The ins and outs of treatment aren’t general knowledge to most people. When it comes to addiction, much of our education is on a “need to know” basis. That means that once you determine that you or a loved one needs treatment, there are decisions to be made, and you may be scrambling for information. Do you opt for a residential program or is an intensive outpatient program more appropriate? What’s the difference and how do you know what’s right for your situation?
Residential programs are 24 hours a day, with participants living on-site and eating meals at the facility. These programs usually also offer a detox component for those who need it. In contrast, outpatient programs traditionally offer morning or afternoon and evening options. The time commitment is less, with individuals who attend outpatient treatment programs usually setting aside 3-4 hours per day for treatment.
When it comes to making the right treatment choice, there is no one right answer that applies to every single situation. Both residential and outpatient treatment serve a specific purpose and offer quality, comprehensive programs. It’s all about finding the right fit for your particular set of circumstances.
Residential vs. Outpatient
Of course, more is often better, so when it comes to addiction, residential treatment remains the most successful treatment method and is preferred in most cases. Getting an addicted individual out of their environment for an extended period to focus solely on sobriety is ideal. A residential program – usually lasting a minimum of 28 days but frequently spanning a longer period – allows for time to address not just the physical aspects of addiction but to also get to the root causes of why someone began using drugs or alcohol in the first place.
That’s not a fit for everyone, though. In some cases, residential treatment is simply not feasible. It may be that professional or family obligations make it impossible to leave daily life behind to seek treatment. In these instances, an Intensive Outpatient Program (or IOP) can provide flexible treatment near home.
While residential treatment offers more programming per day and the additional benefits of living with professionals on site as well as others going through the same thing, high quality inpatient and outpatient programs include similar features:
- A customized care plan focused on the unique needs of each individual
- Physician-directed medication management
- Primary therapy with a licensed mental health professional
- Group sessions with peer interaction
- Educational programs and lectures including Life Skills Training, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Stress Management and Relapse Prevention
- Holistic programming including art therapy, equine therapy, adventure programs and more
- Weekly random drug screenings
- Ongoing recovery support for long-term success
In certain cases, such as when medically managed detox is necessary, residential treatment is the only option. Residential programs also offer more comprehensive monitoring when it comes to medication and medical issues.
Choosing Residential AND Outpatient
It’s not uncommon for someone to use residential and outpatient treatment in tandem, beginning with a residential program and then stepping down to outpatient treatment as a way to ease back into everyday life. This option provides the individual with the security and structure of treatment as they venture out into the world of recovery.
Individuals may also seek treatment at various points in their recovery journey. Some use outpatient treatment as a way to pre-empt the destructive spiral of addiction and mental health issues before the problem becomes unmanageable. Others may return to residential treatment for a “tune-up” in order to prevent a relapse or after seeing some warning signs of a returning addiction.
Recovery is a life-long process, and the skills learned in treatment – whether in a residential or outpatient program – can make all the difference in your long-term success.
Finding the Right Program
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction and a co-occurring disorder, it can feel like you’re taking a crash course in treatment as you try to research the options. There is enough to deal with when someone you love is in crisis, so don’t put pressure on yourself to become an addiction expert overnight. Instead, call a reputable treatment provider like Foundations Recovery Network. There are professionals available 24 hours a day, seven days a week who can provide information on treatment programs, help with insurance and answer questions about the treatment process. They’ll take the time to gather information about your unique situation and match you or your loved one to the right program.