While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to treating addiction, there are some commonly held ideologies on the best course of treatment. Generally speaking, addiction treatment most often starts with detox, then proceeds to inpatient treatment, which is followed by various types of outpatient treatment. Some individuals try and skip the first two steps and rely on outpatient treatment alone. While that may be adequate for a few, the truth is, outpatient treatment alone is rarely effective on its own.
In order for an individual to begin to address their addiction, they first need to be completely free of the mind and mood-altering substances they have developed an addiction to. In some cases this can just be highly uncomfortable and in others, it can be life-threatening. This is why it is best done in a licensed facility that can provide monitoring, care and even medication or medical treatment if necessary. Once detox is complete, the next step in addiction treatment is generally some time in an inpatient facility.
Why is inpatient treatment so important?
Individuals that struggle with addiction have spent months, if not years, developing habits and patterns that support their addiction. In addition, individuals that struggle with addiction often have messy, complicated, sometimes volatile relationships. Often it is these volatile relationships that will eventually send them to seek treatment more than anything else. For a treatment to truly be effective, however, it is important that individuals struggling with addiction get a full and complete break from the routines, habits, patterns and relationships that support, facilitate or even exacerbate their addictive habits.
Outpatient treatment is generally meant to be a follow-up to inpatient treatment, not a substitute for it. While there are a few situations in which outpatient treatment might be effective without a stay in an inpatient facility it is simply a much harder and generally less effective way to undergo treatment. In some cases, inpatient treatment may simply not be an option for some individuals, so outpatient treatment alone is better than no treatment, but it is never an optimal course of treatment by itself.
Why outpatient treatment depends on inpatient treatment
Inpatient treatment is designed to be a complete and total interruption in an individual’s habits, patterns and general life. The more of in interruption treatment creates, the better a chance an individual stands of adequately addressing their addiction. For this reason, many individuals do best at an out-of-state inpatient facility. In addition, as much as it should not be the case, there is still a great deal of shame surrounding addiction in America. When an individual feels shamed for seeking treatment – or even having an addiction issue in the first place – it can significantly hinder their progress or even send them right back into their addiction.
By going to an out-of-state facility, an individual has the option of sharing their struggle with people they feel safe sharing it with and keeping it hidden from anyone they feel might actually harm their healing. Once inpatient treatment has been concluded elsewhere, they can undergo outpatient treatment as they learn to reconnect with their life. If they don’t undergo the disconnect to break old habits and patterns, however, it is much harder to successfully reconnect in a healthy way.
Outpatient treatment provides support and accountability
Individuals that struggle with addiction have generally spent years of their lives in a drug or alcohol induced fog or haze. Life can be a harsh, cruel place and addicted individuals have generally made their way through it in the soft cocoon of their addiction. The world doesn’t get any softer or easier when they let go of this sheltering cocoon, so they have to find entirely new ways of navigating it and managing it.
Individuals overcoming addiction often have to learn to set boundaries and have painful and difficult conversations without the aid of a soothing agent to get them through it. This is where outpatient therapy can help. Inpatient treatment provides a break from their old habits, patterns, behaviors and relationships and acts as a kind of “reset button.” The purpose of inpatient treatment is to create a smooth, blank canvas to paint a new picture on in outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment will almost always be far less effective without this blank canvas to paint a new picture on.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, we can help. Call us today at 800-737-0933.