Making the decision to get treatment for substance use disorder is a courageous one, so if you or a loved one is starting this journey, we congratulate you. Taking the next step to determine what type of treatment center is right for you involves numerous considerations—including whether to try an inpatient rehabilitation facility or an outpatient program.
For most people, the final choice comes down to the type of care needed, and this is an essential factor. For some individuals, a thorough, medically-supervised detoxification may be necessary right from the start to begin the healing process. Others might seek refuge from toxic environments to connect with themselves more assuredly.
Some inpatient care programs last just 2-4 weeks, while others may last three months or longer. Length of stay depends on the facility, a resident’s continuum of care plan, and of course, improvement through treatment. But even short-term programs of up to 30 days provide many benefits and can make a difference between struggling unnecessarily and starting a new path in life that’s progressive, happier, and full of possibility.
Advantages of Short-Term Inpatient Care
The first advantage of short-term inpatient care is recognizing the commitment you’re making to ensure a positive outcome.
Maybe you have an employer that provides an unpaid but protected leave of absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and the time investment you make to set that up prepares you for the changes ahead. Perhaps family members and friends bond together to ensure other aspects of your life are taken care of, such as child care, home responsibilities, insurance, and financial needs, allowing you to focus on wellness without concern about other things. Because of these aspects, your sense of commitment is solidified.
Conversely, maybe you’re in a position where deep-down, you understand that life will get far worse if you don’t commit to improving your health now. You believe that entering inpatient treatment is the best way to remove all distractions, stressors, and negative influences—and excuses—to properly care for yourself.
Other advantages of a short-term inpatient stay include:
- Access to medically-managed detoxification, if necessary
- 24-hour care by professionals who understand what you’re going through and are ready to help, especially in the early stages of recovery
- The opportunity to stay discreet if you’re in a profession or community where this is beneficial or mandatory
- A daily structure, which allows for greater stability
- The opportunity to get involved with different levels of therapy, group sessions, family counseling, and 12-Step and other support meetings. Professionals will also use this time to identify co-occurring disorders and help you learn the origins of addiction and new skills for managing emotions and changing behaviors
- A chance to learn about holistic recovery options and the daily utilization of proper diet and exercise to make sobriety easier
- Development of a relapse prevention plan and a continuum of care plan
- Less expensive than consecutive-month stays, but with many of the same services and resources
According to 2019 statistics compiled by Purdue University, more than 21 million people in the U.S. need substance abuse treatment—that’s one person out of 13—but only 19 percent sought rehabilitative care.
One of the most challenging aspects of getting treatment is simply starting. So basically, even a 2-4 week stay makes a difference because it enables you to learn about the process, have access to quality medical care, and follow through on changing your life for the better.
Disadvantages of a Short Inpatient Stay
Unfortunately, there are also some disadvantages to short-term inpatient treatment, such as:
- If substance abuse is compounded by other chronic health conditions, a short-term stay might not be enough to address and stabilize them
- Affordability, as even shorter residential programs are more expensive than outpatient care
- An inability to take time off work through FMLA because your employer isn’t covered under the Act; or incurring financial hardship if you’re without income for 2-4 weeks during treatment
- Insurance won’t cover any length of inpatient stay
- There’s not a network of family and friends to help take care of children and other responsibilities while you’re away
- Transitioning back to “real life” might pose more challenges if certain causation factors and behaviors aren’t addressed during counseling
Knowing about some of these challenges ahead of time may help you find solutions—one of which might be to start your recovery with an outpatient program first. Whatever route you choose, trust that seeking professional help for substance abuse is the right decision.
Let Your New Life Begin Now
If you or a loved one is ready to start the recovery process, our helpful admission coordinators are available to consult with you on the treatment process at Willingway, including connecting you with a staff physician or certified addiction counselor. This professional can help you choose which program is right for your goals and current situation.