Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehab: Which Is Best for You?

Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehab: Which Is Best for You?
Recovery March 4, 2019
Author: Ilana Jael

As you or someone you care about is facing the challenge of overcoming addiction, choosing the best environment for recovery is a key decision on the path to healing. For some, outpatient treatment offers the right level of support and, for others, a sober living facility provides a safer haven during rehab.

Alcohol and substance abuse is impacting the lives of more than 21 million Americans who are in need of addiction treatment annually. Of those, about 2.3 million will make the decision to seek the treatment they need to take control of their lives.1

Choosing to make this life change is clearly difficult. Choosing between the available treatment options doesn’t have to be so challenging. Let’s look at the differences between inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs and the powerful advantages of each in meeting the unique needs of the individual.

What Are the Differences Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab?

The primary difference between the two approaches is the level of immersion. How much structure, supervision, and medical support is right for the individual seeking treatment will determine the best possible choice.

An inpatient sober living facility offers 24/7 supervision and support in a clean and sober environment. There may be 24-hour medical staff on call and counselors available onsite to help overcome sudden cravings and manage severe drug or alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This complete separation from everyday life offers some clients the break they need to focus on recovery and achieve sobriety.

An outpatient treatment program provides support and structure in a less restrictive environment. Programs have varying levels of time commitment and intensity. For those who can maintain a sober living environment and have a strong natural support system, living at home and attending therapy, counseling, treatment sessions, and medical appointments during the day offers the ideal balance and preserves those valuable existing resources.

When Is Outpatient Rehab the Best Choice?

Outpatient programs offer distinct advantages for individuals who:

When Is Inpatient Rehab the Best Choice?

Inpatient treatment programs and sober living homes offer more structure and around the clock care, which benefits individuals who:

The Effect of Co-Occurring Conditions (Dual Diagnosis)

When substance abuse becomes entwined with a mental or physical health condition, it can be difficult to separate the symptoms of one from the other or to treat one without addressing the influences and causative relationship between the two. This is referred to as dual diagnosis or a co-occurring condition.

Some of the common mental health conditions and associated addictions include:

Due to the interwoven nature of the self-medicating addiction, separating the signs of alcoholism from the symptoms of depression, for example, may not only be difficult but ultimately counterproductive. If the symptoms of untreated PTSD or anxiety will trigger future cravings for heroin, both conditions need to be treated simultaneously to break the cycle.

Patterns of Co-Occurring Addiction

Those who are suffering from untreated mental health conditions or the effects of past trauma often turn to anything that makes them feel better in the moment. There is a pattern to this behavior:

Drugs and alcohol may supply a short-term reversal of these psychological symptoms, but, in the end, they make these conditions worse. Meanwhile, more and more of the addictive substance is needed to feel even a small amount of relief. True healing comes when the mind and body are healed as one, and the toxic experiences and chemical toxins that cause these cycles are cleansed from the body and brain simultaneously.

doctor talking to her male patient at office

Finding Relief That Lasts: How to Choose the Right Rehab Program

As your loved one or you make the life-affirming change to clean and sober living, choosing the best sober living facility or intensive outpatient treatment program in your area is vitally important to a successful recovery. Determining the best fit for your individual situation will help you complete the program successfully and prevent future relapse.

Taking the next step and reaching out with your questions, concerns, and personal history will open the doors to a wealth of resources and support almost immediately. You should consider these factors when making your choice:

What Services Do Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab Facilities Provide?

While there are many differences, the ultimate goal of both types of treatment programs is to support the individual in attaining and maintaining a sober lifestyle. Many of the same services are offered in both formats, with some slight differences.

Both require a time commitment, from 24 hours a day for inpatient to as little as 10 hours a week for outpatient programs. Inpatient treatment runs a minimum of 28 days, while both approaches often continue for 6 months and even up to a year in some cases.

Scheduling and structure are important in both formats. In an inpatient facility, the entire day is scheduled and completely focused on treatment; in an outpatient environment, the individual is responsible to keep appointments and attend sessions on their own initiative.

Medical care and monitoring are provided to help with detox. Medication may be provided to help reduce cravings or prevent relapse. Medically assisted or replacement drug therapies are more likely to be part of inpatient treatment. These medical supports address the critical withdrawal phase and help individuals reach sobriety.

Family and friends are included in counseling, and new sober support communities are built to replace the destructive relationships and associations of the past. The camaraderie, connections, and lasting relationships built during therapy encourage sobriety long into the future.

Essential life skills are taught as part of both types of treatment programs, to foster better relationships, career opportunities, and personal achievement. These tools empower individuals to focus on creating the life they want to live, free of substance abuse, self-destructive behaviors, and toxic relationships.

friends taling and having fun together in the living room

The Best of Both Worlds

Some of the best addiction treatment centers offer a seamless spectrum of inpatient, traditional, and intensive outpatient programs. With a strong focus on family relationships, evidence-based therapy, and luxurious sober living communities in Delray Beach, Florida, RECO Institute is an incredible choice for recovery.

In addition, RECO Institute partners with RECO Intensive’s innovative outpatient program to provide follow-up care and a smooth transition to the new, sober life our clients create. The connections and community you discover in our sober living facilities travel with you to become your ongoing source of strength on the path to sobriety.

To find out more about the many benefits of sober living in Delray Beach, contact us today or chat with our caring staff online. Our team will help you make the best possible rehab decision to take you to the place you really want to be.


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