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Difference between residential, inpatient and outpatient?

What is the difference between residential, inpatient and outpatient drug rehab?

There are a multitude of program types to choose from when seeking addiction rehab. Available programs include:

  • Residential
  • Inpatient
  • Outpatient
  • Intensive outpatient (IOP)
  • Partial hospitalization (PHP)
When choosing a drug rehab treatment program, one’s drug history is an important aspect in deciding the type of treatment necessary.

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Residential Treatment Centers (RTC): RTCs are interchangeable with inpatient rehab programs for they require patients to stay in-house and be monitored 24/7 for a determined length of time. A residential program has shown to be the most effective when creating a fresh start free of alcohol and drugs. These facilities remove clients from their previous unhealthy environments by removing temptation and allowing them the physical and mental space to focus on their health and recovery. Inpatient treatment is recommended for those physically dependent on drugs and alcohol.

There are also programs that are generally extensions of other rehab experiences. For example, sober living is frequently used to supplement residential or inpatient treatment, just as it may be relied upon if patients suffer relapse and need to engage in a more focused, productive and sober environment without going back into a rehab program.  Although patients often think they have a choice between residential inpatient outpatient, IOP and PHP, there are usually determining factors that lead to which program a patient chooses. For example, a long-time heroin addicted patient will usually be better treated within a controlled environment of inpatient or residential treatment. Teens also do well in inpatient treatment.

Outpatient Rehab: Outpatient drug rehabilitation and residential treatment both focus on abstaining from drugs and alcohol in order to maintain sobriety. However, outpatient does not require clients to stay in-house. These programs are designed to help incorporate the 12-steps into daily living, work through daily struggles, and transition into a new drug-free lifestyle. Outpatient programs are recommended for patients leaving residential treatment to continue monitoring and receiving the help necessary to maintaining long-term sobriety.

Some patients do have a choice between residential inpatient outpatient, IOP or PHP. But most will be directed by behavioral health professionals, an addiction assessment and even their insurance policy. Some insurance policies permit only outpatient or intensive outpatient treatment, while others advocate PHP, residential and inpatient.

Regardless of the type of treatment you are allowed under your insurance policy or through other means, it is just extremely important to engage in treatment. You may not be placed in the program you would prefer, as many residential or inpatient treatment participants believe they would rather be in IOP or outpatient programs. But, if you get involved in your treatment, you will find that time passes quickly and – regardless of the program type – your peers in recovery can become some of your best allies for a healthier future.