When deciding what level of care you or your son needs to treat their substance use disorder, a lot of the resources can be unclear. The largest decision that needs to be made after you or your loved one has agreed that they want to seek help is if they should pursue inpatient or outpatient treatment.
There are many differences between inpatient and outpatient that must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Let’s take a look at the main difference between the two by introducing both forms of treatment and going over the high-level details of each.
In this series of blogs, we will explore the different nuances between inpatient and outpatient treatment options. We will also go over which treatment option works best for different circumstances. Let’s first jump into this subject by breaking down the basics of inpatient and outpatient substance use disorder treatment.
What Is Outpatient Treatment?
Outpatient refers to substance use disorder treatment options where the individual seeking treatment is not formally admitted to a medical facility. They continue to live on their own, or in a structured living environment and attend treatment appointments based on their own work/school schedule.
Outpatient treatment providers can often have a psychiatrist on staff who is able to diagnose and treat mental illness with medication.
Outpatient treatment is closely associated with the term “IOP”. While all IOP is outpatient care, not all outpatient care is IOP. To better understand this differentiation, let’s look at the most common forms of Outpatient treatment for those seeking relief from a substance use disorder.
What Is IOP?: Intensive Outpatient Explained
IOP stands for Intensive Outpatient. It is commonly a treatment plan of therapy that requires 3 hours of group therapy at least 3 times a week, commonly for 3-4 months.
IOP tends to incorporate a wide variety of different treatment options, with a focus on group therapy. The group aspect of IOP allows those struggling with substance use to start to make connections and identify patterns by seeing personal behaviors displayed by others within the group.
The group dynamic of IOP also helps those early in substance use recovery start to build a community in which they feel safe to share struggles and experiences, This is crucial for long-term success.
What Is General Outpatient?
After those in outpatient treatment finish their 12 weeks of IOP, they are typically downgraded to general outpatient. As the name suggests, this is less frequent than IOP, and is focused more on maintenance rather than stabilization and education.
GOP tends to take place either once a week and is typically a one-on-one session with a counselor and the individual in treatment for substance use. These outpatient appointments are typically viewed as just “therapy”.
General outpatient can last for as long as the individual and therapist feel is necessary. We find that many individuals who are navigating life in recovery from a substance use disorder prefer to speak with a therapist once a week for the first few years of recovery.
What Is Inpatient Treatment?
Inpatient treatment refers to what most people typically think of as “rehab”. It is a medical facility in which the individual seeking treatment is admitted under the care of a trained medical staff.
This includes doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and other trained professionals whose job it is, is to ensure that the patients under their care are medically stable, focusing on their recovery, and making progress in their treatment plans.
How Long Is Inpatient Drug Treatment?
Inpatient programs tend to last on average 28 days. Though depending on programs and insurance coverage these programs can range from 14 days to more than even 90 days.
Day-to-day life in an inpatient facility is similar to that of an IOP session, with more wellness programming built around a day. Patients can expect to learn about meditation, general health, and wellness, coping mechanisms, spirituality, as well as individual and group therapy under the supervision of a counselor.
Inpatient facilities also typically have a psychiatrist on staff who is able to diagnose and treat mental health conditions which require medication.
The first step of starting inpatient treatment is typically undergoing a medically supervised detox.
What Is Detox? Is That A Part of Inpatient?
For those using substances which have physically addictive qualities such as opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol, as well as others, medical detox is typically the first step of being admitted to an inpatient facility.
Medical detoxes are typically required for one of two reasons – the withdrawal symptoms of the substance are actually medically dangerous, or the withdrawal symptoms are so painful, most individuals will tend to run away from treatment unless palliative care is administered.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines or alcohol disorders can cause life-threatening side effects such as Grand Mal seizures. Withdrawals from opioids are typically not life-threatening but so uncomfortable and painful, palliative care is required to keep the patient from checking out against medical advice to continue using.
Some inpatient rehabs have detox facilities on the same campus, others require new admissions to undergo a medical detox at a hospital before being admitted.
Detox is typically billed differently from inpatient care. It is important to discuss with your insurance provider the differences between inpatient and detox billing.
Drug & Alcohol Treatment In Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill
Do you or a loved one need drug and/or alcohol treatment in the Raleigh area? Don’t worry, Green Hill Recovery can help.
We understand that realizing you or a loved one needs help with a substance use disorder can be overwhelming. We can ensure that students at Duke, UNC, or all area colleges can start their recovery journeys with minimal disruptions to their class schedules.
Are you curious about learning more about how Green Hill Recovery can help? Let’s have a low-pressure chat today and see if we are the right fit for you or your loved one.