If you’re looking into addiction treatment programs, you will find that there are a variety of options available. Oftentimes, rehab programs are divided into two categories: inpatient and outpatient programming.

You may be wondering about the specifics of these two types of programs. Here, we will describe the difference between inpatient and outpatient care, as well as the pros and cons of each option.

What is inpatient treatment?

Inpatient treatment, sometimes called residential treatment, is any type of rehab program in which patients live on-site in a hospital or at a treatment facility while they receive services. Patients who require inpatient care often live with severe addictions, and they require an inpatient stay to become stabilized and address any co-occurring issues, such as mental illness or physical health problems, that occur alongside addiction.

What is inpatient treatment like?

Some inpatient programs are very clinical in nature, with patients staying in a hospital and receiving around-the-clock medical care and psychiatric support. It is not unusual for addiction rehab at this level of care to begin with an inpatient detox program, in which patients receive medications and other medical care to keep them as safe and as comfortable as possible as the body rids itself of drugs.

Where does inpatient treatment take place?

While some inpatient programs occur in a hospital setting, others are more residential in nature, with patients staying in a home-like treatment center where they have their own rooms, or perhaps share a suite with a roommate. Patients live on-site at their facility while undergoing rehab. During their stay, patients receive medical care and participate in individual therapy, group counseling, and a variety of recreational activities, such as art therapy, physical activity, and group outings.

The purpose of inpatient treatment is to get patients started in the recovery process in a safe environment, where they are not exposed to triggers for drug use. For instance, while in an inpatient setting, patients in recovery do not have access to drug suppliers or to the people they spent time with while in active addiction.

What is outpatient treatment?

Outpatient treatment, on the other hand, does not occur in a residential setting. Instead of staying on-site at a treatment facility, patients receiving outpatient services attend appointments at a clinic or treatment center and then return home afterward. Outpatient addiction services usually involve a combination of individual and group counseling, and some patients may also take medications to help them manage drug cravings.

Some people begin their treatment journey with an outpatient program, which is appropriate for patients who have a safe, drug-free living environment, as well as the motivation and support to stay sober while living in the community. In some instances, people may begin with an inpatient program and then transition into outpatient care once they’ve become more stable in their recovery.

Is all outpatient treatment the same?

It is also important to understand that there are multiple levels of outpatient care. For instance, standard outpatient services offer under 9 hours of service per week. Someone in this type of program may attend individual counseling appointments once or twice a week to maintain sobriety.

On the other hand, intensive outpatient services include 9 or more hours of service each week, and are more structured and involved than standard outpatient care. Someone in intensive outpatient services may participate in multiple group and individual sessions per week, sometimes spending three to four hours a day in a treatment setting.

Other outpatient options

Finally, partial hospitalization services, while technically a form of outpatient care, are highly structured and require a great deal of time commitment. People receiving partial hospitalization services participate in treatment for 20 or more hours per week. They may attend a treatment program for most of the day Monday through Friday, but return home in the evening. This type of outpatient programming is appropriate for those who do not need 24-hour care, but who have severe addictions that require intensive services.

Pros and Cons of Inpatient and Outpatient Care

If you’re exploring different treatment programs, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of both inpatient and outpatient care. One advantage of inpatient care is that it removes you from the environment that led you to become addicted. If you live in a home with others who are using drugs, or if your addiction is so severe that you cannot stay sober in your home community, inpatient programs can help you to establish a period of sobriety so you’re better prepared to fight against your addiction. On the other hand, inpatient care takes you away from your home and family, which isn’t always an option. Inpatient treatment is also more expensive than outpatient care.

Outpatient care also offers pros and cons. One benefit is that outpatient programs tend to be flexible, and you can schedule appointments at times that fit your schedule, while still caring for your family and going to work. These services are also cheaper, and they tend to be easier to get into than inpatient programs, which have a limited number of beds. The drawback of outpatient care is that some patients may find it difficult to establish a lasting period of sobriety while living in the community and confronting triggers associated with drug use.

Best treatment options

Ultimately, the best treatment option depends upon each patient’s unique needs. Some people may need to begin with inpatient treatment to break the cycle of drug use. Others may find that the support offered in an outpatient program is sufficient to get them started on the path toward sobriety.

Teletherapy treatment options for addiction

Another treatment option that has become more popular in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is teletherapy for addiction. With teletherapy, patients can receive services from the comfort of home using technology like webcams and laptops to connect with an addiction counselor.

At irecoveryusa.com, we offer addiction services in a 100% remote format via our teletherapy app. Patients can receive all the services associated with outpatient care, including individual and group counseling, as well as MAT, from the comfort and convenience of home. Visit our website today to get started.