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The Differences Between Inpatient And Outpatient Rehab

Once you’ve admitted you have a substance use problem, deciding to enter rehab is a wise choice. Taking that next step to ask for help and actually commit to it can play a huge role in your long-term recovery.

Most people researching and seeking drug and alcohol addiction treatment will enter inpatient or outpatient rehab. As the names suggest, inpatient rehab, also known as residential rehab, is an intensive 24-hour treatment done in a safe setting.

Then, there is outpatient rehab, which follows many of the same guidelines but has less structure and a lot more freedom as you go home every evening.

The Differences Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab

Deciding on Rehab

Choosing which rehab model is best for you is not as simple as saying you’d prefer to sleep in your own bed, or you don’t want a roommate.

The differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab may be less than obvious but can really contribute to how well you handle recovery and how long you stay sober.

It is essential to point out that both inpatient and outpatient rehabs are effective and useful. Studies show that neither is necessarily more successful than the other, but the longer you remain in treatment, the better the outcome seems to be. 

Your recovery is also based on what option is best for you, not best for the greater amount of people. 

One study found that “patients with high psychiatric severity and/or a poor social support system are predicted to have a better outcome in inpatient treatment, while patients with low psychiatric severity and/or a good social support system may do well as outpatients without incurring the higher costs of inpatient treatment.”

That is to say that those who have a solid support system at home may not require the structure of inpatient rehab, and those who need more in-depth psychiatric help beyond addiction do better in an inpatient or residential setting.

Beyond this difference, which a health care professional would typically decide, it is up to you to determine which rehab option is best for you.

The Benefits of Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab is intensive addiction treatment. It often begins with detox and then offers a focused treatment plan that can last a few weeks to up to a year in some cases. 

During inpatient rehab, you have access to educational resources on addiction, interact with others in recovery, go through different types of therapy, and prepare for life outside. 

Inpatient rehab can be specifically beneficial to some because it offers more treatments in a smaller time span, as you are there all day. You also have a safe and controlled environment. 

For those at a greater risk of relapse, for instance, or those who have relapsed before or are struggling to come to terms with their addiction, the intensity of inpatient rehab may be the best option. 

Once inpatient rehab is completed, most clients will continue with outpatient treatment. This is a great way to adjust to the outside world and face triggers and other stressors without losing all access to the benefits of rehab.

As stated earlier, inpatient rehab is also highly beneficial for those with a dual diagnosis of addiction and a psychiatric or mental health disorder. Inpatient rehab offers the client full treatment for all ailments as health care providers are available around the clock. 

Although this setup seems ideal for many, it isn’t always a necessary or feasible option. Living in a residential facility will require time away from school, work, and family. For some, that isn’t an option. 

The Benefits of Outpatient Rehab

While the complete focus inpatient rehab offers can be just what some people need, outpatient rehab can be just as effective for those needing flexibility. 

Outpatient rehab can differ but often takes place five days a week for five to eight hours a day. This can be reduced to fewer days a week and fewer hours per day as treatment progresses.

Outpatient treatment involves a lot of similar therapies as inpatient treatment, such as group therapy, counseling, education courses, and even family therapy. Because outpatient treatment has you at home at night — working, caring for family, etc. — it comes with its own pros and cons.

For example, you can practice as you are learning. While still in active treatment with a support system, you can cope with triggers and stressors and see what works for you and what doesn’t. 

This can be beneficial for some or scary for others. Being launched in real life during rehab can be overwhelming when you haven’t had time to entirely focus on your sobriety. You are exposed to uncertain situations, stress, and triggers you may not be prepared for. 

With that said, you would also have less to adjust to after graduating from rehab, as you would already have been exposed to all of these things during treatment.

Know Your Options

Inpatient and outpatient rehab programs are the top two options for addiction centers, but neither is right for everyone. Both are effective treatment options but come with pros and cons depending on your needs at the time of treatment.

After knowing your options and learning as much as you can about what to expect from both, discussing them with a health care provider can help you see which is in your best interest. Inpatient rehab offers around-the-clock care, fully focused treatment, and little to no distractions. Outpatient rehab provides similar therapies while providing a level of independence and freedom. This can help you work through rehab while living your regular life or be a risk if you are prone to relapse.

No matter which option you choose, getting help is always the wise choice. Help starts with detox. Finding a detox center can be a pain, but it’s easier with We’ll help you find the ideal detox center near you for your specific needs.

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