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depressed woman who needs an inpatient program

What Level of Treatment Do You Need? When To Consider Inpatient Rehab

Whether you’ve realized you need treatment after a difficult holiday season, or your new year’s resolution is to take control of your life, researching options is a great first step. But with so many programs, how do you know what treatment is right for you?

What are the Options?

Rehab treatment programs are separated into two categories:

Outpatient is any treatment plan where you attend several counseling appointments each week while living at home.

woman at a counseling session

Outpatient typically includes one-on-one counseling, group therapy, and family sessions. This type of treatment doesn’t require an overnight stay at a facility, and generally can work around a work schedule. It is often a good option for many individuals with less severe symptoms, or who can’t take time off work.

Inpatient is any treatment plan where you spend extended time (usually a minimum of 28 days) living in a rehab facility. During this time you take part in treatment exercises, one-on-one counseling, and group therapy. Inpatient treatment is the best option for patients with severe symptoms, or who are looking for the best shot at healing from their addiction. Inpatient treatment provides an immersive, highly regimented schedule where triggers and stressors are removed to facilitate healing and growth.

Click here to read more about the differences between Inpatient and Outpatient treatment options.

When is Inpatient Necessary?

Inpatient programs are disruptive to a person’s status quo. But disruption is often what a patient needs. A high-quality inpatient treatment program provides the best chance for a successful outcome, but it may not be necessary for everyone struggling with addiction.

Here are some criteria to determine if inpatient treatment is right for you.

  1. You are dealing with severe symptoms that are having a serious negative impact on your life, your relationships, or the people around you. In cases like this it is important to act quickly and find a solution that works. For severe symptoms, it is important to take the best shot you can at recovery and find an inpatient solution.
  2. You have tried outpatient treatment in the past and it hasn’t achieved the results you need. Outpatient treatment works for some people. For others it doesn’t. If you’ve already tried outpatient programs and they didn’t work, it’s time to move up to the next level.
  3. You are willing to take time off away from work and family in order to receive the best treatment possible. If you can afford to take the time off, inpatient treatment offers the best chance of success. If you are ready and able to commit to an inpatient program, you should go for it.
  4. Your surroundings, family, coworkers, friends, or day-to-day activities are triggers. In this case it is important to remove yourself from your environment and seek treatment in an environment free from triggers and stressors.
  5. You are in danger of harming yourself or others around you. By choosing an inpatient program you are putting yourself in a safe controlled environment where mental health professionals can provide 24 hour support.
  6. You have severe addictive behaviour combined mental or emotional health diagnoses. The term for co-occurring mental health concerns coupled with addiction is dual diagnosis. True dual diagnosis treatment involves integrated treatment of the addiction and mental health concerns, and requires intensive individual counseling. This is best performed in an inpatient environment.
  7. You are ready to do the hard work of recovery. Even though inpatient rehabs tend to have higher success rates, it is by no means guaranteed. Regardless of what type of program you choose, success is up to you. And since inpatient rehab requires greater time and financial sacrifice, it’s especially important that you are committed to doing whatever it takes to heal.

Finding the Right Inpatient Program

Once you have decided that inpatient treatment is right for you, it is important to research and consider your options. The quality of inpatient programs vary wildly, as does the attention you will actually receive there.

depressed woman thinking about inpatient rehab

Unfortunately, many residential inpatient treatment programs are looking to cut costs as much as possible. These “budget” treatment programs sacrifice quality of treatment for a lower price tag. They do this by limiting the one-on-one counseling that patients receive, often providing only the legal minimum. In some states this is as little as a single hour per week. The rest of the schedule is padded out with group counseling, mindfulness exercises, and other activities.

Individual counseling is critical to successful treatment, as it is your best opportunity to receive personalized treatment and feedback. Group counseling and mindfulness exercises do have a place in treatment, but only when combined with effective individual counseling.

Research and determine your unique requirements. Important factors to consider include:

  • Program Length
  • Type of program (12 step, holistic, etc)
  • Location
  • Financials such as budget and what your insurance will cover.
  • Gender segregated vs Coed

From here, use the internet and resources to research programs that fit your criteria. Make a list of programs you are considering, check their reviews, and call them. Have a list of questions ready and take notes. Here are a couple good resources to help you find quality treatment programs:

  • – is an online resource dedicated to helping people find the right treatment programs. They have an exhaustive directory of rehabs with important criteria consolidated for easy comparison.
  • Non 12 Step Rehabs: A Side by Side Comparison – If you prefer a non-12 step based program, this resource has done the legwork to put the best programs from across the U.S. at your fingertips.

Once you have your choices narrowed down to a handful of programs, ask to talk to some graduates. They will be able to tell you more about the program than anyone else.

Finally, go with your gut and commit to 110% effort. Remember, no one can fix you. Only you can do that. But a good program will provide you with the tools and support you need.

What Level of Treatment Do You Need? When To Consider Inpatient Rehab

Joe Koelzer

Joe Koelzer is a co-founder and CEO of The Clearing. He has years of counseling experience and a master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.

After observing how depression and substance abuse impacted his wife Betsy’s life, Joe realized how broken our current system is for addiction and related mental health treatment.

He witnessed firsthand how an evidence-based approach coupled with Spiritual Psychology saved Betsy and enabled her to gain control of her life.

In co-founding The Clearing, Joe realized his dream of creating and sharing this innovative approach with others in a structured clinical setting.

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APA Reference
, . (2019). What Level of Treatment Do You Need? When To Consider Inpatient Rehab. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Jan 2019
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