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Residential vs. Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment

Residential vs. Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Programs

Roads to Recovery

For patients needing drug and alcohol treatment, outpatient and residential treatment programs can provide an essential level of care to achieve long-term recovery. But how do you know whether you or a loved one would best benefit from a residential or outpatient program? Both types of treatment have distinctions which make them more or less appropriate for a patient’s needs, depending on the patient’s level and length of addiction.

Despite their differences, residential and outpatient treatment programs have the same basic treatment philosophy.

Both treatment programs utilize cognitive behavioral therapy and 12-step counseling within group and individual sessions. Both require abstinence, regularly attendance in AA or NA meetings, and urge participation in aftercare programs.

It is important to first note that this is a general overview of the major differences between residential and outpatient treatment programs. In order to truly understand which type of program is most appropriate for you, a friend, or a family member, an in-person diagnostic assessment with a qualified professional is needed.

Residential Treatment Programs

Residential Treatment Programs
Residential treatment programs, like The Ridge, are 28-day minimum programs in which patients voluntarily enter a safe, secure facility in which intensive drug and alcohol treatment programs are the cornerstone of the patient’s daily activities. Often, patients who have unsuccessfully attempted outpatient treatment programs achieve success in a residential program. Patients who require detoxification services due to concerns about withdrawal also benefit from residential programs, as detox services are often included as a part of residential treatment programs. After detox (if necessary), patients undergo an intensive, daily drug or alcohol treatment regimen to learn about the disease of addiction in a supportive, immersive environment.

Residential programs are safe, structured environments in which patients are removed from stressful circumstances that promote or fuel the urge to use. Because negative influences are removed from a patient’s daily experience, participants in residential treatment programs can begin to work on building life skills addiction had interfered with.

This intensive level of care makes residential treatment programs ideal for people who have unsuccessfully attempted to overcome addiction in outpatient programs or for people who know they need drug or alcohol treatment and want to “do it right” the first time. As previously stated, the level of care necessary for a patient should be determined by an in-person assessment with a qualified medical or counseling professional. While patients who have attempted outpatient programs without success often do require residential care, some patients who have not yet undergone outpatient treatment may not require this high level of care.

Some patients are wary about voluntarily beginning a residential drug or alcohol treatment program because of the intensity, but residential programs are highly emotionally supportive and focus on helping the whole body and mind through treatment. For this reason, many residential centers encourage family participation, including evening family education programs and weekend programs. In addition to immediate family, patients benefit from having a “therapeutic community” in residential treatment programs – a community of patients who support one another through treatment by encouraging others to stay on task. In addition to the other differentiators of long-term residential care, it is this camaraderie gained through empathy and shared experience that often helps patients overcome addiction while completing drug or alcohol treatment.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

ODiscreet Treatment for White-Collar Professionalsutpatient drug and alcohol treatment programs, like The Ridge’s sister facility Northland, share many similarities with residential treatment programs, but in a differently structured environment. Outpatient programs provide patients with more freedom of movement which allows them to maintain a regular commitment to family, work, and educational responsibilities. Because of the ability to go home after a daily or evening program, patients are able to have a greater level of privacy and anonymity as they often do not need to explain a prolonged residential absence to friends, coworkers, or family members.

But unlike residential treatment programs, patients are not provided with the safe, secure environment that isolates them from negative influences. Patients return to their own homes and social lives after outpatient drug or alcohol treatment, and must voluntarily abstain from drug or alcohol use, which requires a greater amount of diligence. However, the benefit of this is that outpatient programs (like residential programs) provide a support network for patients in the form of official support groups, individual counseling, and family counseling so that patients are never alone in their recovery. Patients are provided with a strong support network of non-using peers and sponsors. Outpatient drug and alcohol treatment requires a component of group therapy and support groups like NA and AA, which provide a new, positive element of social change in a patient’s life and facilitate long-term recovery.

Which Type of Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program is for You?

Medical Consultation
You and your medical or counseling professional are best equipped to know which type of treatment is ideal for your situation. Be honest with yourself about how independently dedicated you can be in an outpatient program. Do you feel like the temptations to use based on daily stresses, friends and acquaintances, or lack of social support would be an issue in successfully completing outpatient treatment? Have you tried and been unsuccessful time and time again at stopping your drug or alcohol use by yourself or in outpatient treatment? Are you unsure if you can make the financial investment required for residential care? Are you physically addicted to drugs or alcohol and absolutely require a medical detox prior to receiving treatment services?

When you speak with a specialist about voluntarily entering drug and alcohol treatment, talk about your personal circumstances in order to figure out which aspects of outpatient or residential treatment programs would best suit you. Outpatient and residential drug and alcohol treatment programs both have life-changing benefits, and understanding which program will best help you achieve long-term recovery is one of the first steps toward becoming sober.

Contact UsContact The Ridge today to set up an addiction assessment for you or a loved one. Don’t wait to get treatment. We can help find your best treatment option and get you on the road to recovery.