For patients needing drug and alcohol treatment, outpatient and residential (inpatient) treatment programs can provide an essential level of care to achieve long-term recovery.
But how do you know which type of program you or a loved one would best benefit from? Both types of treatment have distinctions which make them more or less appropriate for a patient’s needs, depending on the patient’s level and length of addiction.
Note that this is a general overview of the major differences between residential and outpatient treatment programs. To truly understand which type of program is most appropriate for you, a friend, or a family member, an in-person diagnostic assessment with a qualified professional is needed.
Residential Treatment Programs
Residential treatment programs last a minimum of 28 days. Patients voluntarily enter a safe, secure facility in which intensive drug and alcohol treatment programs are the cornerstone of the patient’s daily activities. Often, patients who have attempted outpatient treatment programs but have ultimately relapsed back into drug and alcohol use, or have found outpatient programs difficult to complete, achieve success in a residential program.
Patients who require detoxification services due to concerns about withdrawal also benefit from residential programs, as detox services can be included as a part of residential treatment programs. After detox (if necessary), patients undergo an intensive, daily drug or alcohol treatment regimen to learn about the disease of addiction in a supportive, immersive environment.
Residential programs are safe, structured environments in which patients are removed from stressful circumstances that promote or fuel the urge to use. Because negatively influencing factors are removed from a patient’s daily experience, participants in residential treatment programs can begin to work on building life skills that had been interfered with due to addiction. Because of this intensive level of care, residential treatment programs are ideal for people who have unsuccessfully attempted to overcome addiction in outpatient programs, or for people who have identified that they need drug or alcohol treatment and want to “do it right” the first time. As previously stated, the level of care necessary for a patient should be determined by an in-person assessment with a qualified medical or counseling professional. Most often, patients who have attempted outpatient programs without success do require residential care, but some patients who have not yet undergone outpatient treatment may not require this high level of care.
Some patients are wary about voluntarily beginning a residential drug or alcohol treatment program because of the intensity, but residential programs are highly emotionally supportive and focus on helping the whole body and mind through treatment. For this reason, many residential centers encourage family participation, including evening family education programs and weekend programs. In addition to immediate family, patients benefit from having a “therapeutic community” in residential treatment programs – a community of patients who support one another through treatment by encouraging others to stay on task. In addition to the other differentiators of long-term residential care, it is this camaraderie gained through empathy and shared experience that often helps patients overcome addiction while completing drug or alcohol treatment.
Outpatient Treatment Programs
Outpatient programs provide patients with more freedom of movement.