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Choosing between Inpatient and Outpatient Care

Once someone decides to seek treatment for opioid addiction, the next step is to consider their options. The two main forms of rehab are inpatient and outpatient. While they both provide the necessary resources to treat addiction, there are significant differences to keep in mind.

Whether you’re seeking treatment for yourself, or researching for a loved one, it’s imperative that you learn what each program has to offer.  Depending on the severity of an addiction and other personal needs, one option may prove more beneficial than another.

Inpatient Care

Outpatient Care

Inpatient care requires that you move into the facility for a certain length of time.

Inpatient rehabilitation centers provide their patients with around-the-clock medical and psychological care. This option is best for those who require a more controlled environment, away from all possible temptations and influences.

Inpatient care usually runs anywhere from 28 days to six months. Treatment takes place throughout the day, and follows a well thought out schedule, particular to the person’s unique needs. This controlled environment eliminates any outside distractions and enticements that would likely be prevalent otherwise.

Making Arrangements

Since inpatient care requires full time attendance, certain obligations need to be taken care of prior to beginning rehab. The amount of preparation needed varies from person to person. Here’s an example of a common “to-do list”:

  1. Find transportation to and from treatment
  2. Secure a place for children or other family members to reside
  3. Research regulations prior to packing personal belongings
  4. Inform your employer

Outside Contact

The rules and regulations for contacting loved ones while attending inpatient rehab varies per facility. Receiving emotional support from close family and friends is a fundamental part of recovery, which all treatment centers recognize and cater to with their own unique approach.

Many inpatient centers provide mental health counseling, not only to the residents, but to their families as well. This offers loved ones the opportunity to better understand opioid addiction, and provides them with the tools to repair what is often a tarnished relationship with the addicted person.


The first course of action when entering rehab is usually drug detox. This process is closely supervised by professional medical staff to ensure safety and comfort. Often times, medication assisted treatment is used to help reduce withdrawal symptoms in those with an opioid addiction. This also helps to decrease cravings, and thus, decrease the likelihood of relapse. Opioid withdrawals are terribly uncomfortable and can even be lethal, making a monitored detox necessary for recovery.

Other treatments provided during inpatient care include regular appointments with psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists, in both an individual and group setting. Additional options such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and art therapy are available at certain facilities.

Choosing the Right Treatment

Outpatient Care

Outpatient facilities are best for those with a more mild opioid addiction, where they are still able to take part in their daily activities. Instead of living in a rehabilitation center for weeks or months, a patient is only required to attend outpatient care for up to 12 hours a week, for 3 months to a year, depending on the severity of the addiction.


During outpatient detox, patients must undergo regular physical and psychological examinations. They are also provided with medications, if needed, to relieve withdrawal symptoms. Common opioid withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and agitation.

These facilities still provide mental health counseling and other vital resources for addiction recovery. The big difference is that patients can continue living at home, working, going to school, and engaging in their daily life while seeking treatment.


Outpatient Care

Outpatient care allows you to stay close to loved ones.

A huge benefit to attending outpatient versus inpatient care is that you have unlimited access to your loved ones. And for those without a strong support system at home, there are support groups available where other recovering addicts can share their stories and provide guidance. Continuous emotional support is a vital part of opioid addiction recovery.

Some people who complete an inpatient rehab program choose to seek outpatient care as well, so as to strengthen their recovery odds.

Outpatient care is also a more affordable option than inpatient rehabilitation. However, this shouldn’t stop you from seeking inpatient care, if you feel that it’s the best option for you.


Whether you choose to attend an inpatient rehab or an outpatient facility, the important thing is that you’re starting the journey toward recovery. Millions of people seek opioid addiction treatment every year. Don’t let the stigma of rehab stop you from getting the help you need.

To learn more about opioid addiction treatment options, call 800-466-0354 ( Who Answers?).

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Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: Rehab Media Group, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

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