treatment Center?

Anyone who is in need of treatment can benefit from an inpatient treatment center.  In certain circumstances, it may not be appropriate, such as in the case of a person with specific medical needs that can’t be met by the treatment center.

People that are ideal candidates for inpatient treatment include those who may be ambivalent about getting clean and sober. Not everyone who shows up in treatment is happy to be there, and that is okay. Often, over the course of treatment, this changes. Many people who arrive in treatment begrudgingly experience a dramatic change of heart before their program is over.

Other situations that benefit from the more structured, supervised environment of inpatient treatment include:

  • A history of relapse
  • A relationship with a partner who is also using, or other unhealthy situation
  • Lives in a home where drugs and alcohol are being used
  • Is currently homeless
  • Is unlikely to commit to showing up to outpatient treatment every day

For someone who is currently living in a chaotic environment, or who has been on the streets, inpatient treatment can be a new lease on life. It allows the person to heal, regain their strength and clear their head. It gives them a sense of security. They are in a warm, safe and comfortable environment.

Inpatient treatment centers often follow the Therapeutic Community model (TC) of treatment. Members of the program share in the responsibilities of running the household. Weekly house meetings are held where house members can air differences, make decisions and problem solve together. This environment can help build confidence, communication skills and promote a sense of responsibility and accountability.

Why Choose An Outpatient Drug Treatment Program?

The choice to attend an outpatient treatment program is often made because inpatient treatment is not feasible for one reason or another. The two most common reasons are employment and family responsibilities. Outpatient treatment can be a lifesaver for the addicted individual who has children to care for, or needs to show up for work.

Outpatient treatment allows people to get the benefits of treatment while still being able to go to work, care for children or go to school.

Who is an ideal candidate for treatment?

Ideally, the person is expressing a willingness to get clean and sober and has a positive attitude about attending treatment. This is because there is no real supervision with outpatient treatment, although outpatient treatment programs generally require regular drug tests. Other factors that make outpatient a good choice include:

  • A strong support system of friends and family members who support his or her recovery.
  • A home that is free of drugs and alcohol.
  • Participation in other self-help activities, such as twelve steps meetings.
  • The ability and willingness to show up to the program when it is scheduled, and to submit to regular drug tests.

It is often advised that people who are attending outpatient programs seek housing in a sober living environment. This is an added layer of support, allowing the person to live independently, pursue work and school and participate in their program while living in a home that is clean and sober.

Outpatient programs offer similar services as inpatient treatment centers. There are group therapy sessions, individual counseling sessions, topical groups such as relapse prevention, anger management and parenting and educational groups. In addition, there is often an emphasis on life skills, and many outpatient programs offer assistance with things like job training and assistance and help in locating affordable housing.

Outpatient programs can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Each program has their own schedule, with some catering to people who have 9-5 jobs and meet in the evenings and on weekends, and some that are day programs.

Choosing A Treatment Center That Is Right For Your Loved One

Each person is different, with different needs, capabilities, and responsibilities. While inpatient treatment is often the recommended course, plenty of people get successfully clean and sober with the help of outpatient treatment. In the end, it is up to the person to make the choice of whether or not they are going to make the most of the treatment they are receiving.

Does Your Loved One Need An Intervention?

Is your family member resistant to getting treatment? Does he or she deny the problem, despite overwhelming evidence? Sometimes, denial is so strong that the addicted person needs help in breaking through it. In these cases, help from an outside party can make the difference.

Interventions are successful 90% of the time when they are facilitated by a professional who is trained to perform them. An intervention specialist not only provides help for the addicted family member, but also for the whole family. Supportive, compassionate and experienced, the specialists at Intervention Services, Inc. are there for you, your loved one and your whole family from the time you make the first phone call. Get the process of healing started, call 1-877-478-4621 today.