Inpatient versus outpatient therapy: Choosing a therapy that’s best for you
Once a person decides to seek treatment they may question what kind of treatment they need. Does every drug addict need to spend time in a rehabilitation facility or is it possible to get help without leaving the neighborhood?
Both inpatient and outpatient therapies are vital tools for people with a serious addiction though there are advantages and disadvantages for both forms of treatment.
Inpatient facilities are designed to house patients for the first several months of their recovery. People who choose to receive inpatient treatment are provided with daily therapy as well as round-the-clock care. Patients in inpatient therapy receive considerably more supervision than people in outpatient therapy, making this form of treatment ideal for people with severe addictions. There are several advantages to inpatient treatment including:
- Medical care: Patients who receive inpatient treatment are surrounded by a team of clinicians who have been trained to make their recovery as pleasant as possible. This is especially important during patients’ first days of sobriety, since they are often struggling with withdrawal symptoms. Regardless of symptom severity, clinicians do what they can to ease the detoxification process and make withdrawal more bearable for the patient.
- No distractions: During inpatient treatment, patients live full-time at the rehabilitation facility which removes them from the people and places associated with their past drug use. It also removes them from the stresses of everyday life that might encourage them to use again. This allows patients to focus on shifting both their attitudes and behavior about their drug use.
- More intensive: Inpatient therapy is considerably more intensive than outpatient therapy. In inpatient therapy, patients receive some form of therapy every day. Because therapy is considerably more intensive, patients with severe addiction or co-occurring conditions would benefit tremendously from inpatient therapy.
As previously mentioned there there are disadvantages to inpatient therapy too. These include:
- Price: Inpatient therapy is more expensive because it includes room and board, whereas patients in outpatient therapy continue to live at their own home and cook their own meals.
- Isolation: People in inpatient therapy cannot interact with their family and friends as regularly as before and, while this isolation can be good for some addicts, it can be difficult for other addicts. In addition, addicts in inpatient therapy are not exposed to the real world which may cause them to feel overwhelmed by stressors, such as work, which were not present during their stay in rehab.
- Inconvenience: People who attend inpatient therapy might need to take time off of work or even quit their job. If they have children, they will need to find someone else who can care for them while they are in treatment.
Outpatient treatment involves the same therapies as inpatient treatment, only the patient returns home after each session. Outpatient treatment is ideal for someone who prefers independence or doesn’t have the time or money to attend inpatient therapy. The advantages of outpatient treatment include:
- More freedom: People who attend outpatient treatment have considerably more freedom than people who attend inpatient therapy. Someone in outpatient therapy might only have one therapy session a day and will have better access to their family and friends.
- Convenience: People who attend outpatient therapy typically do not need to take time off of work. They can continue to care for their own children and might be able to carry on the same daily activities as they did before treatment.
- Price: People in outpatient treatment receive the same therapies as people in inpatient treatment, but do not need to pay for room and board making outpatient treatment is substantially less expensive than inpatient treatment.
In contrast, the disadvantage of outpatient treatment include:
- Easier to relapse: People in outpatient treatment are far more likely to relapse because their drug access is not restricted. This makes outpatient therapy less than ideal for people with severe addiction.
- Less intensive: Outpatient treatments are less intensive than inpatient treatments. Depending on the kind of addiction, outpatient treatments can happen as infrequently as twice a month. For individuals with a severe addiction or a co-occurring condition, outpatient treatment might not be able to give them what they need to get better.
How does a patient choose?
Given this information, how do patients know whether outpatient or inpatient treatment would be best for them? After weighing the advantages and disadvantages, they might wish to speak with a doctor about their options. They might also wish to compare treatment schedules to their current schedule.
In the end, both outpatient and inpatient treatment are valuable ways for a person to pursue sobriety. Addiction is an illness and, like other illnesses, it cannot simply be wished away. Pursuing treatment is always in the patient’s best interests.
Written by Courtney Lopresti, Sovereign Health Group writer