When seeking help for someone struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD), one of the most important choices to make is whether an inpatient or outpatient treatment program is the best fit. However, those with SUD may be predisposed to underestimate or downplay the severity of the issue, and that can lead to an insistence on outpatient treatment options when an inpatient program might be warranted.
If you find yourself having to make that decision for yourself or others, here’s some information to help navigate your choices.
What’s inpatient recovery?
Inpatient recovery, as the name suggests, refers to treatment offered in a live-in facility where healthcare professionals monitor you closely and help you through the withdrawal and detox period, as well as through the early recovery phase. Inpatient recovery offers a higher level of care and monitoring for those that require more involved treatment. If a person has developed a moderate to severe SUD that harms their well-being, inpatient care is the recommended option to start them on their recovery journey.
What’s outpatient recovery?
Similarly, outpatient recovery refers to any treatment offered without a live-in facility. Patients come to their scheduled appointments to receive Medication Supported Recovery (MSR) and all other treatments. The benefit of outpatient care is that it allows the individual to live at home, continue working and keep up with their other obligations. This flexibility and convenience can be helpful for some but harmful to others.
What are the limitations of outpatient addiction treatment?
While both treatment options can be suitable choices, one has a higher level of care that the other one can’t simply match. Here are some of the limitations that outpatient programs present when compared to inpatient options:
- Outpatient programs don’t offer the same level of monitoring. For those with severe SUD, this can be difficult to manage and may lead to relapse.
- Outpatient requires a safe and welcoming living environment to complement the treatment. If that’s not the case, recovery can be that much more difficult.
- Inpatient treatment offers a stable living situation and separation from potential triggers. Having that safety net can help ease the individual back into the world.
- Outpatient care can’t address withdrawal symptoms as quickly or as expertly as a 24/7 inpatient care facility.
While both recovery plans are viable options, inpatient offers a bit more security and a higher level of care for those that want to begin their sober journey. Outpatient care can be an excellent aftercare option for those with severe SUD who have recently undergone inpatient treatment or a great starting option for those with a milder form of SUD. Regardless of the treatment plan that you or your loved one chooses, the fact that you’re getting help is the most important aspect of all.
If you’re curious about specific substance use behaviors or withdrawal symptoms that may be associated with a moderate to severe SUD, ask an intake specialist for guidance.