Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehabs

Recovering from drug or alcohol addiction can feel overwhelming. Whether you're seeking help for yourself or a loved one, the most important thing to know is that everything you need is available. You are not alone. There's a lot of support when it comes to substance abuse treatment; it's just a matter of finding it.

One of the first major decisions to make is whether to go to an inpatient rehab center or outpatient treatment facility. Choosing the right program is key to successful recovery.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

What's the difference between inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities?

The biggest difference is that with inpatient programs, patients live on site. All needs are taken care of, including food, housing, and treatment, which leaves patients free to focus solely on recovery. With outpatient programs, patients live on their own and come in for treatment.

Inpatient Rehab Centers

Patients who go to inpatient rehab centers are usually admitted to a hospital first, where they receive urgent care that can last from 3 days to 2 weeks.

They are often then enrolled into an inpatient drug rehab program, which typically lasts 28 days, or just under a month. For more serious cases, substance abuse treatment programs tend to be provided in 3-month increments. And while many patients come through the hospital first, some simply choose to enroll in inpatient rehab programs.

Inpatient centers offer full-service residence and their cost includes lodging, meals, and treatment. A standard 28-day inpatient rehab program is $10,000 to $20,000 a month. Lower-cost rehab options are around $7,500 a month, and luxury programs can cost upwards of $50,000 a month. Depending on the situation, insurance plans can help significantly with the cost of inpatient recovery programs.

Outpatient Rehab Centers

Patients treated in outpatient rehab centers are only required to be at the facility when there is a session. They take care of their own housing and simply commute to the rehab center for treatment.

Those in outpatient treatment programs are often required to attend daily addiction recovery checkups and sessions. However, since many who elect to go to outpatient facilities have responsibilities like work or school, sessions and checkups are often scheduled around their daily routines.

Outpatient substance abuse treatment programs typically last from 2 to 4 months, with an initial commitment of 6 hours per week. The cost of outpatient treatment varies widely, and depends heavily on the type, duration and intensity of services the patient needs. An average 8-10 week treatment program costs $2,000.

Choosing the right type of treatment

There are no conclusive studies that show that inpatient rehab programs are better than outpatient, or vice versa - it's really about what's best for the individual. For example, patients who lack a strong support system and are easily exposed to the same environments that contributed to their substance abuse, are often advised to enter inpatient facilities. Total separation from the people, places, and circumstances that led to addiction can be instrumental in the recovery process.

On the other hand, those with more stable circumstances and solid support systems may be better off going to an outpatient rehab center. It's less of a departure from everyday life, which is sometimes a good thing - for example, the person can stay in school or at work. Outpatient rehab programs are also almost always the lower-cost option.

It's best to work with a counseling professional to determine which type of treatment program is best. Counselors can help assess key factors, such as the patient's ability to commit to a program, what should be included in a program for that person, and how best to prepare.

Both inpatient and outpatient rehab centers exist specifically to help patients make tremendous strides, giving them what they need to turn their lives around. Understanding and choosing the right program is one of the first steps toward a life free of addiction and full of hope, independence, and dignity.

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