June 7, 2015

Outpatient Treatment

When an individual who is addicted to alcohol or drugs decides “Enough is enough”, the next decision he or she needs to make is inpatient treatment versus outpatient treatment.

Generally, “inpatient treatment” is equated with a minimum of 28 days.  Of course, implicit in “inpatient treatment” is the requirement that you live at the treatment center.  Additionally, the inpatient recipient of services can benefit from the provision of meals, the availability of therapists, and residence with other recovering addicts, and more structure.  Also associated with this type of treatment is the prospect of much greater expense.

“Outpatient treatment” is far less structured. To be sure, the requirement of sobriety exists in outpatient as well as inpatient treatment. Indeed, outpatient treatment provides the same essential services as does inpatient.  The major difference is where the patient lives. By definition, outpatient treatment does not require the patient to live at the treatment center. Moreover, outpatient treatment is less adherent to the constraints of time.  The individual who chooses outpatient treatment will likely be living at home, or in some other location, that may have been contributory to his or her addiction.  Clearly, this would be a less safe living situation. On the other hand, it would allow the individual to continue with his or her work and allow the individual to keep his or her addiction out of the public eye.  Rather, the individual would retain the ability to share the facts of his or her addiction with select close friends, co-workers, relatives and other associates. However, the out-of-pocket expense is perceived to be far less than that of inpatient treatment.

Let’s look at the issue of out-of-pocket expense. Prior to the signing of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare,” The economic disparity between the two types of treatment was significant. But with Obamacare in place, far more health insurance policies are required to cover, at least in part, care for alcohol or substance abuse.  If you do have a medical insurance policy, you should look at it or call your agent or insurance adviser to determine exactly what services are covered.  The gap between inpatient and outpatient therapy will most likely be smaller.

Assuming the economics can be worked out, the choice between inpatient and outpatient treatment is a personal one. If the individual is determined to commit to inpatient treatment for his or her addiction, and doesn’t care about the social or other ramifications or stigmas, inpatient treatment will likely be the choice. On the other hand, if there are other issues affecting the decision, be they personal, familial, professional, social, or some combination of them, and the individual wants to learn how to live as a sober person in the “real world,” and face the reality of what caused him or her to seek treatment, then outpatient treatment will be the choice.

Either way, you should look at your circumstances and options, consult with those you trust and can depend upon, and make the best choice for yourself.

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