Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment: Inpatient or Outpatient?

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment: Inpatient or Outpatient?

Previous generations had their widely publicized epidemics of addiction to opium, heroin and crack cocaine. Today, prescription opiates are the media’s favorite drug-addiction demon (which is hardly to say that illegal drugs, and non-opiate prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines, don’t continue to cause problems). Although doctors have gotten smarter about prescribing with discretion, if your M.D. recommends an opiate painkiller it’s a good idea to minimize addiction risk by thoroughly discussing options and precautions in advance.

You may, however, be among the unfortunates who failed to consider addiction dangers until it was too late. The good news is that treatment options are easy to find: just Googling “southern California rehab for prescription drug addiction,” “prescription drug rehab San Diego,” or even something as specific as “California Riverside treatment center for prescription-opiate and heroin treatment” will return hundreds of thousands of results. The bad news is, not all those results are guaranteed to lead you to options that are competent or even scrupulous. Just because you need prescription drug rehab in San Diego doesn’t mean every San-Diego-based center that advertises “addiction detox” will be right for you.

Even after you weed out the dubious options and those that just don’t match your preferred treatment approaches, numerous “is this the best detox center for me?” questions will remain. One point that commonly needs consideration: inpatient vs. outpatient care.

At Inland Detox, we recommend long-term inpatient treatment in most cases, since it provides extra time to learn relapse-prevention techniques in a temptation-free environment. However, if economic, vocational or responsibility concerns make it impractical to leave your everyday world for 10–13 weeks, well-managed outpatient treatment is much better than nothing.

Here are the points to settle before making that important decision:

1. Always choose an inpatient option for the first, acute-detox stage.

While opiate withdrawal presents fewer serious dangers than detox from some other drugs, there’s no way to be sure you won’t be the exception who develops life-threatening complications—or that you won’t give in to cravings mid-detox, possibly resulting in a fatal overdose. Supervised medical detox is always needed during the physical-withdrawal period.

2. Plan on some form of ongoing medical supervision, with regular therapy, for the first three months after physical detox.

Despite the cliché that it takes three weeks to learn a new habit, most medical professionals agree that phasing out truly addictive habits takes around four times as long—even if you aren’t actually using drugs anymore, your brain isn’t yet deprogrammed from the take-a-pill reflex. So don’t expect to detox in a week and then go back to business-as-usual on your own.

3. When considering inpatient vs. outpatient care, get professional help making the final decision.

If you rely on your own best judgment (which is probably fogged from drug use and related bad habits), you’ll probably wind up talking yourself into a decision based on your personal comfort zone—which is probably similar to your “old life,” which is where the strongest relapse temptations will be waiting to pounce. Discuss the inpatient-vs.-outpatient decision with a credentialed therapist, and consider:

  • How important it really is that you return to your old responsibilities as quickly as possible (usually, you aren’t as indispensable as you think—and if you’re struggling with addiction or its aftereffects, you probably aren’t doing that great with your responsibilities anyway)
  • Other ways these responsibilities might be filled if you spend several weeks in inpatient care (again, you probably have more options than you think)
  • Whether outpatient options are convenient to your place of residence (it’s vital that “long drive and I’m already tired” doesn’t become an excuse for skipping appointments)
  • What your insurance company will pay for—and what supplementary financial options are available

4. If you decide on outpatient care, choose a treatment program that’s specifically labeled “intensive outpatient.”

Or even “partial hospitalization,” which requires around 30 hours a week at the treatment center. Plan on an absolute minimum of three multiple-hours sessions per week. Inconvenient as it sounds, it’s vital to minimizing your risk of relapse (which would ultimately waste a lot more of your time).

5. Know your therapy priorities.

Inpatient or outpatient, these priorities should include:

  • Developing a positive focus in your overall mindset
  • Developing a healthy appreciation for yourself and your natural temperament
  • Setting long-term goals for your life
  • Finding alternate ways to manage the issues for which you originally received the addictive prescription
  • Minimizing new addiction risks in the event of future medical prescriptions

6. Whatever form of detox care you choose, remember your own responsibility in maintaining long-term sobriety.

While it’s true that addiction is an illness and needs professional treatment, you don’t want to approach recovery with an attitude of “just give me a few simple instructions for getting rid of this problem so I can get on with my life.” (If your addiction is to prescription drugs, chances are that was the attitude that got you into that mess in the first place.)

If you truly want to be “clean” for life (and ensure that life is everything it can be) you have to step outside of old comfort zones, get serious about personal empowerment, and make “becoming my own best self” your central focus—without worrying about instant gratification or what “everyone else” thinks. Only when these become habits, can you maintain a long-term attitude conducive to permanent, healthy sobriety.

Temecula-based Inland Detox, top center for southern California rehab, is convenient to the San Diego and Los Angeles metropolitan areas. Along with prescription drug addiction treatment, we offer heroin treatment and help for various other addictions. If you or a loved one need medical detox, please call us at (855) 856-2842 to learn more.