If you’re struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol and looking for help online, you should be proud. The urge to overcome a substance use disorder is the first step on the recovery journey. However, with so many treatment options, the research process can feel confusing and intimidating. In this article, we’ll help you understand the differences between inpatient vs outpatient rehab so you can make an informed decision about which option is best for you.
What Is Inpatient Rehab?
Inpatient rehab is another term for residential rehab. When you enter this type of program, you commit to spending a set amount of time — usually one to three months — dedicating your life to recovery. This means leaving home and taking time out from your responsibilities and triggers to focus on learning about addiction and exploring various methods of healing from it.
On the first day, you’ll meet with a doctor who carries out a thorough medical assessment. They’ll ask you questions about your medical history and conduct a physical examination. When it’s complete, they’ll liaise with the rest of your recovery team to create a customized treatment plan that takes into account your specific needs.
In residential rehab, there are usually additional alternative treatment methods such as fitness classes, psychoeducation, alpha stim treatment, satori chair sessions and EMDR. You’ll enjoy a variety of these activities in addition to the usual group therapy, one-on-one counseling and family therapy.
You’ll spend several weeks in a highly structured and organized environment that’s designed to promote recovery in a community setting. Residential rehab is unique because it’s an opportunity to hit the reset button on your unhelpful habits under the guidance of medical professionals. Not only that, but you form close-knit bonds with your peers and the staff. This makes it easier to open up, and openness is one of the most important qualities you need to be able to access in recovery.
What Is Outpatient Rehab?
Outpatient rehab is a less structured version of addiction treatment. Instead of sleeping in the facility or spending time together outside of therapy, you meet up to five times a week. In many cases, the content that you cover is similar in inpatient vs outpatient rehab. Both start with an assessment from a doctor. Residential and outpatient rehab also both include a mixture of group sessions, one-on-one counseling and family therapy.
If you have a loving support network and a safe, calm home environment, outpatient rehab can work well. However, it can be difficult for someone in more challenging circumstances to cope with life as usual while trying to make the changes necessary for recovery.
Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab: A Comparison
Whether inpatient or outpatient is better for you depends on your individual circumstances. There is no single method of treatment that works for everyone. Instead, it’s a mixture of various therapies, counseling styles, education and lifestyle changes that bring about success for any individual. The more time you can dedicate to these practices, the better chance of long-term recovery you have.
In some cases, it might be the severity of the substance use disorder that dictates how long you spend in rehab.
Mild Substance Use Disorder
You only really see mild addiction in people who haven’t been abusing drugs or alcohol for a chronic period of time. Even the mildest addiction has the potential to progress to the next stage of severity. Most addiction specialists agree that substance use disorders are progressive diseases. As your tolerance increases, you’ll need to take more to get the same effect. As you take more and more, the substance has more of a hold over you.
Some people suggest outpatient rehab is the only option for a mild SUD, but we disagree. Any level of addiction is a signal that you’re struggling to cope with or regulate your emotions. In residential rehab, you get more time, space and guidance to explore why you’ve turned to substances so you can do your best to avoid them in the future.
Moderate Substance Use Disorder
A moderate substance use disorder can affect different people in very distinct ways. One person may be able to keep a job and support themselves, while another’s life is turned upside down. If you can’t take time off from work or have other responsibilities you can’t cover, outpatient is probably the best option. However, if you can take the time out from work on medical grounds and get coverage for anything else, inpatient rehab gives you the best chance of long-term success.
Severe Substance Use Disorder
When it comes to severe substance use disorders, inpatient rehab is the best course of action. You can get access to medication and around-the-clock care from dedicated addiction specialists. When addiction is at its worst, it can entirely take over your life and leave your hobbies, personality and dreams for the future behind. In residential rehab, you have the full support of a team of experts and a ready-made peer support network to help you rediscover yourself.
Inpatient vs Outpatient Drug Rehab: Which Is Cheaper?
People often assume that outpatient treatment is always cheaper than inpatient treatment. However, that doesn’t take into account the fact that someone might need to keep going back to outpatient services if treatment is unsuccessful. It can be harder for caregivers to spot issues like underlying mental health conditions in an outpatient setting.
Inpatient rehab covers a wider range of therapy and gives each member of the community the best chance of maintaining sobriety long term.