Inpatient vs Outpatient: Girl and grandpa at computer

The most difficult part of your journey toward success in recovery can be the decision to seek treatment for issues with substance use. Choosing to take charge of your relationship with drugs or alcohol can be a big task to undertake, but it’s an essential first step in the recovery process. There are many different types of substance use treatments to consider, including detox, different therapies, group and individual counseling, and more. All of these different treatment methods fall into one of two categories: inpatient or outpatient. 

So what are the differences between these two categories? Addiction Recovery Services is here to help explain these differences and help you determine which approach to treatment is right for you and your unique situation.

Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Care

On the most basic level, the biggest difference between inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs is whether the person seeking treatment stays overnight at the facility or not. In an inpatient treatment program, the person stays at the treatment facility each night, receiving treatment full time without returning home or leaving the facility.

The goal of outpatient treatment is to provide the very same treatment options, but rather than stay overnight at a facility, the person is free to return home after their treatment is done for the day. 

It’s important to realize that the question of inpatient vs. outpatient care isn’t as simple as saying one is more effective than the other. The question comes down to understanding which approach to treatment is best for the person and their particular situation.

In order to figure that out, it’s important to understand each type of treatment and its individual benefits.

Outpatient Care

Outpatient treatment for substance use issues involves daily treatment, such as counseling, and both individual and group therapies. All of this takes place at a licensed addiction treatment facility.

People who choose to enter outpatient treatment are able to attend educational and therapeutic programming during the day while still being able to fulfill their duties at home and work. Outpatient programs are typically less expensive than inpatient treatment, but they also provide a less intensive level of care. 

Benefits of Outpatient Treatment

There are many benefits to outpatient treatment programs that make them the best choice for many people. Some of these benefits include:

  • People receiving treatment are able to live at home, fulfilling obligations in their relationships and employment. This type of treatment is often appropriate for people with a strong support system of friends and family.
  • The cost of treatment is typically much lower for outpatient treatment programs than it is for inpatient care. This means outpatient care can be more appropriate for people who have minimal insurance coverage or are uninsured.
  • There are many types of therapy and counseling offered in outpatient programs. The person receiving treatment is able to work with their counselors and other healthcare professionals to figure out which types of counseling will be most effective for them and their situation.
  • Treatment appointments are often available for evenings and weekends, allowing the person receiving treatment to get care that works for their schedule.
  • Many outpatient programs are also able to treat patients with co-occurring issues or disorders. Some of these co-occurring issues include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Potential Drawbacks of Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient care may not be the best option for a person seeking addiction treatment if:

  • They experience constant, intense drug cravings. Because outpatient facilities are not open around the clock, they may not always offer 24-hour immediate care.
  • They have a difficult time attending treatment sessions on their own. The success of outpatient treatment programs relies on the person’s ability to attend and participate in treatment sessions.
  • They require treatment for multiple disorders and also need medical attention. Many outpatient programs may not be able to administer medications or offer intensive, multi-step recovery programs for complicated addictions.

Inpatient Care

Inpatient vs Outpatient: Woman on a walk

Inpatient programs are often referred to as live-in or residential programs because the person receiving treatment lives at the rehab facility while receiving treatment. These types of programs can be very effective for someone who is experiencing severe addiction to drugs or alcohol as well as people who are also experiencing underlying mental health conditions.

Living at an addiction treatment facility can help the person avoid the influences and temptations in their daily life that can trigger substance use.

Benefits of Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient care for substance use issues has several benefits that can make it the best treatment option for certain people:

  • Inpatient treatment offers both short-term and long-term options that are designed to help the person with everything from detox to preparing them for long-term success in recovery.
  • Residential addiction treatment facilities offer 24-hour support for people who require the most intensive treatment.
  • All treatment programs are highly structured and focused on all aspects of addiction, from education to skill teaching. This structure provided by inpatient care can help to create a solid foundation for successful recovery.
  • Safe housing and medical staff are available 24 hours a day. This can be crucial for someone who is facing severe addiction issues, especially if those issues are complicated by an underlying mental health disorder.

Potential Drawbacks of Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment programs will always require a larger commitment than outpatient programs. For a person considering which approach to take, it’s important to keep the following points in mind:

  • Inpatient care requires that the person disconnect from their daily life. Sometimes the most effective way to help a person learn to live life free of substance use is to remove them from their potentially harmful home environment and place them in a safe space where learning can occur. Because of this, the person may have to find care for children and take a leave of absence from their duties at work or school.
  • Treatment is rigidly structured and can be difficult. The treatment schedule is often determined for the person by staff. Some people may have difficulties transitioning to this type of rigid structure.
  • Costs are often higher for inpatient treatment than they are for outpatient. That said, the cost of addiction treatment will always be less than the cost of addiction itself.

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Reclaim Your Health and Find Success in Recovery With the Intensive Outpatient Program at Addiction Recovery Services

Whether you’re beginning or continuing your recovery, the intensive outpatient program (IOP) here at Addiction Recovery Services (ARS) can help guide you. Trying to understand all of the information about which program does what can be a difficult task. Recovery is already complex and scary, so getting started with it shouldn’t be.

Our goal here is to always have the resources someone needs to steer their life in the direction they know it should be going. So much of the struggle with addiction is also a struggle with control. IOP at ARS is set up to help everyone involved achieve control again.

Choosing outpatient rehab can be the first step someone takes toward recovery, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s just as useful as a next step for someone who has enrolled in and completed an inpatient rehab program already.

Our Medical Professionals Are Standing By To Help You Achieve Success and Health in Recovery

We hope you can make an informed choice about your recovery now after seeing all the ways the intensive outpatient program at ARS can help you in your battle with substance use disorder. We respect you before, during, and after your treatment. That includes respecting the path you choose to take to long-term recovery.

Our mission is to never make you feel like a failure, no matter if that’s when you enter or when you are enrolled in IOP. It’s hard to begin, and it can be hard to maintain long-term recovery. We focus on harm reduction because we believe it’s been shown to help people recover effectively.

If you or someone you know is ready to begin recovery, let us know. ARS has multiple pathways to recovery, each defined and chosen by what the person in recovery needs. 

Give us a call at 978-228-5853 to get started on your recovery.

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What is considered an inpatient stay?

An inpatient treatment program is any program that requires the client to attend treatment programming during the day and stay on-site overnight. This may be the best treatment option for anyone with severe addiction issues that require 24-hour medical care.

Why is outpatient better than inpatient?

Outpatient is not inherently better than inpatient for the treatment of substance use issues. Licensed treatment facilities will typically work with you to determine which approach to treatment is appropriate for your unique situation.

What is considered outpatient?

Outpatient treatment for substance use issues requires that a person attend treatment programming at a facility during the day, but they are free to sleep at home at night. This may be the best approach to treatment for someone who has a strong support system at home and obligations to fulfill.