Understanding the Appropriateness of Outpatient versus Inpatient Residential Treatment

February 1, 2015

Many addiction treatment programs now have the option for patients to receive care either in an outpatient setting or residential/impatient setting. While they both constitute addiction treatment, they have very different purposes that require a thorough evaluation by an addiction professional. The key variables that determine the appropriateness of inpatient versus outpatient treatment include:

The severity and duration of the drug abuse typically determines the intensity of the treatment program. Dependence and addiction is progressive, as the body and brain crave more and more of the drug. When we hit rock bottom, it is a point at which a great deal of time and effort is required to restore normal functions without the drugs or alcohol. Typically, those who have used substances in great quantity for a longer period time will benefit the most from inpatient treatment after a course of detoxification.

The ability for patients to function in their current environment. High functioning addicts – those that can go about their daily lives, while also being addicted to a substance, may be able to benefit from outpatient treatment which allows them to continue their usual life, but also receive the care necessary to move away from the substance of abuse. It is important to remember, however, that in conjunction with the outpatient treatment, the patient must be ready and willing to change their lifestyle. They will still be exposed to all of the temptations and threats that caused the addiction in the first place. Outpatient treatment provides a shield, not an impenetrable barrier.

Cost considerations. Because of the very nature of an inpatient setting, cost will be a factor. Indeed, outpatient treatment costs significantly less than its inpatient counterpart. This is because it does not require 24 hour supervision, housing and meals and therapy sessions are limited to a few hours each day. However, cost should be a secondary factor in the decision to receive treatment. Appropriate care is the single most important criterion for long-term sobriety. Further, there are treatment programs including Fellowship Hall that are in-network with all major insurance companies. Additionally, they may be able to assist with payment plans as well as arranging for financial assistance from third parties.

Stages of Recovery. The outpatient setting is not strictly for those who are still using drugs. Those who previously completed a treatment program can also benefit from outpatient therapy to reinforce the relapse prevention techniques learned during their previous treatment.

Ultimately, both inpatient and outpatient treatment services will always be more effective than a patient trying to recover from addiction on one’s own. During the admissions process, a thorough evaluation will be performed by a qualified treatment provider. This evaluation will shed light on the best level of care for a patient’s particular circumstance. The first step is a confidential call to Fellowship Hall to learn more and discuss options with one of our admissions specialists.