Individuals seeking treatment for a substance use disorder are often confused about the differences between inpatient residential treatment and outpatient care.
Although both types of programs offer intensive counseling to help build the skills necessary for sobriety, outpatient treatment is provided in a less restrictive environment where the individual returns home each night. This can be either a key benefit or a potential drawback, depending upon your specific needs.
Types of People Who Benefit from Outpatient Treatment
Substance abuse treatment provided on an outpatient basis is often recommended for people who fit into one or more of the following categories:
- You know you need help, but you haven’t hit rock bottom. It’s a common misconception that you need to hit rock bottom for substance abuse treatment to be effective. Often, it’s easier to address issues before a crisis situation develops. The less restrictive environment of an outpatient program is ideal in this scenario.
- You have a strong support system at home. One of the biggest advantages of residential treatment is having a team of people to provide 24/7 support. However, if your family and friends are well-informed about the causes of addiction and are committed to providing the accountability you need, outpatient therapy can be a good alternative to residential treatment.
- You learn best by continually practicing new skills. Outpatient therapy is setup to allow participants to immediately apply the lessons they’ve learned to managing cravings, avoiding triggers, and coping with stress without the use of addictive substances. This approach often appeals to hands-on learners who prefer to focus on practical suggestions instead of first learning about the evidence supporting different strategies to manage sobriety.
- You’re the parent of young children. It’s common for people struggling with drug or alcohol abuse to want to turn their lives around for the sake of their children. However, being a parent can make it difficult to seek inpatient treatment. If you don’t have a spouse or supportive family members who can provide child care while you are in a residential program, outpatient treatment may be a viable alternative.
- You’re a busy professional. If you have a demanding career and are worried about the professional ramifications of taking 30, 60, or 90 days to attend residential treatment, a flexible outpatient program may fit your needs. Since these programs typically offer night and weekend sessions, you can work full-time and still stay on top of your recovery. This also allows to protect your personal privacy by avoiding the need to tell your employer that you are struggling with substance abuse.
- You’re a small business owner. Self-employed individuals may have more flexibility in determining their daily schedules, but this doesn’t mean they have access to unlimited time off work. When there is no one to see to your daily business needs, outpatient treatment may be the best choice to manage both your recovery and the future of your company.
- You’re worried you can’t afford treatment. If you are worried about your finances or the limits of your insurance coverage, outpatient treatment’s lower cost can be a significant advantage. Most health insurance policies will cover outpatient therapy or pay part of the cost, even if residential care isn’t covered.
- You’ve already been to residential treatment, but you need more support to prevent relapse. Graduating from a residential treatment program and transitioning back into the real world can be difficult. Someone who has been determined to be at a high risk of relapse due to the severity of their addiction and a lack of support at home may benefit from outpatient treatment as a transitional step to recovery.
Making the Choice That’s Right for You
It’s important to remember that no two people struggling with substance abuse are exactly alike. Everyone faces unique challenges on the road to recovery.
Outpatient treatment can be a wonderful option for many people, but others really need the support of a residential program. For example, you may require residential treatment if you:
- Have a co-occurring mental health disorder or a chronic illness that hasn’t been properly managed
- Believe your home environment is not conducive to recovery
- Are determined to be at a high risk of relapse
Discussing your concerns with your healthcare provider can help you make the choice that’s right for you.
Twin Lakes Recovery Center offers both residential treatment and an intensive outpatient program at three locations in Georgia. Our IOP includes multiple family group therapy, individual therapy, process groups, education groups, skills building groups, and peer support. Participants learn about the disease of addiction, the recovery journey, and the skills necessary to promote a sober future.