How to Decide Between Inpatient or Outpatient Drug Rehab

Deciding between an inpatient and an outpatient drug rehab depends upon many factors.  If a person has been addicted for a long time or if he also has other under lying problems, he may require treatment in an inpatient drug facility.

Outpatient addicts may work for some individuals if there drug abuse has not become too problematic or chronic.  Also, they may not have insurance coverage or be able to afford inpatient recovery center. A physician or counselor can help the person decide whether to seek help from inpatient or outpatient drug rehab.

Most inpatient rehab centers require a person to stay onsite 24 hours a day for at least 30 days, but there are other options with some inpatient drug programs.

Facilities are now obliged to offer an array of treatment options. Some have patients live on the grounds, but with only round-the-clock supervision rather than round-the-clock nursing and medical care. Other patients attend therapy programs during the day but sleep elsewhere. After 10 or 14 days of hospitalization, the staff knows the clients must find other services, like partial hospitalization and ambulatory programs. The concept is continuous care.

But the wrong treatment choice can carry real risks. One outpatient administrator tells a story about an alcoholic patient who attended four to six hours of therapy a day, then retired to a nearby inn each night. One evening the patient bought a bottle of Jack Daniel’s on his way home from the clinic, got drunk, and then fell down the stairs, nearly crashing through a window. And for many addicts, detoxification is only the beginning of treatment. Often, substance abuse overlays a more serious psychiatric problem that needs lengthy treatment.

In a short stay, the patient can deal with detox, but this alone does not bring about a recovery. It comes down to trying to treat a chronic illness as an acute one.  An addict patient that checks into inpatient and only stays for detox, loses the ability to see the next stage of recovery.

When done right, the treatment protocols can provide a safe haven for patients. But the hospital psychiatrist is no longer the center of the universe. There are managed-care companies that perhaps have been overzealous in their intrusion.  In some plans that make aggressive use of the “medical necessity” clause in their contracts.  It is necessary for the patient to remain in inpatient or outpatient drug rehab long enough to obtain satisfactory results.