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What is the Difference between Inpatient and Outpatient Drug Treatment?

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Posted: September 11, 2015

When deciding to attend a treatment program for the use of drugs or alcohol, many people ask themselves do I need inpatient or outpatient treatment. This question often arises after the realization is made that outpatient treatment is typically much cheaper than inpatient treatment, but this is not always the case. The difference between outpatient and inpatient treatment is in the name itself. When entering an inpatient treatment program, the individual will live on the property allowing everyday distractions to be nonexistent. When entering an outpatient treatment program the individual continues to live at home but attends daily or weekly meetings, counseling sessions, and support groups to aide with their recovery. Inpatient drug rehab is more intensive because the client can be monitored 24/7 during their stay. While these program typically cost more, many insurance providers will help keep costs down whereas, with outpatient treatment programs, it is much harder to get money from your insurance company to help with costs.

Inpatient drug rehab programs typically last a minimum of 30 days, but can extend to much longer periods of time dependent on each individual’s needs. Research has shown that the longer one chooses to stay in an inpatient drug treatment facility, the better chance of success they have. It is also recommended that after completing an inpatient treatment program one follows up with an outpatient facility. As mentioned before, inpatient is more structured than outpatient, so it’s encouraged that outpatient treatment follows inpatient if the individual is looking for comprehensive treatment. The more help one can receive whether it be inpatient, outpatient, or sober living facilities, the better chance at relapse prevention the individual has.

Outpatient treatment may be more feasible if the individual has attended an inpatient facility before, and just needs the support that outpatient facilities can offer. An individual may also choose outpatient over inpatient, if they have a job that requires them to be there every day or cannot take the time off to recover at an inpatient facility. An outpatient treatment program is less structured and allows the recovering addict to continue to live at home and work their everyday job, but requires attendance at several meetings weekly to provide support and relapse prevention education. As mentioned above, insurance is less likely provide help with outpatient measures because they don’t consider it “medically necessary.”

In conclusion, the difference between inpatient and outpatient drug treatment facilities is their structure and price. At an inpatient facility, the client is under 24/7 care and at an outpatient facility, the client only comes in for required meetings and counseling sessions. Typically, attending an outpatient facility is more cost effective but insurance is less likely to pay out. Inpatient treatment facilities are more expensive but you will find, often times, that insurance is willing to help out with these costs. This is a big choice when deciding to attend some form of drug treatment program, so make sure to do your research. American Addiction Network is one resource that can help provide a list of different treatment programs to fit your individual needs.

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