If you have a drug or alcohol problem, your doctor may suggest
treatment at an inpatient or outpatient facility. At inpatient facilities, you
stay overnight. At outpatient facilities, you come only during the day. How
long you stay varies among programs.
How are inpatient and outpatient treatment similar?
Inpatient and outpatient treatment programs both usually involve the
12-step program used by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and
Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Treatment may include group therapy, one-on-one
counseling, drug and alcohol education, medical care,
Your doctor or counselor will help you decide whether you should have
inpatient or outpatient treatment. The choice may depend on:
Inpatient treatment may be part of a hospital program or found in
special clinics. You'll sleep at the facility and get therapy in the day or
Inpatient treatment may be a good option if:
You've tried outpatient treatment but it didn't
You have other physical or mental health
Your home situation makes it hard to stay away from drugs
You don't live near an outpatient treatment
You may stay for 1 to 6 weeks, depending on how your
recovery is going. After inpatient treatment, you
should go to outpatient treatment for more counseling and group therapy.
Inpatient treatment also may be residential, which means you stay at the
facility for months.
Outpatient treatment happens in mental health clinics, counselors'
offices, hospital clinics, or local health department offices. Unlike inpatient
treatment, you don't stay overnight.
Outpatient programs can be a challenge because you may continue to
face problems at work and home. But it will help you build the skills you need
to handle everyday problems.
In standard outpatient treatment, you may have 1 or 2
group therapy sessions a week. Treatment may go on for a year or more. Sessions
may be in the evening or on weekends so you can go to work.
Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) usually involves
around 10 to 20 hours of counseling or group therapy spread over 3 days a week.
This may last for 1 to 3 months. A more intensive form of outpatient treatment
is day hospital. This means you go for treatment 5 days a week, usually for
most of the day.
Outpatient treatment may be a good option if:
You can't or don't want to quit work or take a leave of
You want to be close to loved ones.
stay away from drugs or alcohol where you live.
Inpatient treatment is too expensive.
For outpatient treatment to work well for you, it's important to go
to your sessions regularly and also get other support, such as Alcoholics
Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Having support from loved ones, good
transportation, and a stable place to live also are important.
Whether you get inpatient or outpatient treatment, it's important to
stay committed to a drug-free or sober lifestyle. With treatment, you can make
healthy changes and keep drugs or alcohol out of your life.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerPeter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction Christine R. Maldonado, PhD - Behavioral Health
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