What’s the Difference Between an Outpatient and Inpatient Drug Rehab Program?

inpatient drug rehab

Addiction treatment centers often divide up their programs by levels of care, ranging from more clinically-intensive inpatient drug rehab programs to more independent outpatient drug rehab programs. A drug rehab center’s continuum of care may include inpatient drug rehab programs, such as medical detox in a hospital environment or 24-hour care in a medically-supervised residential drug treatment facility, to more independent, transitional treatment programs, such as intensive outpatient programs or transitional or independent living homes.

Individuals may transition from one program to the next in a consecutive order along the continuum, or they may step up or down to the appropriate level of care as needed. The length of stay in each program, treatment methods used, and treatment plan will vary from person to person. Often, a clinical advisor or primary counselor will advise or help guide individuals on their path depending on their unique circumstance.

Inpatient Drug Rehab

Inpatient residential treatment refers to a well-defined, highly structured method of care, with patients being monitored constantly in a clinically-supervised living environment. Individuals in an inpatient drug rehab program undergo near full-time professional treatment, which may include a range of group and individual therapies to help with one’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. The length of stay at an inpatient residential treatment facility varies, but most are 30, 60 or 90-day programs.

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Intensive Outpatient Programs

As individuals make progress in their recovery, they may step down to a lower level of care, such as an intensive outpatient program (IOP). In an IOP program, patients undergo fewer hours of treatment and typically have more independence in their day-to-day living environment. Some individuals in an IOP program may continue to work, go to school and personal functions; however, many intensive outpatient programs are often coupled with transitional living to provide extra support during recovery. Intensive outpatient programs also vary in the length of stay and can be anywhere from 30 days to 6 months or a year, depending on each individual’s transition and required level of support. Some who have already gone through a primary residential and intensive outpatient program may choose to return to an IOP program or supportive sober living environment if they are experiencing a relapse in their addiction.

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Independent Sober Living

Yet another step down from IOP is the option to live in an independent, sober living environment. Sober living homes are simply supportive, typically gender-specific, transitional living homes that promote sobriety, responsibility, and wellness through peer support. Residents of a sober living home may undergo their own treatment, but it is not required, and many maintain regular jobs, schooling and personal lives. Sober living homes do not typically have in-house medical or clinical support, but they are often tied to a treatment center offsite that can provide support and clinical treatment when required. Most sober living homes have strict house rules to encourage responsible behavior, particularly with respect to house chores, and prohibit the use of drugs or alcohol. Independent sober living homes can serve as the final step in one’s transition into a real-world environment.

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Have questions about what level of care you or a loved one needs? Contact our admissions team today to learn more about our programs.