Outpatient Treatment Versus Inpatient Treatment: What’s Best for My Daughter?

The damaging effects of drugs and alcohol know no bounds, harming young and old alike. What may start out as casual fun can quickly turn into an all-out lifestyle where drugs are involved. For parents, it can be heartbreaking to watch as your child falls prey to the pull of drugs and alcohol. When a drug problem develops, the sooner your child gets the level of support and guidance she needs the better. The choice between outpatient treatment versus inpatient treatment is an important one since it will determine the level of care your daughter receives.

Outpatient and inpatient treatment programs offer two different approaches for helping individuals overcome addiction. Choosing the right program for your daughter will depend on a range of factors, including the severity of her addiction and the effects addiction has had in her life. Read on to see how these programs differ and find out how to determine which treatment approach is best for your daughter.

How Addiction Works

Addictive substances, be it alcohol, heroin or cocaine, all have one thing in common: they’re all able to interact with the brain’s chemical system. This ability to interact means drugs can actually change how the brain’s chemical system works over time. While different types of addictive substances do this in different ways, the overall effect remains the same.

Addictive, mind-altering substances gain easy access to the brain’s system because of their chemical makeup. For instance, opiates contain substances that closely resemble a few of the brain’s neurotransmitter chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. When ingested, opiates not only interact with the areas of the brain that produce these chemicals but also stimulate neurotransmitter production.

Before long, the brain becomes unable to produce needed levels of these neurotransmitters without the drug’s effect. At this point, the brain has become physically dependent on the drug to function normally. Over time, physical dependence evolves into a psychological dependence. With psychological dependence, the drug’s effects are the only thing that motivates a person’s motivations, behaviors and thinking. Once psychological dependence takes hold, a full-blown addiction is at work.

The Main Difference Between Outpatient and Inpatient Treatment

The main difference between outpatient and inpatient treatment lies in the level of support each program offers. Level of support has to do with:

  • Level of monitoring and supervision
  • How each program is structured
  • The degree of responsibility the patient has

Inpatient programs operate as live-in treatment facilities. Patients are monitored around the clock. These programs also follow strict schedules where patients are required to attend intensive therapy, 12-step meetings along with other types of treatment interventions. Patients also receive medical care and mental health care.

Outpatient programs do not operate as live-in facilities. Patients live at home, attend school and work while attending scheduled treatment sessions two to five times a week. The treatment interventions used in outpatient programs are mostly the same as those used in inpatient care. The only difference is program participants must be willing to apply what they learn in treatment within their daily lives.

Your Daughter’s Condition Determines Which Program Will Work Best

As a general rule, the longer a drug abuse problem persists the greater the need for intensive treatment care. This is especially the case for the more hardcore drugs like heroin and cocaine or crack. The longer abuse continues the more damage that’s done to the brain’s chemical system. As this damage intensifies, a person’s ability to control drug-using and drug-seeking behaviors diminishes.

In effect, your daughter’s daily behaviors are the best clues as to which program will best meet her treatment needs. The following signs/behaviors indicate a need for inpatient treatment care:

  • Your daughter’s daily hygiene and personal care habits have declined
  • Problems with the law, such as DUIs
  • She’s lost interest in activities that she used to enjoy
  • Her academic performance has declined
  • She skips school on a regular basis
  • Relationships with friends and family have suffered

Outpatient care should only be considered if your daughter’s overall lifestyle is still intact, meaning she still attends school, still spends time with friends and can still meet her daily responsibilities. Ultimately, the more control drugs have over your daughter’s choices and behaviors the greater the need for intensive treatment supports.

If you have more questions or need information on how to get started, call us today at 800-737-0933 to speak with one of our program counselors.