Alcohol, drug, and behavioral addictions can cause serious distress in people’s lives and the lives of their family and friends. While addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease, it is also a treatable one. Drug and alcohol treatment plays a crucial role in addiction recovery, and inpatient and residential treatment centers are a popular option for those seeking sobriety after battles with alcoholism and drug addiction.
Find Treatment that Fits Your NeedsDiversity of patient populations has brought about the addition of many specialty treatment programs. Substance abuse treatment programs may not be equipped to meet the needs of certain populations, so specialty care may be required to meet individual needs. Read More
What’s the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment?
People ready to attend drug and alcohol rehab may wonder what the key differences are between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. While both forms of treatment offer similar therapies and have the same end goal (sobriety), there are several differences between the two, such as:1,2
- Where the patient lives during treatment: Patients who choose inpatient and residential treatment programs reside in the facility 24/7. Those who choose outpatient treatment continue to reside at home and attend treatment on a part-time basis during the week.
- Duration of the program: The length of drug and alcohol treatment sometimes varies between inpatient and outpatient programs and even within each modality. Inpatient treatment may be short-term (around 3–6 weeks) or long-term (60–90 days). Still other long-term residential treatment centers have patients stay between 6 months and a year.1 The duration of outpatient treatment may depend on the severity of the addiction and the types of treatment needed. Because outpatient treatment is part-time and typically only scheduled for a few hours each week, it may take longer to complete treatment than at a short-term inpatient facility.
- Intensity of the program and levels of addiction severity addressed: Inpatient programs are typically more intensive and designed to treat severe addictions. Residential treatment programs may be best suited for those who need to focus exclusively on recovery without the stressors and triggers of the outside world. Outpatient treatment is usually appropriate for less-severe addictions or may be a step-down for those who have graduated from inpatient drug and alcohol rehab and who wish to continue with treatment.
- How often patients engage in therapy/groups/treatment each day/week: Patients attending inpatient and residential treatment centers typically spend more time each day engaged in individual and group therapy than those in outpatient treatment programs. Inpatient treatment has ongoing daily therapeutic activities, whereas outpatient treatment may only have therapy or groups a few times a week.
- Supplemental therapies and services offered: Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs usually offer different supplemental therapies and comprehensive services than outpatient rehab centers. This may include holistic therapies, massage and spa treatments, recreation centers, luxury rooms, gourmet meals, employment training, and other support services.
- Cost of treatment: One of the greatest differences between inpatient rehab and outpatient treatment programs is the cost. Outpatient rehab programs are the most cost-effective form of professional drug and alcohol treatment. These treatment centers offer outpatient individual counseling and support groups, but many do not provide any medication-maintenance services. Inpatient programs are far more expensive than outpatient programs, but the total cost ultimately depends on the length of stay.
- Insurance coverage: Insurance coverage may vary between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Some insurance companies choose to only cover outpatient behavioral treatment programs, whereas others may have different coverage benefits for inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities.
What Services Does Inpatient Treatment Offer?
Inpatient programs typically take place in residential treatment centers or hospitals. Most programs are 30, 60, or 90 days in length, but may last longer if needed. Many inpatient behavioral treatment centers provide dual diagnosis services, meaning that they can treat mental health issues—anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, etc.—in addition to your substance abuse disorder.
The treatment process at inpatient rehab facilities normally consists of:
- Detox: Most treatment centers have medically supervised detox programs to help you safely and comfortably get through the withdrawal period before starting the next phase of your treatment.
- Assessment and development of individualized treatment plan and goals: As the detox period reaches an end, addiction treatment professionals work one-on-one with you to complete an assessment and develop a treatment plan specific to your unique needs.
- Individual and group therapy: Individual and group therapy is offered regularly at inpatient treatment centers to help you uncover the motivations behind your drug addictions, as well as to learn new coping skills for dealing with cravings and triggers to use drugs.
- 12-step meetings: Residential treatment centers often provide 12-step group meetings on-site for you or take you off campus to community meetings.
- Aftercare planning: Prior to the completion of treatment, staff members help you develop an aftercare plan to shore up your support around relapse prevention and strengthen your ability to maintain sobriety outside of treatment. A solid aftercare plan may include:
- Ongoing counseling.
- Regular attendance at 12-step meetings.
- Additional treatment at transitional facilities.
- Development of new hobbies to replace drug addiction.
- A detailed plan of strategies to prevent relapse when cravings arise.
- Discharge: Once the aftercare and relapse prevention plans are in place, you can be discharged from treatment. It is important that you follow up with aftercare treatment to increase your odds of maintaining long-term sobriety and prevent relapse.
Depending on the drug and alcohol treatment center you attend, different therapies and counseling methods may be offered. Commonly used therapies include:
- Family therapy: Because addiction affects the entire family, family therapy can be an important component of addiction treatment and recovery. It allows a family to address their unique dynamics and learn how they contribute to and are impacted by your drug use.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT addresses the connection between thoughts and behaviors and how they both lead to your motivations to use drugs. By understanding your negative thought patterns and their consequences, you can choose healthier thoughts that lead to healthier behaviors.
- Motivational interviewing (MI): MI helps you move from ambivalence about your drug use toward motivation to take action and make positive decisions related to sobriety. MI places the responsibility and power on you to make the decision to change.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT is commonly used as a treatment for borderline personality disorder, but it is effective at treating drug and alcohol addiction as well. DBT helps you learn to regulate your emotions and deal more effectively with drug cravings.
- Equine therapy: Some inpatient treatment centers may provide equine therapy, which consists of interacting with horses to promote emotional wellbeing and to encourage healthier interpersonal connections.
Each inpatient treatment program is different in its approach and the services it provides. There are many specialty inpatient programs available that are geared toward certain populations and preferences, such as:
- Luxury: Luxury drug and alcohol rehabs provide exclusive luxury amenities and services to patients. These centers are usually much more expensive than traditional treatment centers. Some luxury services that may be offered include:
- Private rooms.
- Gourmet meals.
- Massage and spa treatments.
- Scenic views.
- Recreational activities.
- Executive: Executive rehab programs are offered for top executives and other business professionals. These treatment centers are designed to meet the unique needs of professionals by allowing them to continue participating in their work duties during treatment.
- Teen-specific: Teen-specific residential centers provide addiction treatment programs catered to teenagers struggling with addiction and the unique needs they face. Most teen inpatient treatment centers will provide academic support so that teenagers can continue with schooling during treatment and not get behind on their studies.
- Gender-specific: Some centers may choose to offer treatment to males only, while others provide services just for females. Separating males and females for addiction treatment can help prevent distraction and allow patients to better focus on their recovery.
- Faith-based: Faith-based drug and alcohol rehabs operate under the central philosophy, beliefs, and values of their specific faith. For many people, putting faith in a higher power is often a key component of their addiction recovery. There are addiction treatment centers available for many different faiths, such as Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, and Mormonism.
How to Choose a Program
Once you’ve decided to seek addiction treatment, the next step is to choose the right program for you. Some of the factors to consider when choosing a treatment center include:
- Location and associated costs: Residential treatment costs more in some locations than others. For example, a treatment center located on an island or remotely in the mountains may be more expensive than one in the center of a city.
- Overall cost and how you will pay: Questions to contemplate include:
- Does the treatment center accept my insurance?
- Does it have sliding-scale rates?
- Does it offer payment plans?
- Is this my most cost-effective treatment option? If not, is the added cost proportionate to the added benefits?
- Treatment approach: There are a variety of different treatment approaches at inpatient drug and alcohol rehabs, including the 12-step model, evidence-based theories, or a faith-based philosophy.
- Experience and personalities of the staff: A well-rounded staff should include physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, nurses, peer support specialists, and nutritionists. You may also consider touring the treatment facility to see how well you resonate with the personalities of the staff members who will provide your treatment.
- Amenities: Each treatment center offers its own amenities and services, so if you are looking for specific amenities—such as specialized meal options, private rooms, holistic therapies, or recreational facilities—make sure that the treatment center you choose offers them.
- Ability to treat mental health issues concurrently: Most rehab centers offer dual diagnosis treatment, meaning they can treat mental health issues alongside a substance abuse disorder. If you think that you or your loved one may have a mental health disorder, then make sure your treatment center can appropriately address both conditions.
- Aftercare or alumni programs: Many centers have aftercare programs in place for patients to attend following treatment, which can significantly reduce the probability of relapse. It is also a common practice for programs to stay in touch with their alumni, and sometimes organize events where you can reconnect and provide ongoing support.
- Online reviews: Always do your research on treatment facilities and read online reviews from other patients so you can get a better idea of the quality of care you will receive from those who have had first-hand experience.
Cost and Payment
While finances should be considered when choosing a treatment program, it is important not to let the costs prevent you from seeking treatment altogether.Unfortunately, the high costs of treatment can be a barrier to care for many people who need drug and alcohol rehab. While finances should be considered when choosing a treatment program, it is important not to let the costs prevent you from seeking treatment altogether. Many factors affect the total cost of inpatient addiction treatment, including:
- Length of stay.
- Amenities provided.
- Location of the treatment center.
- Insurance coverage.
- Any extra therapies, treatments, or services you receive.
Even if you think you cannot afford addiction treatment, take time to carefully consider your unique situation and the options you may have to help you finance the costs of rehab:
- Insurance: Most insurance plans offer some form of coverage for substance use disorders. If you are insured, check with your insurance company to see what coverage options your plan provides.
- Personal savings: While it can be difficult to part with your personal savings, consider it an investment in yourself and your future.
- Payment plans: Many treatment centers offer payment plans to help people finance the cost of treatment.
- Sliding-scale rates: Some rehabs offer sliding scale rates to make addiction treatment more affordable to those with lower incomes.
- Borrowing from friends or family: It may be difficult to ask for help, but many friends and family members may be happy to help you on your journey to sobriety.
- Credit cards: If you do not have the cash available, you may want to consider funding your treatment with a credit card, but be certain you can make your regular payments.
- Loans: Some people choose to fund their treatment by taking out a personal loan.
- Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding can be a way of funding your addiction treatment through others’ help.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Types of Treatment Programs.
- Mojtabai, R. & Graff Zivin, J. (2003). Effectiveness and Cost-effectiveness of Four Treatment Modalities for Substance Disorders: A Propensity Score Analysis. Health Services Research, 38(1): 233–259.