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Inpatient vs. Outpatient Addiction Treatment: Exploring the Differences

Once you have decided that you or a loved one needs help for addiction, you have to choose where to get treatment. One of the first decisions is whether you want an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. While these two types of programs do share many similarities, they also have their differences. Some people choose to start at an inpatient luxury rehab program and then transition to an outpatient program, while others choose one or the other. For many people, inpatient rehab is a good option because it provides continuous care and gives them the structure they need to recover.

Similarities Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

There are numerous ways in which inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment overlap. Both programs are focused on helping you to identify triggers, overcome challenges, and create positive changes in your life to reduce risk of relapse and become healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally. The staff wants to see you be successful and enter into long-term recovery. Here are some other common similarities:

  • Both programs provide individual and group therapy options.
  • Both programs encourage ongoing participation in support groups.
  • Both programs have specific rules and expectations that you are supposed to follow.

Differences Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

There are also a lot of differences between these two types of programs. It’s important to weigh your options and figure out which program is best for you and your needs.

  • Inpatient treatment is often more intensive than outpatient. It tends to be a more structured and controlled atmosphere because you stay there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With outpatient treatment, you go home in the evenings and on weekends, so the organization of the program is usually different.
  • There is less temptation in inpatient treatment because it is a substance-free facility. There is no access to drugs or alcohol. In an outpatient program, you are out in the community and in your own home where you have access and greater temptation to use these substances.
  • Inpatient treatment may offer more therapies and activities than outpatient since clients are there all the time. You may be able to engage in acupuncture, massages, yoga, and a variety of other recreational and therapeutic activities more easily than those in an outpatient treatment. Services are provided for you instead of you having to go out and find them on your own.
  • Outpatient treatment allows you to spend more time with your family since you go home each night. However, inpatient programs typically have visiting hours and family programs where your loved ones can come and participate. You can also call and talk to them or possibly video chat on the computer.
  • Inpatient programs tend to last longer, thought outpatient programs are often open-ended. Inpatient treatment could be between 30 and 90 days or longer. Your length of stay will depend on your progress and when you are ready to transition back into the community. With outpatient you often have a little more flexibility as to how long treatment lasts.
  • While outpatient programs allow to you to remain in the comfort of your own home, inpatient treatment can provide a much needed change of scenery. You are in a different atmosphere where you can focus on your recovery and health and not be distracted by the pull of things at home. You’re not tempted by friends who are still in active addiction, or going past places that bring up memories of substance use.
  • If you have to or need to continue working, outpatient treatment allows you to stay closer to your job. Although you’ll be in treatment all day, you may be able to work part-time in the evenings or on weekends. However, working while in addiction treatment is not always the best choice because sometimes it is your work that is a contributing factor to addiction in the first place.

Making the Choice between Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment

The choice ultimately comes down to your needs and preferences. You have to decide whether you would ultimately benefit from being in a separate inpatient setting where you’re fully focused on recovery or whether you can handle remaining at home where there are more distractions and temptations present. If you’re unsure, it’s not a bad idea to start at an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab facility where you will have 24-hour support and supervision. Although this may sound overwhelming at first, it can get you in the right frame of mind to embrace treatment and put all of your focus and energy on recovery.

Once you complete an intensive inpatient program, you may feel that you are prepared to transition back home with access to the right supports and resources. Or, you may choose to enter into an outpatient program for a little more structured guidance. You could opt to spend time in a sober living home as well. You and your care team can decide what the best options are for you and your recovery.

If you are ready to make the most of your treatment, Chapters Capistrano provides comprehensive yet customized inpatient treatment programs tailored to your needs. There are even dual diagnosis programs for those struggling with a mental health disorder in addition to a substance use disorder to address both issues simultaneously. Start your recovery from addiction today by contacting Chapters Capistrano at 949-371-4198.