Inpatient Treatment for Addiction: Pros, Cons & Costs (2023)

What is Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment takes place in a secure hospital setting. This treatment is appropriate for people who require medical oversight during detox.

People at these facilities receive constant medical, emotional, and addiction support during their live-in treatment. They receive targeted support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Often, a person at an inpatient rehab center will have an assigned single or shared room. They may eat in groups and regularly attend one-on-one or group therapy sessions.

Inpatient vs. Residential Care

Inpatient treatment and residential care are similar but have some key differences. People live, eat, and sleep in residential treatment, but onsite medical care is less comprehensive than inpatient rehab.

To attend residential or inpatient treatment, a person must check themselves into a facility full time. They then become a full-time treatment center resident. For example, a person going into delirium tremens (DTs), or severe withdrawal, needs inpatient care, not residential treatment.

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Who Needs Inpatient Treatment?

Residential treatment best works for someone struggling with significant addiction and substance abuse. It’s also a good option if the person’s home environment is problematic or unsafe.

It is very difficult for someone new to recovery to abstain from drugs and alcohol when they are readily available at home. This is also true if other household members are regularly using them.

Signing up for inpatient rehab may allow people to escape their everyday triggers and stressors for a more focused recovery.

How Do Inpatient Programs Work?

Inpatient treatment programs create a haven for people struggling with substance and alcohol abuse. Often, attendees will bring a small bag of personal items with them.

While in treatment, connection to the outside world is kept at a minimum. Most facilities don't even allow the use of cell phones. Some participants may even consider texting or messaging their dealers to supply them when they get strung out in the early days of rehab.

One of the first steps in inpatient addiction treatment is to assess the person’s goals. Next, a staff member will create an intensive daily schedule full of therapies and activities to keep them busy. Often, there will also be time for relaxation and reflection.

When needed, inpatient rehab can help administer and manage medications. They will also help people overcome withdrawals and assist in detoxing.

The goal of an inpatient treatment plan is complete recovery with little to no chance of relapse post-rehab.

How Long Are Inpatient Programs?

The average stay at inpatient addiction centers is 28 days.1 However, most inpatient drug and alcohol rehab centers also offer 30, 60, or 90-day programs. Studies show spending more time at a facility may benefit long-term recovery.

Research indicates people struggling with addiction need at least 3 months in a treatment program for the best chance of making a full recovery.2 This includes the initial inpatient treatment followed by ongoing outpatient and aftercare.

Aftercare Planning

Addiction treatment aftercare is a plan created to help people in their early recovery avoid relapse and move forward with a post-treatment program. Often, these plans incorporate activities, therapy, and resources to help them navigate sobriety.4

Addiction aftercare plans also aim to help people avoid triggers, stressors, and cravings that could lead to a relapse.

As predicted, the risk of relapsing after inpatient rehab is at its highest in the first couple of months post addiction treatment.3 The longer people maintain sobriety and abstinence, the easier it is going forward. This makes aftercare planning incredibly important to a person’s road to full recovery.

Most residential treatment programs suggest that an adult person stays engaged in their aftercare plan for at least one year. Most programs recommend ‘90 in 90’ or 90 AA meetings in the first 90 days, followed by ‘180 in 180.’

Many successful recovering alcoholics attend at least one meeting every day for the first year or more. Adolescents often need more prolonged aftercare than adults.5

An aftercare plan may include:

  • Participating in a rehab facility’s alumni program
  • Consistent communication with a sponsor
  • Attending 12-step group meetings or another form of recovery meetings
  • Starting new hobbies to stay busy
  • Moving into a sober living housing program
  • Attending one-on-one or group therapy sessions
  • Constructing a relapse prevention plan to help manage when triggered

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment programs are different from outpatient treatment programs.

Outpatient treatment is a form of rehab that helps people overcome addiction by allowing them to maintain a normal lifestyle. While inpatient treatment requires people to live full-time in the facility, outpatient treatment doesn’t.

Without the need to be in a facility full time, people in outpatient treatment can continue life somewhat normally. For example, they can keep going to school, working a job, and maintaining relationships while attending an outpatient treatment program.

Outpatient rehab programs are ideal for those struggling with less severe addiction or substance abuse. Ideally, they don’t need 24/7 intervention. Additionally, outpatient treatment is a good option for a person attending who already has a safe and secure home life.

Outpatient treatments can also be used as an aftercare plan when people leave inpatient treatment centers. In this case, outpatient rehab may help them assemble back into everyday life at a slower pace than post-inpatient care.

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Pros and Cons of Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatments have both pros and cons. Whether an inpatient program is the right choice depends on each person’s situation and the level of care needed for recovery.

Pros of inpatient treatment:

  • They’re more intense than outpatient rehab and can be effective for someone who needs more severe addiction treatment
  • Nurses can oversee medical detox services when necessary
  • People don’t have to worry as much about triggers that may cause relapse because they must always remain in the facility

Cons of inpatient treatment:

  • Inpatient rehab is more expensive than outpatient addiction treatment
  • People aren’t able to tend to any responsibilities during their stay
  • Leaving the inpatient facility can shock their system and lead to relapses

Deciding if an inpatient program is right for you depends on your level of substance abuse, financial situation, and the type of care needed.

While outpatient and residential treatment are different, both can be effective ways to help with addiction recovery.

How Much Does Inpatient Treatment Cost?

A 30-day stay at a residential treatment center will cost around $6,000, but prices can skyrocket for more well-known facilities. Some centers can charge up to $20,000 for a month-long stay.

For those looking to attend 60 or 90-day programs, the price can be between $12,000 and $80,000. For high-profile people or celebrities seeking anonymity, centers often charge as much as $120,000.

Inpatient addiction treatment costs can vary greatly. Facilities with high reputations can be pricey. Additionally, the time someone spends at a treatment center also affects the price.

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Does Insurance Cover Inpatient Treatment

The short answer is yes. SUD and AUD (substance and alcohol use disorders) are medical diseases that any accredited health insurance must cover in U.S.

Depending on the specifics of the policies and state, many insurance companies will cover at least a portion of the costs. Sometimes, insurance companies will cover the entirety of inpatient rehab programs.

The types of insurance often used to attend inpatient rehab are:

  • State-financed insurance
  • Medicare or Medicaid
  • Private insurance
  • Military insurance

Many inpatient care facilities will offer financing options so people can pay for their services over time rather than all at once.

Who Should Go to Inpatient Treatment?

The people best suited for inpatient addiction treatment are those who:

  1. Need around-the-clock care and support
  2. Need assistance detoxing
  3. Are financially stable
  4. Don’t have a safe and secure home environment that will aid in recovery

Inpatient treatment can be extremely beneficial for a person who needs more intensive support to recover from a substance use disorder (SUD). Entering an inpatient treatment center can give people a way to escape everyday triggers for a more focused recovery.

Residential care allows people to focus on their recovery without worrying about family, children, parents, and others dependent on them.

Inpatient treatment isn’t for everyone. Sometimes, people with substance use disorder don’t need 24/7 care. In this case, outpatient treatment can be a good option to help people struggling with addiction make a full recovery.

Additionally, outpatient rehab is often recommended after staying at an inpatient center.

What's Next?

  • What Is Rehab Like?
  • Why Call an Addiction Hotline?
  • How to Sober Up
  • Tapering off of alcohol
  • What is Considered an Alcoholic?
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