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Making the Choice Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation

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Choosing between inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs isn’t easy, especially if you’re dealing with an addiction to alcohol or drugs. On the one hand, going to inpatient rehab allows you to fully immerse yourself in your recovery and work one-on-one with professionals who can help you overcome the hurdles around recovery while providing 24/7 support.

Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs are both valuable options for people struggling with addiction or mental health issues, but they’re not the same thing by any means. In this guide, we’ll outline the pros and cons of each type of program so that you can make an informed decision about what would be best in your particular situation.

What to consider when choosing between inpatient and outpatient

Not everyone recovering from addiction needs to attend an inpatient rehabilitation program. But for those who do, choosing a facility can be challenging. There are many factors to consider, but here are some questions you should ask yourself before committing to either option

How long you’ve been using drugs or alcohol: The longer your substance abuse has been going on, typically, the more intensive your treatment will need to be. For example, those with years of drug use might benefit from residential care at a rehab center. However, those who have only recently begun using might find outpatient care sufficient. It all depends on how much support you need and how far along your recovery process is. If you’re just beginning to explore options, we recommend considering both inpatient and outpatient programs.

Your personal health status: If you have any chronic health conditions (such as diabetes or heart disease), it’s important that they be treated while you’re undergoing addiction treatment. Many inpatient centers offer 24-hour medical care, whereas outpatient facilities may not have such resources available.

Considerations for an inpatient program

For those who have been using drugs or alcohol for a long time or have an addiction that requires around-the-clock care and monitoring—such as when a patient is withdrawing from alcohol—an inpatient program might be a better fit. For example, if you’re suffering from severe insomnia or anxiety due to withdrawal symptoms, an inpatient program can help ease these symptoms so you can focus on recovery without worrying about how you’ll get through another day. Additionally, many people find it easier to make changes in the company of others going through similar experiences. Being surrounded by peers also means more support, and many rehab programs are located in beautiful locations.

Considerations for an outpatient program

If you’re not ready to stay in a sober living environment, outpatient treatment can provide an alternative. People who choose outpatient programs may meet with counselors at a private practice or health facility on a daily basis while attending support groups as often as possible. This option provides flexibility that fits well into work schedules or other responsibilities, though it tends to be less intensive than traditional inpatient rehab. Because of these limitations, many people eventually opt for an inpatient program. For those struggling with serious substance abuse issues or who have co-occurring mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety disorders, residential care is likely to be more effective and safer than recovering on your own. With 24/7 supervision and support from medical professionals (such as therapists), you’ll get plenty of attention if you need help coping with withdrawal symptoms or managing emotional stressors.

Things to consider when making a decision

The ideal stay for inpatient rehabilitation is typically 21 days, but it can go as low as 10. If you’re dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues, an intensive program of 90 days may be recommended. It’s also important to consider what type of support system you have outside of rehab. If you live alone and have few friends and family members to support you during recovery, staying at a residential facility might be best.

How long will you need to be in rehab? Will an outpatient program be enough, or will you require more intensive treatment? Is cost a factor in your decision-making process? You must ask yourself these questions before deciding which is best for you.

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.


About the Author: Boris Dzhingarov is a Digital Nomad traveling the world. He is the founder of ESBO ltd and writes content on behalf of Health Bound physiotherapy clinic Hamilton.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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