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Inpatient vs. Outpatient Therapy Services

Considering how distressing and uncomfortable the physical effects of addiction can be, it’s understandable how some may view the therapy aspects of addiction treatment unnecessary. However, addiction’s effects extend well past the nausea and sleepless nights that come with withdrawal.

The Importance of Inpatient and Outpatient Therapy Services

After so many months or years of drug abuse, a person’s mind comes to fall into different patterns of thinking, which over time turn into full-blown belief systems. These changes inevitably seep into a person’s behaviors, motivations and priorities. By the time a person enters drug rehab, his or her entire psychological make-up has been altered to the point where drugs have become the be all and end all of daily existence.

Inpatient and outpatient therapy services help recovering addicts undo the effects of addiction on the mind. In effect, addiction treatment doesn’t actually start until a person works through addiction’s effects on the mind. Inpatient and outpatient therapy services specifically address the underlying psychological issues that drive addiction behavior.

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Treatment Settings

live in rehab

All addiction treatment programs offer therapy and other types of treatment, but some also offer residence options.

Not surprisingly, inpatient and outpatient therapy services are offered through in- and outpatient treatment programs, the two main types of addiction treatment settings. Ultimately, both program types offer the same types of therapy services. The difference between the two has more to do with intensity or level of treatment than any actual differences in services offered.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a person’s individual treatment needs should determine which treatment setting would best address his or her addiction problem. In general, the more severe the addiction problem, the more intensive treatment should be. Inpatient programs offer the most intensive level of treatment, while outpatient therapy services are offered within the least intensive treatment settings.

Addiction treatment follows a continuum of care the moves from the most intensive to the least intensive treatment interventions. Ideally, someone in recovery would progress through treatment in the same manner; however, relapse episodes do happen. This means, someone who experiences a relapse while in outpatient therapy services may well have to re-enter inpatient treatment and start over again.

Inpatient Therapy Services

Services Offered:

  • Assessment and treatment planning
  • Daily individual psychotherapy sessions
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Round-the-clock access to counselors
  • Medical treatment for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease
  • 12 Step support groups

Highly Structured Treatment Environment

Inpatient therapy services take place within a highly structured treatment environment. Patients reside at the facility for the duration of the program, following a daily schedule of treatment sessions.

Someone in need of inpatient treatment likely has a long history of drug abuse and has been in and out of drug treatment multiple times. People with long or chronic histories of drug abuse also tend to develop other conditions due to the damaging effects of drugs on the brain and body. For this reason, inpatient programs also provide medical care as well treatment for psychological disorders.

Unlike outpatient therapy services, people in inpatient programs attend individual and group therapy sessions on a daily basis. Patients also have access to therapists on an emergency or as-needed basis.

Comprehensive Evaluation Process

Due to the extensive damage caused by long-term drug use, inpatient programs employ a comprehensive evaluation process to determine a person’s treatment needs. This process entails gathering information regarding a person’s:

  • Medical history
  • Mental health history
  • Drug abuse history
  • Family history of substance abuse
  • Support system resources
  • Motivation for treatment

While outpatient therapy services do include an assessment profile, outpatient treatment is nowhere near as intensive as inpatient care and so requires a less in-depth evaluation process. The information gathered during the evaluation stage determines the course of treatment for the patient.

Inpatient therapy services employ a team of treatment professionals, including:

  • Therapist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Case manager
  • Addictions counselor

This team works together with the patient to devise a treatment plan, which includes specific, measurable objectives and goals. Throughout the course of treatment, the team may modify treatment plan objectives and goals depending on how the patient responds to treatment. Programs offering outpatient therapy services also utilize a team approach and treatment planning process.

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Outpatient Therapy Services

Services Offered:

  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Drug testing
  • 12 Step support groups
  • Family therapy

Loosely Structured Treatment Setting

Outpatient therapy services work best for people who’ve progressed through the recovery process in terms of successfully completing detox and drug treatment programming. Rather than require patients to live at the facility, patients live at home, allowing them to schedule treatment sessions around their existing schedules. This works especially well for people with work and family obligations to meet.

In effect, outpatient therapy services provide a person with:

  • A level of support that helps him or her maintain ongoing abstinence
  • A means for working through the underlying issues that drive addiction behaviors
  • Family supports

While outpatient therapy services may offer more in terms of overall convenience, this loosely structured treatment approach allows for considerable freedom on the patient’s part. This degree of freedom can leave a person vulnerable to relapse in cases where he or she isn’t yet equipped to handle daily life pressures.

Psychosocial Interventions

Psychosocial interventions make up the core components of any form of therapy services. This is especially the case for outpatient therapy services.

People in recovery oftentimes come from dysfunctional backgrounds in terms of how they’re taught to view self and others. These conditions predispose a person to drug abuse as a means for coping with inner conflicts and difficult emotions.

Psychosocial interventions help addicts develop the communication and coping skills that make ongoing abstinence possible. Psychosocial interventions commonly used by outpatient therapy services include:

  • Group therapy
  • 12 Step support groups
  • Relapse prevention training
  • Sponsorship

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, group therapies and 12 Step support groups work especially well at helping recovering addicts:

  • Develop healthy communication skills
  • Confront destructive thinking patterns
  • Take accountability for the choices they make
  • Understand the importance of having a support system in place

All in all, the choice between inpatient and outpatient therapy services comes down to which program will provide the level of care necessary to maintain abstinence on a day-to-day basis.

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Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: Rehab Media Group, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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