The Pros and Cons of Inpatient vs Outpatient Treatment
When our loved ones fall prey to addiction, we sometimes feel that we are powerless to wrest them from its claws.
We might even blame ourselves for our inability to rescue them.
Despair, however, as justified as it is in these cases, will not help our loved ones shake their drug addictions.
In other words, the time to start seriously discussing rehab eventually comes.
But what course of treatment will be best?
In order to make the decision that is right for your family, you need to have the inpatient vs outpatient debate, and everything you’ll need to consider to get started is right here.
As many of you probably know, inpatient care requires that a patient remains at a facility for the duration of his or her treatment.
As with all things, inpatient care comes with benefits and drawbacks. Here are a few of the pros and cons of choosing inpatient care:
Inpatient Care Is More Intense Than Outpatient Care
While outpatient care can certainly be effective, inpatient care has an intensity that outpatient care simply cannot match.
Because patients cannot leave the facility while undergoing treatment, they have more chances to participate in rehab activities. For example, they regularly attend group meetings and meet with their counselors.
Some patients even undergo medical detoxes during their stays, something they would have had a harder time doing if they had instead chosen outpatient care.
Patients’ Days Are Nicely Structured
Many drug addicts’ schedules’ are irregular; some of them sleep during the day and become active at night.
The people who work in rehab facilities are aware of this fact, so they make a point out of scheduling meetings and other activities for some time during the day. These appointments force drug addicts to get their schedules back on track.
Patients Don’t Deal With All of the Stresses of Everyday Life
As previously stated, patients must remain at their facilities for the duration of their treatment.
While this condition is limiting, it is also beneficial to patients because they don’t have to deal with the stresses of work or parenting. They also don’t have to worry about relapsing because they don’t have access to their drugs of choice.
Inpatient Care Is More Expensive
Simply put, inpatient care costs more than outpatient care.
It can actually get pretty expensive.
That said, don’t immediately rule it out as an option. If the person who is battling addiction has insurance or Medicare, for instance, you will not have to completely fund the treatment.
If your family can find some way to afford the treatment, it will be worth the cost.
The Patient Cannot Leave to Take Care of Important Business
If patients have jobs or children, they will not be able to attend to them during their stay.
Needless to say, finding childcare and putting work on hold can be emotionally and financially difficult for some patients.
Some people don’t, after all, have anyone to help them take care of their children, and there are many people who cannot afford to miss so many days of work.
There Is A Transition Period After Patients Leave
Here’s the truth: Patients who reside at rehab facilities are not dealing with all of the stresses of everyday life. In fact, they probably couldn’t relapse even if they wanted to since they are under almost constant care.
When they return to the outside world, however, all of the stress and temptations suddenly exist again. Adjusting can be difficult, so rehabilitated patients will need a good support system after they complete their programs.
Unlike inpatient care, outpatient care allows patients to roam the outside world. They need only fit the required meetings into their daily schedules.
Of course, this type of care also comes with its pros and cons:
It’s Cheaper Than the Alternative
We’ve already established that outpatient care is cheaper than inpatient care.
Even so, “cheaper” doesn’t necessarily mean “cheap.”
In fact, outpatient care can still run you and your family some thousands of dollars, so keep that in mind when selecting a course of treatment.
You should also remember that, just as in the case of inpatient care, you might not have to fully fund the outpatient care. If your loved one has Medicaid, Medicare, or some sort of health insurance, some of the costs will already be covered.
Patients Don’t Have to Put Their Lives on Hold
As stated earlier, outpatient care only mandates that patients work around their schedules in order to attend meetings. They can, in fact, return home to their families at each day’s end.
Consequently, they are able to care for their children and go to work as they normally would.
Further still, the steady stream of income definitely helps lessen the financial burdens that might come with funding outpatient care.
Patients Get More One-On-One Time With Counselors
Outpatient groups tend to be small, so patients do not have to fight to get one-on-one time with their counselors.
Not only that, but many people are more open to sharing the gritty details of their lives with smaller groups of people. This willingness to share and address addiction certainly has the potential to help speed up the recovery process.
There Is Less Support For Medical Detox
In conversations about inpatient vs outpatient care, this is a subtlety that many people probably don’t even consider.
Obviously, most people’s homes are not stocked with all of the drugs and equipment that are necessary for medical detoxes. That said, if your loved one is in dire need of a medical detox, outpatient care might not be ideal.
Patients Have to Deal With the Stresses of Everyday Life
While being around children and going to work can be pleasant, children and jobs are also huge sources of stress.
Patients who try to juggle everyday life with their recovery might become overwhelmed and turn to drugs or alcohol again.
To be fair, however, outpatient recovery is more organic, which means that patients who undergo outpatient treatment won’t have as many problems adjusting to their new sobriety in the outside world.
Outpatient Care Just Isn’t As Intense
Outpatient care requires that you trust patients to attend meetings and resist the urge to return to their old ways.
In other words, holding patients to their word is a lot more challenging.
Do not, however, completely disregard this method of treatment in any discussion you have with your family about inpatient vs outpatient care for this reason alone.
Many people who have undergone outpatient treatments have benefited from them. Just remember to support your loved ones along the way if they should choose this route.
Inpatient Vs Outpatient Care: Which Wins?
So how does each course of treatment fare in the inpatient vs outpatient debate?
As it turns out, neither wins. In truth, what is best entirely depends on your circumstances. Choosing inpatient care for an alcoholic, for example, might work for some families, but certainly not for others.
That said, weigh your options carefully and choose something that works for both your family and your situation.
Reviewed and Assessed by
Taylor Brown, B.A.Com., MAADC II
Tim Coleman, M. of Ed.