Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Treatment | What’s The Best Choice For You?

Different types of treatment are available to serve the needs of those with substance use disorder, including both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs. The type of care recommended for you depends on the severity of your condition, your resources, and your individual preferences.

Each person with substance use disorder is an individual with their own values, perspective, preferences, passions, and responsibilities. This means your specific treatment program must be personalized to fit you, your needs, and your goals for treatment to the greatest degree possible.

This personalization will likely include making an early decision between inpatient treatment hosted within a residential treatment facility, or outpatient treatment sessions provided to you in an outpatient treatment center within commuting range of your own home.

When To Choose Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient care is considered the most effective addiction treatment option for severe cases of substance use disorder, especially in which:

  • a person has been misusing drugs, alcohol, a combination of different drugs and alcohol for an extended period of time and/or in very high doses
  • a person’s substance abuse has become very unmanageable and/or harmful to their mental or physical health
  • a person has attempted to quit their substance abuse in the past unsuccessfully
  • a person has a co-occurring mental health condition

Inpatient programs vary by treatment philosophies, policies, and furnishings, with some presenting much like hospital settings and others more closely resembling a resort or spa. 

In every case, residential programs offer their participants 24-hour support and a prolonged period of highly focused treatment in a comfortable and controlled setting.

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What Inpatient Rehab Programs Are Like

Inpatient recovery programs are designed to remove a person from their normal environment and the negative habits and thought patterns that they’ve built up in that setting, replacing them with a far more regimented and recovery-focused daily routine.

Participants wake up at a scheduled time, eat a nutritious breakfast, and spend the day in both individual and group therapy sessions broken up with breaks, free time, and meals.

During this process, in most cases, participants won’t have access to smartphones or other electronic devices but can likely write letters home and even make calls to their loved ones during certain periods. 

Participants also have access to round-the-clock support if they experience severe cravings and other physical or psychological complications.

Inpatient Detox

Inpatient programs may also incorporate some form of medical detox, in which a person experiences acute withdrawal symptoms while staying in a safe and secure residential recovery center. 

This first stage of treatment involves close medical support and often the administration of certain prescription medications to manage any particularly severe physical or psychological effects of drug or alcohol withdrawal.

When To Choose Outpatient Treatment

When comparing inpatient vs. outpatient rehab, outpatient treatment stands out for the flexibility and diversity of treatment options available, the relative abundance of outpatient rehab centers available compared to inpatient rehab facilities, and a lower overall cost of treatment.

This makes outpatient programs ideal for those who either have a less-severe form of substance use disorder that does not require a residential program, as well as those who simply cannot access inpatient treatment for one reason or another. 

Outpatient care is also used as a form of step-down or continuing care for those who have already completed an inpatient program.

Outpatient treatment programs are generally divided into three different levels of care:

  • regular outpatient treatment programs, held weekly with a strong focus on counseling and peer support
  • intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), which are held on a part-time basis a few days a week
  • day treatment/partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), which are held on a full-time basis and may closely resemble the inpatient treatment experience

What Outpatient Care Is Like

Participants in outpatient treatment programs must travel to their scheduled treatment sessions on-time and then head back home afterwards. 

This means that, depending on the individual and their needs, many people are able to continue going to work, attending classes, and taking care of family members while still receiving effective and professional alcohol or drug addiction treatment.

However, PHPs are an exception to this rule. 

Unlike IOPs, which involve around 3 hours of treatment 3-5 days weekly, PHPs require a participant to attend 5-6 hours of treatment 5-6 days each week, making it challenging to continue doing work on even a part-time basis while receiving care.

Also, outpatient programs may last between 3-6 months, considerably longer than most inpatient programs, and can be extended for even longer periods of time when needed.

Outpatient Detoxification

Outpatient detox programs are also sometimes available, with low-risk participants living at home but keeping in close contact with medical professionals for updates and checkups until their withdrawal symptoms subside.

Ohio Recovery Center

If you aren’t sure what type of treatment might be best for your situation, reach out to your healthcare provider or someone else who can provide qualified medical advice. 

Or, to access leading inpatient drug and alcohol rehab services directly, please contact us here at Ohio Recovery Center. We would be happy to explain your options and help develop an effective treatment plan with you today, including outpatient programs at our sister facility.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  2. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: November 15, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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