Beyond the Hospital Walls: Exploring the Upsides and Downsides of Outpatient Care

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Because addiction is a horrible illness, medical treatment should begin as soon as feasible. There are essentially two types of treatment available: inpatient and outpatient. One of the most significant benefits of outpatient therapy is the ability to easily return to a more normal way of life. However, outpatient care also comes with various drawbacks, including the need for heightened vigilance to avoid triggers that might lead to a relapse.

What is Outpatient Care?

Outpatient care is the type of treatment plan that does not require the patient to spend the night in a hospital or other medical institution. A patient undergoing treatment is not required to remain at the clinic where the procedure is performed to get follow-up care or monitoring. It is available in multiple forms, including residential programs wherein the patients live in the community but are free to continue their normal lives.

Pros of Outpatient Care

It is Less Expensive Than the Alternative Option

Because the patient is not expected to spend as much time at the treatment center, outpatient therapy is often less costly than inpatient care. Furthermore, operations that may be done in an outpatient setting are often easier than those that must be performed in a hospital. This is mainly because patients in outpatient care are not required to pay hospital admission fees.

During Treatment, Patients' Lives May Go On as Usual

One of the numerous advantages of getting treatment in an outpatient environment is that patients can usually go about their everyday lives, including work or school. They can leave the hospital bed and receive medical equipment at home. The doctor in charge of the outpatient operations may urge the patient to resume regular activities. Furthermore, having a consistent source of income helps to relieve the financial pressure that may be associated with paying for outpatient treatment.

Patients Get More One-On-One Time with Counselors

Because outpatient groups are frequently small, patients do not have to share the counselor with many other clients. Many individuals also find that discussing their most intimate thoughts and emotions with fewer people makes them feel more at ease. The fact that you are ready to talk about your addiction and share your experiences may speed up your recovery.

It Offers Different Tiers of Care

Within an outpatient program, there are several alternatives for treatment intensity. This allows individuals to customize their therapy experience. If a person is having difficulty, they may go up to a higher level of care or move down to a lower level if they believe they are making progress.

It Allows Patients to Form Communities with One Another

In an outpatient program, people in recovery can meet friends who will continue with them throughout their recovery journey. Meeting people in one’s neighborhood is a terrific approach to expanding one’s social circle in a specific location. This contrasts with the temporary bonds that might build in the hospital during inpatient care.

Family Support

Outpatient treatment allows family members to participate in every healing stage. The knowledge that they have a team to support them inspires patients to heal faster from their addiction.

Cons of Outpatient Care

There is Less Support for Medical Detox

Outpatient addiction therapy may be challenging since people are expected to rehabilitate independently. Many outpatient addicts cannot effectively detox independently and may need medical intervention.

It’s hardly surprising that most individuals don’t have all the medications and equipment required for medical detoxes in their homes. So, if your loved one requires medical detox, they may not be a good choice for outpatient treatment.

Outpatient Care is More Difficult to Carry Out

Even if patients select outpatient treatment, they will almost always need transportation to and from the facility. For example, patients using pain relievers as part of an outpatient treatment plan may have cognitive and motor impairments due to the drug’s side effects. When an outpatient patient wakes after hospital anesthesia, they may feel sluggish and have trouble quickly resuming normal activities such as walking. Also, the person giving outpatient therapy, or a hired nurse or caregiver, may also need to remain overnight with the patient to assist them with daily tasks they cannot accomplish independently.

There is Minimal Supervision

Outpatient programs do not offer round-the-clock monitoring. And as such, outpatient therapy may not be appropriate for someone whose behavior has become unpredictable or unsafe due to their mental health or addiction. If a loved one is ambivalent about recovery or if their conduct is so unpredictable and the consequences of a slip-up are so severe that they need daily monitoring, inpatient or residential treatment will likely be required until more stability can be attained. This is especially true if the stakes are high enough that any mistake may be catastrophic.

Outpatient Care is Less Intense

Even though outpatient therapy may be beneficial, it cannot compete with the intensity of inpatient treatment. With inpatient care, patients are more likely to participate in rehabilitation programs since they cannot leave the institution while getting treatment. They, for example, often attend group treatment sessions and consult with their advisers. Some patients in outpatient care get medical detoxification at home, which is more difficult to do in an outpatient environment.

The Treatment Schedule Lacks a Structure

Many people who use drugs daily have erratic schedules; for example, some may prefer to sleep during the day and be more active at night. Staff at inpatient rehabilitation institutions know this, so they schedule meetings and other activities at certain times of the day. Users must attend these appointments to get their lives back on track. But this is not the case with outpatient care.

Requires Family Involvement

Living with loved ones during recovery may aggravate the patient’s anxiety, particularly if they live in an unstable or unsupportive environment at home. Working, going to school, or caring for children and other family members may make it difficult to concentrate on therapy.

Exposure to Bad Influences

Significantly more individuals are likely to be exposed to negative influences that may impact their mental health with outpatient care. Those who lack a solid social network at home are more likely to resort to alcohol and drug use as coping mechanisms if they can get these substances.

Fewer Resources

Inpatient patients have easier access to mental health providers than outpatient patients. If you’re having a bad day, you’re unlikely to be able to seek assistance or counsel until your next planned session. This implies that patients may have to depend on ineffective self-care approaches to seek home care.

Making a Decision

The simplest strategy for choosing the treatment plan that will work for you is to read about its benefits and drawbacks. Choosing the right treatment plan that best suits your schedule may help to improve the chances of recovery. 

At New Hope Healthcare, we understand the dilemma that addiction patients face when choosing the treatment option that is best suited for them. We can help you make the right decision about your treatment options. Contact us today.

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