There are many similarities between inpatient and outpatient alcohol rehab programs. Both types of treatment programs provide direction and guidance to the patients and their families to educate them about what alcoholism is and how to set and meet appropriate goals for treatment and recovery. Inpatient therapy involves a 24/7 stay in a residential treatment facility that is isolated from the outside world. The goal is to provide a setting that keeps distractions and temptations to a minimum and allows the patient to focus on recovery. These types of treatment programs can be as short as four to six weeks or as long as several months to a year, depending on the severity of the addiction. Inpatient alcohol rehab is beneficial for those who are severely addicted or who have had trouble succeeding in other treatment settings in the past.
Outpatient alcohol rehab is generally suggested for those who aren’t heavily addicted to alcohol but still need help breaking their addiction to this drug. Treatment usually involves one or more meetings per week that can last from one to several hours and include behavioral therapy, group therapy and single therapy sessions, as well as educational classes and other treatments.
Outpatient treatment allows individuals to continue working, going to school and – in general – continuing their normal life. Inpatient treatment is much more costly than outpatient treatment. Inpatient therapy has the advantage of being an environment free from distractions and temptations, whereas outpatient therapy will allow one to be exposed to temptations that may lead to relapse. Inpatient therapy also allows one to recover physically going back to the ‘real world.’
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Practice Parameter for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents with Substance Use Disorders, 2007, http://www.aacap.org/galleries/PracticeParameters/JAACAP%20Substance%20use%202005.pdf
American Psychiatric Association, Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Substance Use Disorders, Guideline Watch 2007, http://www.psychiatryonline.com/pracGuide/PracticePDFs/SUDwatch041307.pdf
Clinical Practice Guideline, Management of Substance Use Disorders, VA/DoD Evidenced Based Practice, 2009, http://www.healthquality.va.gov/sud/sud_full_601f.pdf
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