Substance Abuse Programs: Choosing Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

substance abuse programs

All the recent focus on the opioid epidemic and opioid overdoes often obscures the much larger substance abuse problem. Researchers estimate that nearly 23 million Americans need treatment for substance dependence or substance abuse.

Even after a person decides they need help, the right approach isn’t always clear. There are several types of substance abuse programs. The two most common types are inpatient and outpatient programs.

Selecting the right program isn’t a matter of picking the one that’s closest to you or picking the first one you find. Inpatient and outpatient programs impose different expectations and offer different pros and cons. Understanding these differences will help you make the best decision for your needs.

So keep reading and we’ll break down how the different approaches work, as well as their benefits and pitfalls.

What Is Inpatient Rehab?

Inpatient rehab works as a residential program. In other words, you live at the rehab center for the entire length of your stay in rehab. You share a room in a standard program, but higher-end programs may offer the option for a single person room.

Program lengths can vary depending on your situation. A typical program runs for about one month. If you need additional help, though, some centers will extend your stay to three months or even six months.

During your stay, you follow a follow a strict schedule of activities. The activities typically include:

  • meals
  • recreation time
  • group therapy sessions
  • individual counseling
  • specialized treatments

Most rehab programs conduct family therapy, but not on a daily basis. Some rehab programs also use alternative treatments, such as meditation, art therapy, and yoga.

Pros and Cons

Inpatient programs offer a lot of benefits, but those benefits also create some costs.

One of the biggest benefits of an inpatient program is that it limits temptations and triggers. You can’t easily access drugs or alcohol. You also limit exposure to the things that make you want to use.

It’s an intensive program. You get a very high level of attention and care that supports your long-term recovery.

Residential programs let you focus on you for a period of time free from the responsibilities and expectations of your daily life.

Many people who abuse drugs or alcohol also suffer from mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. Inpatient programs show better results in helping people with kinds of co-occurring disorders.

Of course, inpatient programs are not without their pitfalls.

The residential aspect of the program means you must leave family or loved ones for a month. This proves especially difficult for single parents and those with small children.

Many employers prove unreceptive to the idea of you leaving your job for a month or longer for rehab treatment. While an employer can’t technically fire you for seeking treatment, some employers will find another pretense to let you go.

Inpatient programs typically cost substantially more than outpatient programs.

What is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab works as a non-residential program. Rather than residing at a rehab center, you live at home for the duration of treatment.

In an outpatient program, you still participate in several kinds of treatment. Specifically, you’ll routinely attend individual and group therapy sessions. In many cases, the program will also facilitate or encourage you to join a 12-step program.

Some programs run during the day, but many run on evenings and weekends. Some programs also require scheduled and random drug testing.

Pros and Cons

Outpatient programs do offer a few benefits but also suffer from numerous pitfalls.

The nature of outpatient programs makes it much easier for people with family or work obligations to meet those obligations. In most cases, you can keep working and be there for your family.

Friends and family can provide a social support network as you toward recovery. Outpatient programs also cost substantially less than inpatient programs.

On the downside, outpatient programs generally don’t work for those with advanced additions. The severity of advanced addictions makes the part-time support and supervision insufficient.

You don’t get a break from the temptations in your life, which makes relapse very likely. You also face constant exposure to all of your triggers.

The regular demands of your life can make it extremely difficult to devote yourself to your recovery. You can find yourself making choices between recovery activities and family needs.

For example, say that you should work on your personal inventory, but your kids need help with homework. Or, your spouse needs help fixing a problem with the kitchen plumbing. You may find saying no to those family needs proves almost impossible.

Choosing Between Inpatient and Outpatient Substance Abuse Programs

Your decision about whether an inpatient or outpatient program is the right option for you can prove complex.

For example, the severity of your addiction may make one program more viable than the other. If you’re in the early stages of addiction, an outpatient program can often do everything you need a program to do. If you’re in an advanced stage of addiction, an intensive inpatient program might prove your only real shot at long-term recovery.

Your family situation can also weigh heavily in the decision. For a single parent, attending an inpatient program may end up an impossibility.

For you to leave for a month or more, you need a responsible person who can care for your child or children. Many people don’t have anyone in their life that they trust that much.

Even if you’re married and your spouse supports rehab, leaving them behind with total responsibility can feel like a betrayal. You can also feel like the choice amounts to abandoning your children.

That isn’t the case, of course, but it’s often hard to see the logic through those kinds of feelings.

Then, you must confront the costs. If you don’t enjoy excellent insurance, it’s difficult for you to afford an inpatient program. An outpatient program might end up the only financially realistic choice for you.

The important thing you must remember is that any kind of help for your addiction is better than no help at all.

Drug Addiction Rehab Centers provide inpatient and outpatient substance abuse programs in the Baton Rouge area. For more information or to start the admissions process, contact us today.

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co-occurring disorders