What’s The Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Drug Rehab?

Deciding that you need help is the first decision of many that you’ll have to make before starting a substance abuse treatment program. While choosing to get help is the most important decision, there are plenty of other things to consider when choosing the right treatment program for you. 

Your budget, your schedule, the severity of your addiction, and the amount of support are all things to consider when choosing between inpatient and outpatient drug rehab.

In this article, you’ll learn what to expect from each type of program. We’ll cover the benefits of each program, the daily schedule, and how to prepare for treatment. 

We hope this guide will help simplify your choice during this challenging time. If you ever feel overwhelmed, just remember—with a little help, you’ll be on your way to recovery in no time! 

Determining Your Access to Outpatient or Inpatient Addiction Treatment

We encourage everyone seeking treatment to choose the program that’s right for them. However, a few things may be out of your control. These factors could impact whether you end up in inpatient or outpatient drug rehab. 

The first is your physical condition and the severity of your addiction. If you have pre-existing medical conditions or suffer from a severe addiction, inpatient rehab is the better choice. Inpatient treatment provides round-the-clock medical supervision, meaning you’ll get the safest, most comprehensive care possible. 

Your insurance plan may also influence your decision. Some carriers may deny coverage for inpatient care, even with a doctor’s recommendation. If that’s the case, you face the choice between paying higher out-of-pocket costs or entering an outpatient program. 

For reference, 30-day inpatient programs cost between $400 and $900 per day, or $14,000 to $27,000 total. Sixty-day inpatient programs cost between $300 and $800 per day, or $24,000 to $45,000 total. Ninety-day inpatient programs cost between $200 and $700 per day, or $33,000 to $58,000 total. Intensive outpatient programs cost between $100 and $500 per session.

A third factor to consider is your schedule. If you have a demanding job or have childcare duties, inpatient care may not be possible. Outpatient care, on the other hand, will give you access to many of the same services, but with more flexibility. 

When choosing which program is right for you, you’ll need to weigh each of these factors to help you make your decision. 

Keep reading for a more detailed description of each treatment type.

Inpatient Treatment

Also known as residential treatment, inpatient treatment requires patients to check themselves into a controlled environment in order to overcome their addictions. Patients stay at the clinic full-time and have access to 24-hour medical and emotional support. 

Who benefits most from inpatient treatment?

As mentioned previously, choosing between inpatient and outpatient drug rehab is ultimately a personal choice. That being said, some people will benefit more from inpatient treatment. 

Inpatient treatment (especially inpatient detoxification) is especially important if you’re addicted to drugs like synthetic opiates, benzodiazepines, alcohol, or heroin. These drugs have been linked to lethal withdrawals. In cases like these, having 24-hour access to medical support can mean the difference between relapse and recovery.

This kind of treatment may also be useful if you have a long-standing addiction, have relapsed after previous rehabilitation attempts (whether inpatient or outpatient), are addicted to multiple substances, or have a dual diagnosis.

Daily life in inpatient treatment

During inpatient treatment, patients are able to focus completely on getting sober without the distractions of daily life. A typical day in residential treatment is carefully scheduled and most hours are accounted for.

Treatment is highly structured and focuses on all aspects of addiction. This could include social factors like relationships and lifestyle, as well as psychological factors related to your personal history and situation.

Inpatient programs often include:

  • Medically supervised detoxification to lessen cravings and withdrawals
  • Administration of medications
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Additional courses like life skills training, yoga, meditation, or art therapy 

Although round-the-clock care is available, most inpatient treatment centers aren’t clinical or hospital-like at all. In fact, many offer apartments to provide a home-away-from-home feel. What’s more, many of these facilities provide amenities like swimming pools, on-site laundry, and flat-screen TVs. 

Patients can contact loved ones during residential treatment. That being said, how and how often depends on each center’s policies. Some facilities may also provide counseling for the addicted person’s family.

Benefits of inpatient treatment

Inpatient drug rehab allows you to get away from your normal environment, something that’s likely rife with temptations. As a result, you can focus on your sobriety without distractions. In addition, this kind of treatment provides ongoing training and education, meaning you’ll come out equipped with the skills you need to stay sober. 

This kind of treatment is typically more successful than those found in outpatient care. That being said, success depends on many factors, not just on the type of treatment you elect. 

Preparing for inpatient rehab

If you decide that inpatient rehab is right for you, it’s important to prepare before entering. While there’s no set amount of time needed to prepare, it’s important to set an entry date and have your affairs in order beforehand. 

As you’re preparing, keep in mind the length of your program. Most residential treatment programs last between 28 days and 6 months. 

Some things to think about before entering inpatient treatment include…

  • Talking to your employer 
  • Figuring out living arrangements for children or other family members
  • Planning how to get to and from the rehab center
  • Finding out which personal items you can bring

Outpatient Treatment

Compared to inpatient programs, outpatient treatment is less restrictive. Such programs usually require patients to commit 10 to 12 hours per week to the program. This means patients can continue to live at home, work, and manage daily commitments while receiving treatment. 

Read on to learn about daily life in outpatient drug rehab, the benefits of this kind of program, and how to prepare. 

Who benefits most from outpatient treatment?

Outpatient drug rehab is a good standalone option if you have a mild-to-moderate addiction. It can also be useful as part of a long-term treatment program.

Daily life in outpatient treatment

Unlike inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment doesn’t require patients to check into a center in order to start. Outpatient drug rehab can last between three months to a year or more. 

The first step of treatment is detox. During this stage—which usually lasts about a week—patients must visit a hospital or other treatment facility for physical and mental check-ups. Clinicians or doctors might administer medications on-site to alleviate withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, and increased heart rate. 

After detox is complete, patients go to a local treatment facility for sessions that focus on drug abuse education, individual and group counseling, and life skills. Outpatient treatment centers usually schedule meetings at night or in the early morning so those in the program can maintain their normal schedules.

Specific types of therapy will vary between treatment centers, however, most will have some combination of the following…

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Motivational incentives
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Multidimensional family therapy

Some programs may also recommend that clients receive additional support from Twelve-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). 

Benefits of outpatient treatment

While outpatient treatment doesn’t provide the same level of intensive, 24-hour care, it does allow you to…

  • Live at home while getting care
  • Continue working or going to school
  • Remain in close contact with friends and family
  • Learn the skills necessary to live a sober life

Outpatient care is also less demanding on your schedule than is inpatient care. Most outpatient facilities require a 10-12 hour per week commitment from patients. 

This type of rehab also has the benefit of real-world/real-time applications. Because you’re still involved in your daily activities, you’ll have the opportunity to apply the new strategies you learn immediately. 

Some may argue that having access to substances and addiction triggers may make outpatient treatment more difficult. However, it can also be said that managing real-world challenges while getting treatment makes the transition to normal life smoother. 

Preparing for outpatient rehab

Because outpatient rehab is more flexible than inpatient, there’s less to do when it comes to preparation. Still, there are some things to consider. 

First, it may be helpful to take a week off from school or work while you go through the detoxification process. Depending on the severity of your addiction, you may experience fatigue, muscle aches, anxiety, or insomnia during this period. Taking time to rest and engage in self-care can help make this challenging time more bearable.

In addition to planning for detoxification, it’s important to take a look at your weekly schedule. This will help you figure out which sessions and meetings you can attend. 

Finally, talk to your family and friends about your upcoming treatment. That could mean asking your spouse to take on more household duties or reminding your friends not to bring alcohol to your next hangout. 

Inpatient And Outpatient Rehab At La Fuente

La Fuente offers LGBTQ-affirmative inpatient and outpatient drug rehab at our Los Angeles treatment center. We have over a decade of experience developing and providing long-term treatment solutions for members of the LGBTQ community. 

Our inpatient programs include medically supervised detox, clinical therapy, 12-step meetings, and fitness and nutrition programs that range from 30 to 60 days. 

Like many outpatient programs, ours is designed to accommodate work and family life. Each client receives an individualized treatment plan, complete with group and family therapy. Individual sessions are also available. 

If you’d like to learn more about our programs, fill out the form below. A member of our staff will contact you within 24 hours to answer any questions you may have. 

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