Inpatient and residential treatment programs are what most people envision when they think about “rehab.” Pop culture depictions of these programs might make them out to be dreary or scary places, but that is far from the truth! In reality, inpatient / residential facilities are safe spaces designed around one central idea: in order to make a sustainable improvement to an addiction, you have to first re-examine all of the habits, cues, and triggers around it.
By taking you out of your normal environment and removing all of those triggers, inpatient and residential programs give you the space needed to focus on your recovery. Working alongside others who are in your same position and a licensed clinical team will also allow you to create a strong support network that will help you during this transition and beyond.
Let’s talk through some common questions and concerns about inpatient/residential treatment!
What exactly do inpatient/residential programs entail?
Both inpatient and residential programs take place in structured, alcohol- and drug-free (except for authorized medications) environments under the supervision of a licensed clinical team. The team can consist of social workers, therapists, physicians, psychiatrists, and nurses.
The day-to-day schedule will include a variety of different activities, like one-on-one therapy, group therapy, and self-help groups. It might also include alternative forms of therapy such as art therapy, music therapy, exercise programs or dance therapy, and additional services like legal or career assistance.
How do I know if inpatient/residential is right for me?
One of the first questions you might ask yourself is, “Do I feel like I can reach my goals in my current home and work environment ?” If you aren't confident in the answer being “Yes!”, it might be worthwhile to take a look at a residential level of care as a starting point.
Additionally, patients with a more severe history of use or those with other psychological or physical ailments are best suited for inpatient/residential programs. It might also be a good fit if you feel unsafe or unstable in your current living situation. An intake counselor at each respective program can help you assess if it’s a good fit for you.
From an insurance standpoint, what would qualify me for inpatient or residential treatment?
Specific qualifications may vary across insurance providers but, in general, patients who have the following will qualify for inpatient / residential treatment coverage :
What is the difference between inpatient and residential treatment programs?
Inpatient and residential are similar in their programming and in their goals. The primary differences are setting, duration of stay, and intensity.
Inpatient treatment is a bit more intensive than residential treatment. During inpatient treatment, patients stay in a medical facility (like a hospital or clinic) with a clinical staff. The program often includes a detox at the beginning.
Residential is slightly less intensive in that it is considered a 24-hour supportive living environment as opposed to inpatient which is considered a 24-hour treatment setting. Residential programs are often a little bit longer than inpatient programs and they don’t take place in a medical facility. Rather, they take place in a setting that’s a little more “homey” -- something closer to a community house or dorm.
How long do these programs last?
Treatment duration depends on individual severity as well as response to treatment, with the most common lengths being 30, 60, or 90 days. Insurance will typically cover up to 20 days of inpatient/residential treatment.
How do I know if I’ve found a reputable program?
Fraudulent treatment programs do exist and prey on individuals seeking out help. It’s important to exercise caution before giving any program your money or personal information.
You can take measures to ensure that any treatment program you’re considering is reputable by checking for accreditations like Joint Commission (“JCAHO”) and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (“CARF”), visiting the facility in person, asking your primary care physician or other medical professional for their references, calling “211,” the Federal Communications Commission, a hotline that will refer you to reputable local mental health services, and/or chatting with our Triggr treatment experts by texting the number at the end of this article.
What is allowed and not allowed in these programs?
Every facility will have a different set of rules and regulations, but there are generally some common ones:
Many programs require complete abstinence from all drugs and alcohol except for prescribed medicine, which will be held and administered by the staff. Some facilities allow tobacco and cigarettes.
Generally, you won’t be able to leave unless it’s with an employee of the facility to an organized activity. That said, you cannot be forced to go to rehab against your will unless it’s court-ordered.
Finally, most programs don’t allow cell phones for the duration of the your stay as they can be a source of temptation, hinder progress, and threaten patient privacy. Most do, however, allow for music players, gaming devices, e-readers, etc.
These rules might seem like a drag at first, but they are designed to make your experience as smooth, safe, and effective as possible.
Will my employer or boss find out?
Programs are HIPAA compliant and your privacy is extremely important. They will not share your information with anyone without your written consent.
Many employers have policies in place to protect employees who seek treatment and ensure you will still have your job when you return. The Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) allows employees who have been with their employer for at least twelve months to take at least 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family or medical reasons, which can include inpatient/residential treatment.
Is inpatient/residential treatment effective?
The short answer to this question is “yes,” it is effective, but only when followed up with continuing care services. Inpatient / residential treatment programs are only the beginning of the journey.
The long answer is more complex. Success is hard to measure as 1) everyone has a different goal going into treatment (not everyone is aiming for complete sobriety, for example) and 2) success often means an improved quality of life, which is difficult to quantify.
That said, recent research has shown that acute treatment (like a 28-day stay in an inpatient facility) is helpful but not sufficient in curing a chronic disease like addiction. Said another way, acute care by itself is not enough; it’s the continued care afterwards that is necessary for sustained recovery.
Inpatient / residential treatment might be the boost you need to kick things off and when it’s followed up with continued care, meetings, and/or therapy, it can be highly effective.
How much do inpatient/residential programs cost?
The cost varies greatly depending on your insurance and the treatment program. It can be as low as $2000-3000 for a month long program or up to $20,000 for a longer stay at a higher end program, though insurance can often cover a significant portion of the cost.
According to the Drug Abuse Treatment Cost Analysis Program (DATCAP), the average cost for a 13-week inpatient/residential program was approximately $10,000 (not including any insurance coverage).
Many facilities also offer sliding scale options, financial aid, or payment plan assistance to try to make treatment affordable.
What do I do after I’ve completed an inpatient or residential program?
The beauty of an inpatient/residential program is that they allow you to confront your relationship with drugs/alcohol without all the noise of everyday life. However, that noise will inevitably resurface as you settle back into your regular day-to-day, and so it’s necessary to have a robust continuing care plan ready for when that happens.
Continuing to engage in other forms of treatment after completing your inpatient/residential stay is one of the strongest predictors of your long term success. Reputable facilities will have an established continuing care plan already prepared for you, and they’ll talk through it with you before you discharge!
We personally recommend PHP or outpatient programs, self-help groups, sober living facilities, one-on-one therapy or some combination thereof be included in any continuing care plan.
There are also a number of free apps and online tools you can use (like ours!) to strengthen your support network.
Bottom Line: Inpatient / residential treatment programs are a great option if you're seeking intensive care outside of your home environment. If you have other questions or would like to find an treatment facility in your area, please connect to our treatment team by texting this number: (312) 248-6218.
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