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Key Differences Between Inpatient and
Outpatient Rehab Programs

stop drugs

Treating an addiction may not always be a long process, but it’s definitely a complex one that requires professional guidance and expert help every step of the way. Nowadays, patients can choose to treat their addiction by staying at the rehab facility, or at home, though serious discrepancies between the two exist – ones that can affect the outcome of the treatment. We shouldn’t be so bold as to state that one is inherently better than the other, as there are numerous variables to consider, and usually, it comes down to the patient and the severity of the addiction.

Heavy addictions to alcohol, drug addiction, gambling, and more, all of these vices require professional help, so no matter if you choose to check yourself into a rehab facility or treat the addiction as an outpatient, you need to enlist the help of a trained medical staff. With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the key differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab programs.

To stay indoors or to stay exposed

The first and most obvious difference between the two treatment options is where the patient stays during the rehab process. Inpatient, quite literally, means that the patient is staying in the facility. Outpatient, conversely, means that you’re staying at home, but going to scheduled daily treatments to your local rehab facility. Obviously, the two concepts are vastly different, and the place you stay will have a significant impact on the success of your treatment.

Inpatients are shielded from various vices and the allure of addictive substances, while outpatients are completely exposed. This is why inpatients, on average, have a higher treatment success rate, and a higher chance of achieving lifelong sobriety. This doesn’t mean that outpatient treatment is not effective, it simply means that you need to regulate your living and social environments heavily, and that your loved ones need to monitor your behavior throughout.

Higher vs lower success rates

It should go without saying that, by and large, inpatient treatment boasts a higher success rate. Simply put, the controlled setting paired with 24/7 professional care and emotional support creates the kind of rehab environment that positively affects the mind and the body of the patient. Using all the right treatment methods and monitoring your psychological and emotional health on a daily basis, the medical staff can tailor the treatment to your exact needs.

On the other hand, when you visit the center once a day, there is plenty of room for error, and plenty of ways you can fall right back into your old habits. Your doctors can’t follow you around all day long, and most of the time, your whereabouts will be unaccounted for. This only prolongs the treatment process and prevents the medical staff from providing the best treatment possible.

Constant or partial medical and emotional support

One of the biggest differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab is, of course, how much treatment you’re actually receiving. Yes, outpatient programs can be effective, but no one can guarantee you the same level of progress you’ll achieve with inpatient rehabilitation simply because the former doesn’t constitute non-stop medical support and the much-needed emotional guidance.

You might think that visiting your rehab doctor once a day is enough, and you might think that the emotional support you’re receiving from your loved ones will suffice, but that is rarely the case. And this is especially true for patients who are suffering from years of substance abuse. Regardless, even if you have started abusing a substance just recently, you should consult with a professional rehab team on the best treatment option for you.

Differences in treatment length

Many people don’t realize that, because of its effectiveness, inpatient treatment is also shorter. Outpatient programs can last anywhere from three months to over a year depending on the severity of the addiction and your psychological evaluation, all without guaranteed results because you’re taking the control out of the hands of the professionals.

Conversely, inpatient addiction can last as little as 28 days, and as long as six months, with much higher chances of long-term recovery. That said, it’s important for the patient to enter inpatient rehab willingly in order for the treatment to be as effective as possible. Naturally, people will lean predominantly towards outpatient treatment because they don’t want to feel confined and restrained – which is why it is imperative that you realize the that inpatient rehab is not a prison sentence, but a path to lifelong sobriety.

Treating serious vs mild addictions

Lastly, there is always the possibility that outpatient treatment might be better suited to your particular case and situation. This type of treatment is best for mild addictions, the kind you can eliminate from your life with a little help and some consistency. Anything more severe than that, and no trained professional will advise that you stay at home during the process.

Final thoughts

Treating addiction is a complex process that demands the presence of a professional medical team. The importance of your family’s involvement notwithstanding, it is imperative that you allow your doctors to guide you on this journey, whether you choose to check yourself into a rehab facility, or receive treatment as an outpatient.


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