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Drug Treatment Programs: Inpatient vs Outpatient

When determining a type of drug treatment program, it should be borne in mind that patients have varied preferences. There are different types of drug treatment programs available to a patient, among them includes residential treatment (in-patient) program, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient program, counseling and sober living (Brook & Whitehead, 2004). This paper analyzes inpatient and outpatient drug treatment programs.

Alcohol and Drug Inpatient Treatment Program

Inpatient treatment program involves patients voluntarily entering a treatment facility where intensive drug and alcohol treatment programs are the main daily activities undertaken by the patient. More often than not, patients who have tried outpatient drug treatment programs and relapsed achieve success in residential treatment program (De Leon, 2000).

Inpatient treatment programs are characterized by safe and structured environment where patients are removed from circumstances that may increase their urge use drugs under control. Since addiction factors are out of reach to a patient in residential treatment, the patients have an opportunity to participate in building life skills that had been hampered by addiction. Due to the intensive level of care, inpatient program is the best alternative to those patients that have been unsuccessful in outpatient programs.

Some patients find it difficult to opt for inpatient alcohol and drug treatment program because of the intensity. However, inpatient programs are highly supportive and focus on body and mind treatment. Therefore, many inpatient treatment program centers include family participation like weekend family education programs. Community therapeutic programs are also encouraged in these centers whereby patients support each other to stay on programs and share their experiences (Brook & Whitehead, 2004).

Outpatient Addiction Treatment Program

Outpatient addiction treatment program share many similarities with inpatient program, but there is a difference in the structure of the environment. Patients in outpatient programs are given freedom of movement in which regular commitment to family and work is maintained. This results in patients having a higher degree of privacy and anonymity (Daley, 2001).

Unlike inpatient drug treatment program, a safe and secure environment, that shields patients from factors that influence relapse, is not provided in outpatient treatment program. Patients are therefore required to have a high level of self discipline and diligence in order to voluntarily overcome forces of influence. However, this program also provides a wide network of support for patients in form of social support groups and unlimited family counseling.

A patient should therefore involve a counseling professional to determine which type of drug treatment program is ideal for them.



Brook, R. Whitehead, P. (2004). Drug-Free Therapeutic Community: An Evaluation. New York: Human Sciences Press.

Daley C, Zuckoff A. (2001). Improving compliance with the initial outpatient session among discharged inpatient dual diagnosis clients. Social Work. 43(5):470–473.

De Leon, G. (2000).The Therapeutic Community: Theory, Model, and Method: Springer Publishers. . New York