Finding a rehab program means choosing a therapy method that works for you and deciding whether you want to attend an inpatient or outpatient program. While there are pros and cons to each option, most people should choose inpatient or outpatient rehab based on personal factors, the extent of their substance dependence, and the methods, if any, they have used to get clean in the past. Choosing to go to rehab to get help is always the right choice. No matter what your eventual decision, you are doing the right thing and you will have the opportunity to get help and make your life better. However, researching your options and making the best decision for your needs will give you a head start on moving past your addiction and towards a better life.
What’s the Difference Between Inpatient & Outpatient Rehab?
Inpatient and outpatient rehab typically have two to three major differences. Inpatient rehab is held in an isolated location, typically a clinic with its own grounds, cooks, doctors, and medical care – away from the possibility of slipping up and returning to drug use. Outpatient rehab allows you to stay at your own home and go to work or school, and is less intrusive than inpatient care, but does not remove you from the people, places, and things that cause you to use in your current life.
Inpatient rehab is the classic rehabilitation that most of us think of when we think ‘rehab’. In most cases, programs last 30 days to over 18 months, or an average of 90 days. Most programs require you to notify your friends and family, make arrangements for rent and pets, find caregivers for children or find a rehabilitation center that offers childcare, and plan your trip so that your home, pets, and other responsibilities are taken care of. Inpatient treatment is held at a residential treatment center, where you receive 24/7 care from staff including doctors, with medical care and medicine to treat your substance dependence as needed. Depending on the rehabilitation center, you may have access to resort style pools, suites, gyms, and food – or your care may be very basic with shared rooms, cafeteria meals, and limited entertainment.
Family Counseling – Most inpatient programs offer family counseling and activities, designed to help family cope with addiction, resolve enabling behaviors, and learn to mend relationships – so that all of you can move towards recovery. In some cases, inpatient care also offers child care for single parents with one to two children.
Custom Treatment – Most inpatient treatment centers will create a custom program designed to treat specific problems, trauma, comorbid mental disorders, mental health issues, physical health problems, and even to combat whether you have unsuccessfully been through treatment before.
Extra Care – Many inpatient rehab centers focus on building skills that will help you to stay clean or sober once you leave the facility. This can include fitness and exercise, mindfulness, meditation, nutrition, cooking, childcare, and other opportunities. However, these offerings will depend on the inpatient rehab center.
Inpatient rehab isolates you from your life, removing you from stress, worries, and responsibilities so that you can focus on getting well. During the treatment, you will be attended by medical professionals who will help you through physical withdrawal safely, and then given therapy and assistance in learning to handle cravings, move past a mental addiction, and identify and learn to cope with cravings.
Pros of Inpatient Rehab
- Isolates you from stress and responsibilities
- Removes you from an environment in which you can use
- Medical detox supervision
- Planned days to ensure that you maximize the use of your time
- Family support and therapy
- Skills training and learning
Cons of Inpatient Rehab
- More expensive than outpatient rehab
- There is a re-adaptation period once you leave
- It may be difficult to get time away from work
- You will have to handle responsibilities such as bills, pet care, child care, etc., before going.
- As many as 70% of patients use immediately on leaving but most are clean within 1 week.
Outpatient rehab is less ideal than inpatient rehab in some ways but more convenient in others. Outpatient programs typically involve 12 or more weeks of daily sessions, typically 3-6 hours, with a therapist. During outpatient rehabilitation, you can continue to go to work and school, take care of responsibilities, and continue to live your life so long as you can make it to your daily scheduled meetings. Outpatient care includes medical supervision, medicine when needed to help with physical substance dependance and to prevent relapse, counseling, group counseling, and sometimes additional skills learning.
Intensive Outpatient – Intensive outpatient care is typically 6 hours per day, typically in the evening after work, allowing you to commit to regular responsibilities. Here, a therapist will work with you, you may engage in group activities, and you will learn new skills in therapy such as coping with stress, cravings, or triggers.
Outpatient Detox – Outpatient detox programs are suitable for patients with mild to moderate detox symptoms who need medical monitoring but not 24/7 care. Outpatient care is advantageous in that you can continue your responsibilities, but it does not remove you from life or work stress, which may be causing your addiction. Because you won’t be able to focus on yourself and on getting clean, it can be more difficult to succeed with outpatient care. Most outpatient care programs work to combat this by helping you to tackle individual obstacles, working with you to help you manage stress, and helping you to make decisions that will improve your life.
Pros of Outpatient Rehab
- Cheaper than inpatient rehab
- Convenient and easier for most to attend
- Includes medical supervision and medicine where needed
- Enables you to uphold existing responsibilities while helping yourself
Cons of Outpatient Rehab
- More difficult than inpatient care as you will have to handle daily life and stress at the same time
- Only suitable for patients with mild to moderate addiction and withdrawal symptoms
- Can be overwhelming on top of additional responsibilities
- Does not remove you from the possibility of using during treatment
Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab – Which is More Effective
Choosing a rehabilitation option is often about choosing the most effective, and the most likely to be able to help you. However, both inpatient and outpatient rehab show near similarity in long-term effectiveness. In one study comparing 3,047 clients from 97 rehabilitation clinics, outpatient programs were shown to be almost as effective as inpatient programs, providing you finish the treatment. However, persons taking outpatient treatment face a significantly higher risk of early failure, in which you drop out, begin using, or otherwise end your program prematurely, resulting in continued addiction. This can be prompted by stress, availability of substances, an overwhelming schedule, or triggers such as substance using friends, life events, or other problems.
Detox – Inpatient and outpatient detox can vary a great deal, and you do want to pay attention based on your symptoms. Outpatient detox typically lasts 6 days and involves daily trips to a medical professional for 15-20 minutes per day, who will check vitals, recommend additional care, or administer methadone or another drug to aid withdrawal as deemed necessary. Inpatient programs are much more intensive, last an average of 14 days, and involve monitoring and medicine to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Outpatient detox is typically only suitable if you have mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms, as severe withdrawal symptoms can be health or life threatening if not monitored.
How to Decide Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab?
In most cases, you can choose between inpatient and outpatient rehab based on your own personal problems and life. For example, if you are heavily addicted and experience strong withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop use, you may need an inpatient program to help you through detox. This will allow you to detox safely, without risking seizures, heart problems, or other issues. You may also want to seek out inpatient care if you have been through treatment before and failed, have multiple stressful responsibilities, dislike your job, are frequently exposed to triggers or substances in your daily life, or are using to cope with your existing life situation. If you don’t experience a great deal of stress during your daily life, have enough free time to commit to your rehabilitation, have mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms, and can quit using on your own without being forced away from your substance, outpatient treatment is a very viable option. Choosing to go to rehab is a big step, but it will help you. No matter what you choose, you are making the right choice, and your therapist and doctor will be able to guide you towards staying clean or sober, so you can get your life back. Oceanfront Recovery is located in in Southern California in beautiful and sunny Laguna Beach. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, please contact one of our professional and compassionate team at 877-279-1777 to begin the journey of recovery today.