Inpatient and Outpatient Therapy – Stage 2

Inpatient-rehab-facilityThere are two main treatment options for rehabilitative therapy for drug addicts – inpatient and outpatient therapies. While they may use different approaches and philosophies to healing, most drug addiction programs do have certain things in common.

Since every addict is different, no one approach will be the right fit for everyone. Choosing the correct option for your unique situation is important, however, because it could mean the difference between getting clean and suffering from a relapse after your therapy is complete.

If your or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or an addiction, then learning more about your rehabilitation options will help you make the right decision for your situation.

Outpatient vs Inpatient Facilities

When getting treatment for addiction, there are both inpatient hospitals, and outpatient counseling. Each is beneficial for certain groups of people. Inpatient rehabilitation centers are more thorough and intensive than outpatient facilities, and they allow for fewer chances for relapse during the trying early weeks of therapy. It is generally highly recommended that anyone who has a dual diagnosis (an addiction as well as a mood disorder) or a longstanding addiction go with an inpatient program.

That said, outpatient programs are suitable for certain individuals who cannot otherwise attend an inpatient facility. There are instances where an inpatient program isn’t possible. Factors that may prevent someone from attending an inpatient program may include:

Childcare duties – Parents with young children at home and no additional parents or childcare options may find that an outpatient counseling situation is their only option for a while.

Elderly parent care – Those who have elderly parents who rely on them may also have to return home at the end of the day to resume their duties

Insurance issues – In some cases, patients may not be able to get insurance coverage for an inpatient facility. While costs are generally covered for those who have a real need, inpatient rehabilitation centers are not always affordable for those who have no or limited coverage.

Lack of availability – Rehabilitation facilities are available in most areas, but some smaller or rural areas may have limited availability for treatment. Some may not be able to travel to the nearest facility due to time restraints or limited funds.

In most every case, however, inpatient facilities are the better option for those who have an addiction. Those who are casual or social users, or those who have only recently acquired a dependence may do well in an outpatient facility, but this can pose a risk.

What are the drawbacks of outpatient treatment programs?

The drawbacks of outpatient treatment programs include:

  • Distractions – work obligations, childcare duties, family stress, etc.
  • Temptations – Access to drugs or alcohol when cravings hit
  • No medical supervision – No medical management for withdrawal symptoms

What is Outpatient Care?

Outpatient care means that the person receives counseling and other therapies during the day, usually at set appointments, and then leaves to go home after their sessions. Outpatient care may also include support groups with one’s peers. While patients do receive professional care in an outpatient situation, there are some drawbacks to using this process vs an inpatient facility.

  • Distractions – It’s best if patients have no distractions during rehabilitation. That means no contact with family or friend who may stress them out, no work obligations, and no childcare duties. Their full focus should be on getting better, but this isn’t possible with outpatient counseling.
  • Temptations – When in an inpatient facility, patients have no option but to stay clean. There is no access to drugs or alcohol, so there is no temptation to use. Cravings may hit, but they cannot give in. If a patient returns home after counseling each day, he will have access to drugs or alcohol, and relapse is more likely until the patient becomes strong enough to resist.
  • No medical supervision – When coming off certain drugs, withdrawal symptoms are very common. Sometimes they are uncomfortable or painful, but other times they can even be life-threatening. Patients should not detox without medical intervention and supervision when needed, but this isn’t generally possible in the patient’s home. This is better achieved through an inpatient rehab.

How effective are outpatient addiction treatments?

Outpatient addiction treatment is effective, but not as effective as the inpatient treatment. In outpatient programs, addicts can go home after receiving counseling sessions and other therapies during the day. Because addicts are not admitted to a facility, the risk of being exposed to triggers is high..

What is Inpatient Rehabilitation?

How does inpatient rehabilitation work?

Inpatient rehabilitation is a treatment program for addicts carried out in an inpatient facility. Addicts stay in the facility and receive intensive counseling and professional medical help. This treatment keeps addicts from distractions and triggers, so they can focus solely on the healing process.

Patients still receive counseling and peer support in an inpatient facility, but they do not go home at the end of the day. They typically receive much more thorough and intensive counseling, because they do not leave, and have access to medical and mental health professionals at all times.

They also have fewer distractions. During the first days or weeks of treatment, patients are usually restricted from seeing friends and family. This isn’t to cause isolation or loneliness, but to ensure the patient can focus entirely on getting better and working on himself during that time.

When friends and family are brought back in, they are often given counseling alongside the addict so any issues related to the addiction can be discussed and overcome before the patient returns home.

Additionally, because they are in a private facility with no access to the outside, patients are not able to take drugs unless administered by medical professionals. This makes relapse during rehabilitation much less likely, if not impossible. Detoxification is also medically supervised to ensure that patients get the attention and help they need to prevent deadly side-effects.

How is Rehabilitation Paid For?

Many times, insurance providers, Medicare, or Medicaid programs can help cover the cost of rehabilitation. For those who do not have medical coverage, payment arrangements may be optional. Availability will depend on the hospital. If none of these are options, state hospitals are often available to take patients who cannot afford a private facility or who do not have medical coverage. However, state hospitals are often overcrowded and care may be compromised. If available, a private rehabilitative hospital is a better option.

Getting Started

Admission will be different for every facility. You or your loved one may need a referral from your family doctor, an addiction specialist, or admitting physician at a hospital, or a mental health professional. Call the hospital you wish to attend to discuss admission guidelines, or contact us to find the right hospital for your unique situation.


  1. Hello, Thank you for accepting my question? My son’s insurance pays for 30 days in-patient treatment. Where can he go after that if he needs additional time, and can he get help with paying after insurance runs out on that admission?

  2. I am looking for outpatient Therapy 1-2 days per week that is income based and private sessions only, nothing that reports back to my probation officer. I’m in the lake of the Ozarks area and am willing to drive up to a 50 mile radius if anything like this is available. I have to hold down a job as well. Please contact me back at your earliest convenience.

  3. hi, my 26 year old granddaughter just moved to Lynn Ma, and i wanted to help her find counseling. she stopped using and after detox she moved to Lynn, i want to give her phone numbers where she can get help. she may need employment or help with food etc , she has no guidance that i know of, i am only in touch through text so is there a list of numbers i may give her for help ?

  4. hi im Cornell im hiv positive and im using meth and now and now injecting it i need some help and guidance in my life

  5. I need help getting sober and participating in therapy I have a 1 year old babygirl. Who is temporary in mymothers care for the mean time while I try to get treatment/back to better health and get stable,show I can stand on my own 2 feet

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