The Differences Between Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment

You may be thinking about rehab treatment for yourself or a loved one. One of the first questions may be what is the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment? The following is a guide to the general differences between inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Inpatient Treatment Programs

Inpatient or residential treatment is an intensive program for the treatment of drug or alcohol dependency. It requires the individual to live full-time at the treatment facility, typically for 30-90 days, but can be longer depending on the severity of the addiction or other underlying conditions. Residential treatment is a good choice for someone who has previously been unsuccessful in overcoming his or her addiction or has relapsed, or someone who is unable to stop using, because the physical and/or mental addiction is so strong.

Residential treatment is also a better option for those who require a medical detoxification due to the powerful physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms associated with some addictions, requiring the oversight of medical professionals. If the patient has a co-occurring mental disorder, other addiction, or additional health issues, he or she is also likely best managed in an inpatient facility.

An inpatient facility provides a highly structured environment, which includes regular group meetings, counseling, therapy, mealtimes, and other activities. A patient will find substantial support by living in a therapeutic community with other residents facing the same struggles. Residential treatment provides a healthy environment, mostly free from outside distractions that otherwise could prevent the patient from focusing on his or her total well-being, including physical and spiritual health in addition to addiction recovery.

Inpatient programs tend to have a higher rate of success due to being isolated in a safe and secure environment away from temptations and triggers that led to addiction in the first place. In this way, the patient gets to practice sobriety and become accustomed to abstinence without the negative distracting influences that kept him or her in addiction before he or she goes back to the stressors of everyday life.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

Outpatient treatment is ideal for the individual who has obligations like work, school, or family that prevent him or her from taking  substantial time off and away from such responsibilities. Some people also prefer privacy and anonymity with regards to their addiction and do not wish to explain a prolonged absence to an employer or others.

An outpatient facility allows you to attend to your obligations while simultaneously focusing on treatment either during the day or in the evening. It provides individual and group counseling as well, often with a heavy emphasis on attendance in a 12-step program. Peer recovery and support is also a significant component due to the limited safeguards and the availability of some of the same triggers and temptations that may be available by remaining in the community.

Other benefits of outpatient treatment include the availability of supportive family and friends and the opportunity to immediately apply strategies for abstinence learned in rehab to one’s daily life. Outpatient treatment may also cost less due there being no expense required for room and board.

Special care must be taken with outpatient treatment to prevent relapse, however. If the patient is in an environment in which he or she is exposed to drugs or alcohol, the individual will be at a much higher risk of relapse.

Outpatient treatment is also often used as the step down from inpatient treatment. This allows for slow integration back into normal life, rather than just jumping in. It has been found that approaching treatment with a step down model tend to lead to greater success for long term recovery.

Which is best for you?

If you want to know more specifically what the differences are in programs at a particular facility, call to get more details. A qualified professional can arrange an assessment to determine the best course of treatment for you or your loved one.

How to Deal with your Emotions Sober

Many drugs are abused because they alter feelings and emotions. For example, opioids, such as Vicodin, cause euphoria and diminish anxiety and stress. CNS depressants, such as Valium, cause relaxation and drowsiness, while stimulants, such as Ritalin, produce increased energy and concentration. For these reasons, it’s easy to see why they are so often abused.


Learning to Deal with your Emotions Sober

Deal with your Emotions SoberSobriety presents a number of challenges, but often one of the biggest hurdles the newly sober person faces is learning how to manage what feels like an assault of unfamiliar emotions. In truth, you felt these emotions before you took drugs, but the drugs.the drugs blunted them. Now you may feel overwhelmed. Indeed, many experts believe the inability to handle difficult emotions are what lead many down the rocky path of addiction in the first place.

According to, early sobriety is often described as being on an emotional rollercoaster ride. This refers to the way people can experience extreme highs and lows from one day to the next — sometimes even one hour to the next. The good news is that these emotional swings will begin to settle down after a few months. However, they may continue to pose a challenge for years.

You will relearn how to manage your emotions sober and you will genuinely feel your true feelings, perhaps for the first time in years. However, a failure to understand what is happening at this critical stage could jeopardize your sobriety. Let’s examine what is going on and what you can do about it.

Focus on Your Health

Be sure to see your doctor regularly for check-ups. Pay close attention to your diet and exercise. According to Addiction Professional, substance abuse and poor nutrition often go hand-in-hand, with one issue exacerbating the other. These nutrient imbalances often can make cravings for alcohol and drugs intensify. They can also worsen depression and anxiety, especially in the early days. The magazine recommends a whole food diet and supplements. Read more about how to nourish your sober, albeit depleted, body here.

Find Support

Whether you attend 12-step meetings, or any of the other secular support groups (such as SMART, LifeRing), it’s critical to make a commitment to regular meetings. Peer support will help you manage and understand the flood of often overwhelming emotions you are suddenly experiencing. Therapy is another excellent choice and an adjunct to group support. And while you don’t want to overwhelm family and friends, do reach out and try to discuss their lives and concerns (for a change!). Plan sober, healthy activities you can do together, such as seeing a movie or going for a walk.

Start an Exercise Routine

Even if you can only drag yourself around the block, exercise remains one of the best ways to kickstart those “feel good” endorphins. Such endorphins increase a sense of calm and help with sleep, which is especially critical in the early days of sobriety. Why not try yoga? What was your favorite sport as a kid? Why not hop on a bike again, or pull out your old skateboard?

Creative Relaxation

Listening to music or watching YouTube videos can be relaxing and distract you during times of heightened emotion. Coloring books for adults are the new rage. Such creative expression is a great outlet for your angst, and it is fun, too!