What Is the Difference Between Outpatient and Residential Treatment?

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Basic Definitions

When entering psychiatric or addiction centers for treatment, there are varying levels of care to suit the needs of the client. Residential care is the highest level of treatment available and usually involves residing in a facility where 24-hour medical and psychiatric care is provided. Outpatient care, on the other hand, involves intensive care with as little as a few hours a day at a facility. The remainder of the time, the client returns to their usual environment.

Some outpatient facilities differ in that clients may still live in treatment approved supportive housing. For the most part, those participating in outpatient programs remain at home and can still fulfill their daily obligations while incorporating treatment into their schedules.

Is Intensive Treatment Just for Substance Abuse?

Both outpatient and residential treatment are considered intensive. Most people associate residing in a recovery center with those struggling with substance abuse problems, but most residential facilities treat high-need psychiatric patients as well. It’s always best to research the facility to learn what kinds of treatment are offered; some treatment centers specialize in certain mental illnesses and some are not equipped to treat certain disorders.

If a facility doesn’t treat your disorder, it is likely because they don’t have the staff or the resources for effective treatment, but there is a treatment center out there that is equipped.

Who Would Benefit Most From Residential Treatment?

Residential treatment is best suited for people who are in dire need of relief from their symptoms and need supervision to stay on course for their detoxification or mental health stabilization. Those who are suffering a psychotic break or who are having extreme difficulty coping in their regular lives or with their usual therapist or psychiatrist alone could benefit from the support offered at residential treatment centers.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is commonly used in residential treatment centers as a means to help clients make quick progress and experience relief from debilitating symptoms. Especially in the case of substance use, MAT can help a person lower their opioid use incrementally without experiencing the side effects of withdrawal. Medication-assisted treatment has also been proven effective in reducing the rate of relapse.

Who Would Benefit Most From Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment requires varying levels of commitment. Some outpatient care involves daily sessions or multiple sessions a week at a treatment center. Some may require a partial hospitalization treatment option, meaning it is a step closer to residential treatment in intensity.

Outpatient care is usually reserved for those who are not a danger to themselves or others, or for those who have completed a residential treatment program. Ideally, someone who is undergoing outpatient treatment has a substantial support system around them. Outpatient care can be a first step or the next step in the series of treatment options. It is effective as a second step after residential treatment because its blended schedule helps clients to integrate back into their daily lives while receiving support for old and new triggers that come when introducing work and family back into their lives.

How Effective Are Treatment Centers?

The effectiveness of treatment centers is often dependent on the length of stay. There may be many obstacles that lead to non-completion of treatment, but the rate of relapse is higher for those who don’t complete their stay. Those who remain and accomplish their treatment goals have more positive outcomes at follow-up appointments after leaving treatment. For this reason, the support of family and friends is a major factor in a person’s substance use recovery or mental health progress. Encouraging a loved one to graduate from their treatment program and continue to have contact with a primary therapist could help keep them on track for recovery.

Continuing care is another aspect of treatment that could affect long-term sobriety and symptom management. Continuing care means that a client doesn’t have a lapse in care after leaving one program or therapist. When a person moves from residential treatment to outpatient treatment, this is continuing care.  When a person continues to receive support from their primary therapist and is given resources to grow outside of intensive treatment, this also continued care.

Treatment centers are tools that can be effective for anyone, but they are most effective for people in these categories:

  • Those who have a community of friends or family to support them.
  • Those who have strong reasons and motivation to stay sober and mentally healthy.
  • Those who are willing to stay in treatment with their primary therapist.
  • Those who are willing to practice at-home self-care techniques.
  • Those who are willing to stay on prescribed medications.

Not all treatment centers are the same, and some may be more effective than others for helping you achieve your goals.

Treatment at Casa Recovery is built to help you attain your treatment goals while providing a supportive community to take with you for the rest of your life. Continuing care is key at Casa Recovery, and if you are hesitant to start a program because you fear you can’t maintain it, then let the quality of our program speak for itself. Whether looking to recover from addiction or manage your mental health symptoms, Casa Recovery has the staff and resources to help you achieve your goals.  We can promise that our program won’t try to force a cookie-cutter solution on you but will put you in charge of your own journey and collaborate with you on crafting a treatment program that will help you excel. With community support, education, life skills, and coping strategies as part of our treatment program, you will leave Casa Recovery prepared to tackle life’s challenges and stay healthy.  Call Casa Recovery at (888) 928-2272.

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