Battling a substance abuse disorder alone can be a challenging and isolating experience. There are still many stigmas around addiction and unfortunately, many people don’t access the help they need. The good news is, there are a number of treatment options to suit your specific recovery requirements and goals.
Depending on your personal circumstances and your physical and mental health history, you can choose an appropriate treatment method for you. Two of the main treatment modalities are inpatient and outpatient. While these terms might be familiar, it can be complex to understand the differences and specifics of each. If you are considering entering treatment, discussing the options with your health care provider is crucial.
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The UK Context
The United Kingdom has a wide spread substance abuse problem, with studies finding it has the highest rates of drug use in Europe. The most recent research from the UK government found that there were 275,896 adults in contact with substance (alcohol and drug) services between April 2020 and March 2021.
The most commonly abused substance by those seeking treatment are opiates, with 51% of adults found to be using these drugs. Alcohol is the second most prevalently abused substance, with 28% of adults in treatment for alcohol addiction. Of 110,095 individuals who left treatment in this time period, 50% left having successfully completed their programme, substance free.
Inpatient rehab is often the most intensive treatment offered in addiction recovery. This is where the individual stays in the facility for the entirety of their programme. They will sleep, eat, and spend their free time in the centre, in addition to receiving all of their therapeutic and medical care there. This model of treatment gives clients access to round-the-clock care and emotional support. These can prove vital in the initial days of recovery.
Recovery from addiction typically starts with a medically supervised detox, allowing individuals to rid their body of toxins prior to working through their psychological dependence. In an inpatient setting, the detox process is monitored by expert clinicians which means any uncomfortable or distressing withdrawal symptoms can be eased.
Inpatient treatment generally requires a considerable time commitment, but it is the safest and most reliable option for those in recovery for substance dependence.
Some of the benefits of choosing inpatient treatment include:
- Round-the-clock medical support: Inpatient treatment enables you to recover in a safe environment, staffed by expert clinicians who are ready to intervene where needed.
- Removal of triggers: Being away from the environment in which you used substances reduces the chances of relapse. Staying in a safe facility allows you to avoid triggers and communities of drug users.
- Holistic care: Given that you spend such a considerable amount of time in the treatment facility, you are likely to be offered sessions in addition to your medical and psychological therapy. This could include life skill sessions, understanding about healthy eating, physical health care, and emotional regulation workshops.
- An established routine: Coming out of a long period of addiction can impact your whole way of life. It can be difficult to establish any sort of routine. Inpatient treatment can support you to establish a structure and set you up for a healthier future.
Who is Suitable for Inpatient Care?
Factors which could make somebody eligible for inpatient treatment include the following:
- A history of addiction or substance abuse
- Co-existing mental health issues
- Poor physical health
- A vulnerable or unsafe home environment
Outpatient treatment is often chosen for its flexible nature. This method is milder than inpatient and gives the individual more independence and freedom with their time. Outpatient care fits around your own schedule, which means you can access treatment without interrupting your personal commitments. For some people, this provides the most productive method of recovery.
Outpatient rehab usually brings together a combination of medical and behavioural therapy. You are likely to commit to a number of scheduled appointments per week, and sometimes you may have extra sessions or work to do outside of therapy.
Outpatient rehab allows you to continue with certain areas of your daily life, such as school, university, or a job. Importantly, these activities must be trigger-free and low stress. For example, it would be unbeneficial for somebody undergoing detox to continue working in a bar or a club where alcohol and drugs are present.
Some of the benefits of choosing outpatient treatment include:
- Flexibility: Addiction can be an extremely disempowering experience, so maintaining some independence and autonomy can benefit some people in their recovery process by boosting their self-esteem.
- Maintaining connections: Strong and healthy relationships are a crucial element in getting and staying sober. For those who have good connections in their home community, outpatient treatment allows them to maintain these bonds.
- Fulfilling commitments: Due to the complex stigma, addiction is often associated with feelings of guilt and shame. Being able to continue fulfilling responsibilities – be that at work, school, or relationships – can keep people on the right track. Additionally it removes the stress of how things might have changed when you return to your former duties.
- Anxiety reduction: During outpatient treatment you always maintain some sense of independence, and this can be beneficial when treatment comes to an end so the during and after treatment won’t be so juxtaposing.
Who is Suitable for Outpatient Care?
Factors which could make somebody eligible for outpatient treatment include the following:
- A supportive home-life
- A mild or relatively short-lived addiction
- No underlying mental health issues
- No underlying physical health issues
There are a number of benefits in choosing outpatient treatment, but usually your doctor will need to see evidence of a trusting relationship between you before approving this method of treatment.
Your Unique Addiction Recovery
The bottom line is, this is your recovery and no two journeys are the same. If you are considering treatment, talk things through with a medical professional. Treatment should be tailored to your specific needs, and your wellbeing should be prioritised. Don’t make compromises when it comes to your health.