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Inpatient Treatment

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Addiction is a complex brain disease that affects millions of people every year and can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, occupation, or financial status.1 Though the condition can be debilitating, addiction is treatable. Treatment has helped many people struggling with addiction to live a life without compulsive substance use.

When diagnosed by a medical professional, addiction is more commonly known as a substance use disorder (SUD). Substance use disorders are characterized by compulsive use of a substance despite the ample substance-related problems such use leads to.2, 3

There are several different types of treatment available to help people recover from addiction. Effective treatment is commonly tailored to a person’s individual needs.7 With a person-centered approach to treatment, teams can support both the physical health and mental well-being of a person.7 If you or a loved one are looking at treatment options, this article will help you learn more about what inpatient rehabilitation is and how it can be effective.

What is an Inpatient Rehab Treatment Program?

Inpatient rehab programs offer structured, around the clock support and supervision for people with substance use disorders.1 An inpatient drug or alcohol rehabilitation setting allows a person to live full-time at a treatment facility as they receive care and begin recovery.1

Behavioral therapy is often at the center of many treatment programs. During an inpatient program, you may participate in both individual therapy and group counseling sessions. Utilizing a variety of behavioral therapeutic approaches, your treatment team will help you learn why addiction develops, what contributes to continued/compulsive substance use, and what you can do to help yourself have a new, drug- or alcohol-free life.

Inpatient rehab treatment programs offer a high level of care, which often includes:1, 2

  • 24-hour supervision and support in a safe environment.
  • Time away from home environment to concentrate on your well-being.
  • Behavioral therapies (e.g., individual, family, group).
  • Medication-assisted therapy.
  • Medically assisted detoxification (detox).
  • Services to address any significant social, vocational, and legal issues.
  • Access to medical and mental health care services, when needed.

Types of Inpatient Treatment Programs

Residential or inpatient rehab programs may differ in their level of structure, intensity, and duration of treatment depending on your treatment needs. There are several options so that you can find the program that’s right for you:1, 2, 6

  • Relatively low-intensity residential programs: 24-hour structure and living accommodations with several hours of clinical services per week.
  • Higher intensity medically monitored inpatient services: 24-hour care with physician access for medical management of withdrawal as well as treatment attention for other mental and medical health issues that require inpatient care.
  • Short-term rehab programs: Often, the short-term focus at the start of any inpatient or residential program will be on detox and withdrawal management, with preparation for additional post-detox treatment. It may differ in level of structure, intensity, and duration of treatment (e.g., 30-day, 60-day, or more when necessary).
  • Long-term residential treatment programs: Stays are typically over 30 days and focus on helping a person develop personal accountability and responsibility before entering back into their communities. Long-term treatment includes 24-hour, structured, intensive care, and may also include therapeutic communities, which can last anywhere from 6 to 12 months.
  • Recovery housing: Supervised, short-term housing, lasting several months to a year or more to help people maintain their recovery momentum after residential treatment.

What’s the Difference Between Inpatient and Residential Treatment?

Though the concepts of inpatient and residential treatment often overlap, the term inpatient sometimes can reference a more clinically intensive treatment versus residential settings. Both require the person to stay overnight in the facility with monitoring and support, though inpatient efforts may focus more on medically managing detoxification, addressing certain medical issues, and providing services for emotional, behavioral, or mental health conditions.1 

With this distinction in mind, a period of inpatient detox and medical withdrawal management may be shorter than the full length of stay in ongoing residential treatment. Though treatment times will vary for each individual, such a period of relatively intensive inpatient treatment might be expected to last from a few days to a few weeks. On the other hand, residential care may more commonly last from a few weeks to several months depending on the needs of the individual.1

Is Detox a Part of Inpatient Rehab?

Detox is often an important first phase of treatment and, given certain types of withdrawal risks, may take place in an inpatient setting to ensure safe management of any withdrawal symptoms.5

Depending on the type of substance a person is detoxing from, withdrawal symptoms may differ.12 There are different types of detoxification protocols for different substances as well as different treatment settings to consider for rehab. Not all settings are appropriate for everyone. Some people may need 24-hour care during the detoxification process while others may not.12

There are several levels of professional detox care, spanning both outpatient and inpatient settings. Though outpatient detox may include medications and medical monitoring to assess withdrawal progress, medically managed and monitored detox frequently takes place in inpatient/residential settings.

In such a setting, treatment teams are able to provide 24-hour supervision, observation, and support for people who are actively intoxicated or experiencing acute withdrawal. These levels of care may be able to offer the most intensive range of services to help stabilize patients and keep them safe while managing the sometimes-risky withdrawal period.5

What’s the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab?

One of the biggest differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab is that inpatient rehab requires overnight stays at the facility. Deciding which setting is right for you or your loved one depends on multiple factors, and treatment must be tailored to individual needs.1, 4

The following 6 criteria are used to help determine whether an inpatient setting or an outpatient setting is most appropriate for treatment:14

  1. Level of intoxication and potential for withdrawal symptoms
  2. Presence of other medical conditions
  3. Presence of other emotional, behavioral, or cognitive issues
  4. Readiness or motivation to change
  5. Risk of relapse or continued drug use
  6. Recovery environment (e.g., family, peers, school, legal system)

Is Inpatient Rehabilitation Effective?

There is no one-size-fits-all for rehab, so effective treatment truly depends on proper assessment for the appropriate level of care. The most effective treatment regimen will address all the needs of the person, not just the addiction. Inpatient rehab typically provides many options for treatment services that can be tailored to an individual’s needs and substance of abuse.7

How to Choose Inpatient Rehab

Choosing to enter rehab is an important first step in recovery. If you or a loved one are considering rehab, it may be helpful to speak with a doctor, therapist, or other treatment professional to receive an assessment of your needs and treatment options.

If inpatient rehab is recommended by a clinical professional, you may want to consider a few factors when choosing a facility. The following questions and considerations may be helpful when looking for inpatient treatment.

What Types of Addiction Do Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab Facilities Treat?

Most facilities treat a variety of substances; however, some centers specialize in treatment for specific substances or for certain groups. When looking for an inpatient treatment center, ask what substances they treat and what services they offer to make sure you receive the proper level of care.

Do Inpatient Rehabs Have Specialized Treatment Programs?

Many facilities offer specialized programs that cater to certain populations, including, but not limited to:

  • Gender-specific
  • LGBTQ+
  • Mental health
  • Pregnant women
  • Veterans
  • Substance-specific

What Types of Therapy Does Inpatient Offer?

There are several evidence-based approaches to addiction treatment.1 Many inpatient rehab programs utilize a variety of behavioral therapeutic interventions to promote your recovery. Many of these therapeutic techniques that are introduced during your stay are intended to be used after inpatient treatment, either on your own, or continued with your doctor, therapist, or counselor.

Active participation with a full range of behavioral treatments can help people learn about their addictions, engage in their recovery plan, improve coping skills, and resist relapse. Here are a few commonly used behavioral therapies offered by many inpatient rehabs:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) involves the use of several interventions that can be used in a group or by an individual. They can help a person think through a situation (anticipate problems) and change previous, unhealthy behaviors (using substances) to newer, healthier behaviors (using coping skills) to stay alcohol and drug-free.8
  • Motivational interviewing/Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) addresses motivation to change and recognizes doubts about behavior change while strengthening motivation and building a change plan.4, 8
  • Contingency management (CM) is a reward program for individuals who reach important goals in treatment and demonstrate abstinence.8
  • Relapse prevention (RP) is a therapy that helps identify cues to drug use and trains people to respond in an alternate way to their personal triggers.8

What Credentials and Licensing Does the Facility Have?

Addiction treatment is highly specialized, and many treatment professionals and facilities are licensed and credentialed to provide addiction services that meet certain requirements. Licensure means the organization has met all safety standards and staffs licensed professionals to provide medical services, individual and group therapy, education, and addiction treatment planning.9

Many facilities seek out accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). CARF is an international, independent accreditor of health and human services, including behavioral health, child and youth services, and opioid treatment programs.10 CARF accreditation provides assurance for people seeking services that the agency has passed the highest quality standards from a third-party who oversees treatment facilities.10

How Long is Inpatient Rehab?

Inpatient rehab length of stay varies depending on the individual’s progress, medical needs, mental healthcare needs, insurance, etc. Generally, though, inpatient rehab can last from a few weeks to a few months but may be longer if necessary. Though any amount of treatment is likely to provide some benefit, treatment lengths of 90 days or more (which may include a period of inpatient rehab) have been associated with more positive treatment outcomes.11

Can Family Visit Me in Inpatient Rehab?

Family visits need to be arranged with the facility, and some facilities may offer family therapy and other services to support recovery. Family therapy can be useful in helping to bring about change in family systems where drug abuse and other problems persist.13

How Much Does Inpatient Rehab Cost?

The cost of inpatient rehab varies based on multiple factors, including:

  • Level of care.
  • Insurance coverage.
  • Additional services provided (e.g., medical, psychiatric, physical therapy, medication therapy).

Insurance carriers have different benefits and different plans, so it’s important to verify insurance coverage with your provider and/or treatment facility to make sure you’re covered.

Factors that may affect insurance coverage:

  • Health plan type.
  • Type of addictive substance(s).
  • The severity of addiction (e.g., number of relapses, medical/mental complications from using substances/withdrawal, legal trouble).
  • The provider (geographic location, in-network plan).

If you or a loved one needs help for an addiction, you are not alone; recovery is possible. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is here to help you find a treatment program that will meet you where you are at.

Our admissions navigators are ready to take your call 24/7 and assist you in understanding treatment options. Call (877) 805-8875 to get started on the recovery journey.

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Dr. Thomas received his medical degree from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. During his medical studies, Dr. Thomas saw firsthand the multitude of lives impacted by struggles with substance abuse and addiction, motivating him to seek a clinical psychiatry preceptorship at the San Diego VA Hospital’s Inpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program. In his post-graduate clinical work, Dr. Thomas later applied the tenets he learned to help guide his therapeutic approach with many patients in need of substance treatment. In his current capacity as Senior Medical Editor for American Addiction Centers, Dr. Thomas, works to provide accurate, authoritative information to those seeking help for substance abuse and behavioral health issues.
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