You asked, we answered: Are there addiction treatment options that don't require a hospital stay?

Picture of a man in group therapy

Question: Are there addiction treatment options that don’t require a hospital stay?

Answered by addiction psychiatrist Sara Zachman, MD, MPH

Hospitals, like Nebraska Medical Center, can help those with mental health issues like substance use disorders, but not everyone feels comfortable or necessarily needs to go to a hospital for such an issue. Fortunately, there are many options for those seeking treatment for an addiction that don’t require a hospital stay.

Deciding on the most appropriate level of care for addiction treatment – the specific type and setting – is a critical first step in anyone’s recovery. Factors that go into determining the proper level of care for addiction treatment include:

  • Safety – need for support through intoxication and/or withdrawal
  • Location of treatment – while living in a facility or at home
  • Program intensity – how many hours per day, week or month
  • Patient preference – based on motivation, past experiences or current responsibilities

There are many levels of addiction care, but some of the most common – from most intensive to least – include:

  • Supervised medical management – aka a “detox” program, is often a necessary first step for someone ready to stop their substance use but who needs medical support to do so safely
  • Residential treatment – is a program where participants commit to residing or living within the facility during their treatment experience, which typically incorporates various types of programming, like individual and group therapy, throughout the day
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) – provide a concentrated schedule, typically several hours per day on several days per week, with a combination of group support, individual therapy and sometimes medication management while living at home
  • Outpatient programs – are clinical settings where individuals come for regularly scheduled appointments with a therapist and/or medication provider

The greater level of difficulty someone has managing their substance use on their own and/or the more significant the associated negative consequences, the more likely a higher level of care will benefit them. There is no rule, however, that one must start at the most intensive level of care and sequentially work their way down. Ultimately, this decision includes various factors and is a highly individualized one.

You don’t have to decide which level of care makes the most sense for you alone. Familiarizing yourself with your options and then discussing them with your health care provider, including your unique goals, resources and situation, is often the best first step to finding the best place to start your recovery.

If you or your loved one is struggling, call 800.922.0000 to schedule an appointment with a mental health specialist.