Where to Find Help: Outpatient vs. Inpatient Programs

The terms “inpatient” and “outpatient” aren’t unique to the field of addiction. In fact, these are terms that could be applied to almost every single type of medical or mental health intervention a person could get, and they have a deep impact on the overall cost and treatment outcome of someone who needs care. Experts like those at Medicare encourage all health care consumers to understand the difference between inpatient and outpatient care, so they’ll know what charges they’re responsible for and can make good decisions about their health. But when it comes to addiction care, the choices can be a little confusing. In fact, it might be difficult for families in need to really understand what differentiates one type of care from another, and they may be equally unsure about which type of care is best for the person with the addiction. This article might help to clear up that confusion.

Pros and Cons

Research from the journal Addiction suggests that comparative studies about the effectiveness of one form of treatment over another aren’t really helpful, as many studies use different criteria in order to determine intrinsic value. In addition, each person with an addiction might be slightly different than his/her peers and might need slightly different therapy types as a result. Comparing very different people to one another in terms of lasting sobriety might not provide the sort of information that anyone could benefit from. However, there are some easy-to-understand pros and cons of each type of treatment that might make the selection process a little easier.For example, news reports suggest that some people have been forced to wait weeks or even months for openings in certain local outpatient addiction treatment centers. If a person with an addiction lives in a community in which drug use is rampant, and there are few clinics to handle the treatment demand, that could translate into long delays between the person’s acceptance of the need for care and the beginning of that care. For people

like this, enrolling in an inpatient program in another location could allow them to get care with no delay at all. That could be tremendously helpful for some.Outpatient programs do tend to be less expensive than their inpatient counterparts, however, and the ability of an addicted person to continue to work could push the cost yet lower. That might mean that some families are forced to go with outpatient care, as they can’t afford types of care that would impede the family’s budget yet more.

The social aspect of care could also be a factor for some people. Those with many drug-using connections may find that stepping away from the community allows them to make new friends who can function as sober role models, outlining how a truly sober life can be. However, those with tight family connections might find that leaving their social supports behind is much too difficult, and it might even be harmful. For people like this, staying at home and learning on the fly is vital.

How to Make a Selection

It’s clear that there are a number of different factors to take into account, when choosing a treatment program, and some people might find it difficult to make a choice when there are so many factors to consider. In general, it’s best to let an expert help the family to decide on the proper treatment placement. Psychiatrists, counselors and interventionists can assess the severity of the addiction and the person’s willingness to get better, and they can make detailed recommendations about which method of care would be just right for the person in need.

Just as someone with a medical problem isn’t required to decide whether to have a surgery on an inpatient or an outpatient basis, someone with an addiction isn’t required to know whether to cut drugs out of life via inpatient or outpatient programs. An expert can help with that.

If you’re struggling with this decision, please know that you’re not alone. In fact, we’d like to help. Please call us, and our admissions coordinators can connect you with a Foundations Recovery Network treatment program that can help you to understand your options and make an informed choice concerning care. The calls are free and confidential, and we’re always here to help. Please call, and we’ll tell you more.


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