Inpatient Care vs. Therapeutic Communities: What’s the Difference?
Recovery encompasses many elements. Aside from the physical withdrawals from substance use, there are many mental, emotional, and behavioral changes that accompany the transition to a sober lifestyle.
In order to assess which type of treatment program works best for you, we should delve into some of the terminology surrounding the journey from addiction to sobriety.
What Is Inpatient Treatment?
First, let’s consider the most pressing matter regarding recovery: your health. Halting your intake of substances will positively impact your physiology in the long term, but it may feel like a shock to the system in the short term. You must receive the proper medical attention in the formative stages of your treatment to emerge from the process stronger and more stable than before.
Inpatient care is a system in which your needs are addressed from the ground up. Consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: the base is a foundation of food and shelter, which we require daily to survive. Once these core elements are established, we can build upon them. Safety, intimacy, and accomplishment pile up until they lift you to the heights of self-actualization.
As with any important construction project, you must start at the bottom. Inpatient care provides the sanctuary that patients need to create momentum in their recovery.
On the other end of the spectrum, outpatient programs are less structured. Participants choose to join groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) on their schedule. Individuals in recovery may also seek a sponsor or “sober buddy” to join them in their journey away from addiction, but there is no set path in outpatient care.
Many recovering addicts start their process at an inpatient facility and gradually phase over to an outpatient lifestyle once they are ready to do so.
But how does one know if they are ready to transition from inpatient recovery structure and inpatient recovery to the more fluid outpatient system? That’s where a therapeutic community can help.
What Is a Therapeutic Community?
Therapeutic communities are designed to support a recovering individual through the process of thriving, not just surviving. After all, quitting substance use is just the first step in sober living; it’s maintaining your sobriety that will be the ultimate test, and it should last the rest of your life.
“Sobriety” is a complex concept. By focusing solely on abstinence from substance use, we give that substance too much power. Sober living is so much more than just quitting the use of drugs or alcohol; it is exploring your world, achieving your goals, and living your best life.
Instead of allowing sobriety to dominate every waking thought, we must change the conversation. It’s important to replace addiction with healthier, more productive endeavors. After all, if we spend all of our time obsessing about substance use, it may become a foregone conclusion.
To illustrate this point, let’s use a classic example: don’t think about a pink elephant. OK, now what are you thinking about? A pink elephant, right?
The same dynamic plays out during recovery. If all you do is think about the treatment process, you may not be enjoying the rest of what life has to offer. Therapeutic communities bring the world into sharper focus and consider every angle of sobriety, not just the abstinence portion.
Different Levels of Care
As the name suggests, therapeutic communities revolve around therapy. Your life experience is more than just a series of obligations and events; it is an evolution of thought and awareness.
To nurture the ideal recovery experience possible, we need to create measurable benchmarks. How are you feeling one month into sobriety? Three months? Six months? These may sound like simple questions, but they reveal a complicated network of data.
At Ethos, we employ a thorough analytical framework to determine the best results for our residents. One such method is the Outcome Questionnaire 45.2 procedure. Every 30 days, we ask our guests a series of 45 questions to gauge their mental health status. Statistics show that levels of depression and anxiety steadily subside over the course of six to nine months in a therapeutic community setting.
The results of our research prove that the stability and comprehensive nature of therapeutic care really do matter. While outpatient recovery may work for some individuals, the numbers pertaining to structured sobriety are clear. Residents of our therapeutic community exhibit more rewarding relationships and social interaction skills after completing the recommended duration of care.
Overall well-being scores also reflect the benefits of therapeutic community treatment. Dedicated case managers independently assess their residents, and we match these records with a patient’s own survey responses. Together, they create a map of how successful a given recovery is progressing. This sense of detail simply cannot be achieved in unstructured outpatient care.
How Can We Help?
When considering whether you require inpatient treatment or the outpatient route, be sure to keep therapeutic communities in mind. It is the best of both worlds, encouraging independent growth while also providing observation, camaraderie, and expertise at every turn.
Rather than perceiving recovery as the end of one chapter, consider it the start of your life story. Who will be the characters in your narrative? We pride ourselves on staffing the most compassionate, supportive team imaginable and we think you’ll agree.
Contact us to learn more about sober living and discuss the range of treatments included with our therapeutic community care system.
Author – Chris Howard
Chris Howard is the Founder and Director of Ethos Recovery. He has a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and has served as a community advocate/mentor for men and women in recovery since 2010.