Comparing Inpatient Vs Outpatient Drug Rehab

If you are looking at substance abuse rehabilitation programs for yourself or a loved one, trying to grasp the differences between options with similar terms can feel overwhelming. Keep reading for a simple breakdown of the difference between inpatient vs outpatient rehab.

Inpatient and residential rehabilitation – understanding the differences and similarities

Inpatient and residential rehabilitation sound like the same thing, but actually serve different types and severities of addiction at different levels of care. They are distinguished as follows:

Residential rehabilitation

Residential rehabilitation is oriented towards people with mild to moderate addictions who are not likely to require hospitalization. These programs tend to be longer, lasting a few months to a year. Generally residents are allowed to keep phones, computers, and other “distractions.”

Inpatient rehabilitation

Inpatient rehabilitation is designated for those with severe addictions who may require hospitalization at some point during the detox process. You can expect these programs to be more strict, discouraging, limiting, or completely banning use of phones, computers, or anything else considered a distraction.

Medical and emotional support is available 24/7 over a period of a few weeks to a few months. These programs do what they can to limit patients’ focus to their recovery.

What these programs share

Inpatient and residential rehabilitation both have:

Similar intake processes

Both inpatient and residential rehabilitation centers typically have intake structures comprised of 3 parts: Initial evaluation to assess your overall health and develop a plan; Detox is medically managed to help you overcome withdrawal safely and improve comfort; Rehabilitation services are offered through group counseling, therapy and guided activities to build community and avoid relapse.

Similar benefits

Residential and inpatient programs are good for people who have the ability or need to spend significant periods of time away from their usual environments to build healthy coping mechanisms. These programs can also benefit people who find strength in community and would benefit from group therapy. For those who have insurance, a clinic is more likely to work with insurance companies, which helps with costs that start at $500/day.

Similar disadvantages

Onsite drug rehabilitation may not work well for people unable to deviate from strict schedules, who do not enjoy group settings, or for anyone who needs especially discrete services.

Outpatient rehabilitation

Outpatient drug rehabilitation programs offer the same services found at live, onsite clinics, but you return home after therapies and activities are complete. These programs can have varying schedules, ranging from 1-2 hours a day on certain days, to something more closely resembling a part or full-time work schedule.

These programs offer many of the same benefits and disadvantages of community-based healing, but with more flexible schedules for those unable to completely disengage from their day-to-day life to receive treatment. People battling severe addiction, or addictions that require medically-guided detox, are not good candidates for outpatient rehabilitation.

Another consideration is travel time. Depending on the distance between your home and preferred clinic, the commute can be a barrier to patients fully availing themselves of resources and not relapsing.

man explaining how he feels on his detox journey, looking tired and not well

The commute can also strain an already overburdened schedule and make maintaining discretion for employment and/or personal reasons difficult to achieve.

An alternative to inpatient vs outpatient rehab: in-home addiction recovery services

If, after learning the differences between inpatient vs outpatient rehab, you want another option, there’s another way to get the help you need.

For individuals with a mild-to-moderate addiction to a substance and a withdrawal process that is unlikely to require hospitalization, you may wish to consider in-home drug rehabilitation. These services are typically provided by concierge healthcare providers.

Also known as VIP providers, these practices will administer the same quality services normally found in clinics to you in the comfort and privacy of your home. Rehabilitation plans are customized to allow you to be present day-to-day while still ensuring you move forward in your recovery. If you or your loved one would prefer individualized attention over group therapy, this discrete option may be the answer.

What are the drawbacks of in-home rehab?

As already indicated, this may not be the best option for cases of severe addiction, or in situations where withdrawal might require medical intervention that could only be facilitated at a hospital.

Some people may find it difficult to make changes while still immersed in the environments where they were using, or without a built-in community for support offered by clinics. Concierge in-home rehabilitation services also do not accept insurance, opting to invest time and money into patient care rather than excess administrative costs.

Elite Home Detox Can Bring Drug Rehabilitation Services To You

If you or a loved one suffers from substance abuse disorder and needs help, consider Elite Home Detox. We offer expert guidance through every step of the process, offering:

  • Intervention Specialists who counsel friends and family on how to confront their loved one and motivate them to accept help and stay on track after detox
  • Doctors who evaluate your situation and work with you to craft effective and practical detox treatment and ongoing recovery plans
  • Medical professionals who remain onsite 24/7 to monitor you and ensure your safety and comfort as you detox in the privacy and comfort of your own home
  • A designated Care Coordinator who can help keep you organized and on track with your recovery plan throughout each step of the process

We know you have questions, and we’re ready to help. Call or click the button below for a custom consultation today!


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