Outpatient drug treatment and inpatient drug treatment have very specific purposes and are not the same level of treatment as many would hope or assume. Individuals should understand the differences and goals of outpatient vs. inpatient drug treatment before choosing the appropriate drug rehab program for themselves or a loved one. Outpatient is just that, drug treatment delivered in a drug rehab facility where the individual is allowed to return home after treatment services. Inpatient drug rehab is treatment which is delivered in a hospital or clinic-type setting where individuals remain during their entire treatment plan.
Individuals who may want a more flexible or convenient drug treatment option may prefer outpatient vs. inpatient drug treatment. For obvious reasons, individuals in outpatient treatment can maintain their normal routines and commitments such as work and family while also receiving treatment. In outpatient treatment counselors will make sure that client are physically stabilized and through detox if this hasn't already been accomplished prior to their arrival. After the individual is detoxed and physically stabilized treatment counselors will work as intensively as possible with the client to help them find resolution to their addiction, which is accomplished through counseling, group therapy, etc.
The problem isn't that individuals won't have major breakthroughs in treatment in outpatient drug treatment. The problem enters in when they leave outpatient treatment, prior to finding resolution to all problems and issues in their lives which could jeopardize their sobriety and abstinence. Becoming rehabilitated isn't just about becoming sober and putting an end to substance abuse, it's about making important lifestyle changes and resolving deep rooted emotional or psychological issues which could result in devastating setbacks if left unresolved. So a treatment client could have a major discovery in outpatient treatment one day and feel great. Then, find that they are in a precarious position when they return home to an abusive spouse or return to "friends" and acquaintances that they have maintained relations with that happen to trigger their drug or alcohol abuse.
In inpatient drug treatment the individual won't be as prone to setbacks or relapse because the client has the opportunity to address any and all issues which could compromise their abstinence. Ideally, and particularly in long-term inpatient drug treatment, clients are never released prematurely before important lifestyle changes are made and major breakthroughs are experienced in regards to the causes of their substance abuse. This is what makes inpatient drug treatment a far more ideal treatment option, so that any wins and successes in treatment can be sustained and nurtured into even bigger achievements and breakthroughs so that the individual has a chance at a higher quality of life when they leave treatment.
It is also important to understand that individuals in recovery are typically still going to have cravings to use drugs and alcohol for quite some time, even long after they detox and go through drug and alcohol withdrawal. The desire to use can be quite strong, and if not fully prepared mentally and physically to overcome these cravings it is very easy to fall back into a life of substance abuse. In an outpatient drug treatment setting, individuals will still have access to drugs and alcohol on a daily basis. This is often a recipe for disaster and failure for clients, who are simply not prepared to be trusted under such circumstances. It really isn't hard to understand how relapse occurs under such circumstances, and this is why so many outpatient drug treatment clients find that this level of treatment just isn't an effective option for them.
Inpatient drug treatment is going to be a completely drug and alcohol free setting, with absolutely no access to any substance which could cause a relapse. The only drugs available are going to be medical drugs which are only used to prevent health complications during detox or as part of opiate maintenance therapy. Other than this, there is no chance that the individual can give in to cravings. Rather, the intensity of treatment in an inpatient drug treatment program will help clients overcome these cravings by keeping focused on rehab activities and steps and keeping them productive. As mentioned before, it is important that individuals remain in inpatient drug treatment for as long as 6 months or longer in some cases to reap the full benefits of treatment. This is known as "long-term" inpatient drug rehab, and is considered the most ideal treatment setting in terms of results and success rates along with residential treatment.