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Inpatient vs Outpatient treatments

Multiple options regarding the type of rehab individuals offered for drug addiction are available.

At the most basic level, the options are inpatient or outpatient treatment programs. The difference is the manner in which these programs allow individuals to receive addiction treatment and then function outside of the treatment location.  It is important to know whether you’re an outpatient or an inpatient if you or your loved one will need hospital treatment and have private health insurance.

Currently, state services don´t usually cover outpatient services. Since having a test or consultation with a specialist does not necessarily mean you’re an inpatient, this is sometimes a common source of frustration.

Once you have been formally admitted to a medical center any service you have is considered an inpatient service. Thus, outpatient is anything where you have not formally been admitted to a clinic.  Clients shift to inpatient services when all the admission paperwork is filled out and are formally in. Health funds, by legislation, aren’t allowed to pay for any outpatient service where Medicare pays a benefit.

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Should I choose Inpatient or Outpatient?

Individuals in inpatient treatment programs have some type of condition or situation that requires that they be constantly monitored by a professional medical team. There are numerous conditions that require this level of medical monitoring, including going through alcohol withdrawal, having a co-occurring mental health disorder that needs to be addressed, being suicidal, or having several relapses and failed attempts at recovery, among others.

Residential treatment programs and partial hospitalization treatment programs differ from classical inpatient treatment programs as in this case, patients do not require 24-hour medical monitoring and medical care.  Individuals in outpatient treatment programs are allowed to visit their relatives, go to work, and have recreational activities. Outpatient treatment also includes intensive outpatient treatment programs (IOPs) that often provide the same level of treatment as inpatient treatment programs.  

Inpatient treatment programs have limited duration, which may vary, depending on the specific issues being treated. They can last from one week to 3 months, or much longer than a year.

For individuals with moderate to severe drug use disorders, getting involved in a medical-assisted withdrawal management program (detoxification) at La Jolla Recovery is a central tenant of treatment because drugs withdrawal can be lethal. Furthermore, individuals withdrawing from alcohol usually develop issues with cognition and reality due to the development of hallucinations and/or delusions that leave them vulnerable. Relapse rates are extremely high during this process.


Since 2002, the annual census of specialty addiction treatment facilities in the United States has identified intensive outpatient treatment programs as second in prevalence only to regular outpatient treatment for alcohol and drug abuse. In 2011, there were 6,089 programs in the United States that reported offering IOPs (44% of 13,720 addiction treatment programs), and IOPs served 141,964 patients—12% of the 1.2 million patients in care.

mission bay rehab salmon pink outdoors plants outside condos inpatient residential treatment

mission bay rehab salmon pink outdoors plants outside condos inpatient residential treatment

Advantages of Inpatient rehab

Some of the main advantages of using an inpatient withdrawal management program are:

  • The treatment program offered at La Jolla Recovery is implemented by a multidisciplinary team of treatment providers who address clients’ issues from different perspectives, which includes physicians, therapists, social workers, and occupational therapists 
  • It fosters a sense of personal responsibility and accountability for the client.
  • Inpatient treatment units isolate individuals with toxic environmental backgrounds, such as being homeless, living in an area where alcohol or drug abuse is predominant, and being in abusive relationships.
  • They help to develop confidence in individuals who are unsure of their ability to remain abstinent from alcohol.
  • The legal system is more likely to accept inpatient treatment for an addict as at least a partial form of incarceration.

Advantages of Outpatient Treatment

Clients in treatment for an alcohol use disorder will transition to some form of outpatient treatment in the near future. Outpatient treatment is the mainstay of all long-term substance use disorder recovery programs. Individuals who remain in treatment-related activities for a sufficient amount of time increase the probability that their long-term recovery will succeed, and they will eventually end up involved in some form of outpatient treatment.

These are the advantages of outpatient treatment:

  1. Outpatient treatment programs allow individuals to continue with their lives and maintain important life commitments to family, work and college.
  2. Being in an outpatient treatment program protects confidentiality. 
  3. Outpatient treatment programs are sometimes very intensive. For example, intensive outpatient treatment provides around ten or more hours of intensive treatment per week.
  4. Outpatient treatment programs help patients to develop a strong and diverse social support network of other individuals in recovery.

Inpatient treatment programs are very useful at monitoring and controlling a person’s withdrawal from drugs. They provide an individual with a solid foundation for their recovery program that can help them once they transition to outpatient care, but due to their time-limited nature, they only represent the first stage of recovery. Outpatient treatment programs are the foundation of long-term recovery. They provide intensive treatment, the ability to somehow continue their normal lives, flexibility, social support, and the opportunity to participate in treatment for years after their initial abstinence from alcohol. Nevertheless, there are more potential temptations that can result in relapse. 

Finally, inpatient treatment programs are generally equivalent to long-term outpatient treatment in terms of the quality of rehab available. Both types of programs at La Jolla Recovery have shown similar success rates.

Inpatient treatment programs are often more successful at helping individuals get through the withdrawal process from drugs without relapsing, but once the individual has committed to quit alcohol and/or other drugs, they must develop an effective program of relapse prevention outside of the detox venue. Make an appointment at La Jolla Recovery for an assessment that helps you decide the best option.







Author ljradmin

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