The Pros and Cons of Being at Home in Recovery
When you make the decision to go into treatment for an addiction to drugs like heroin, there are many choices. Will you go to an outpatient facility close to your home so that you can carry on with your life as normally as possible? Or will you go to an inpatient facility where you will be away from that daily life that was instrumental in getting you and your addiction where you are now? Even if you go to an inpatient facility, is it best for you to enter treatment locally near your home or to go far away?
There are pros and cons to these options. To help you get started, take a look at the differences between outpatient and inpatient treatment.
When you participate in treatment on an outpatient basis, you will go to treatment regularly but live at your home. Some of the pros of this include the following:
- You have more freedom.
- You can likely continue working or going to school.
- You are not gone from home.
- You don’t have to explain a long absence to family, friends or coworkers.
Some of the negatives to getting treatment on an outpatient basis include the following:
- You are still surrounded by the tempting situations you now need to avoid.
- You are not isolated and in a secure environment.
- You must abstain from your addictive behavior while potentially still having access to the substance.
Inpatient treatment, also called residential treatment, is where you go to live for a specified amount of time at a facility. The best-known residential treatment model is the therapeutic community (TC), with planned lengths of stay of between six and 12 months. “Treatment is highly structured and can be confrontational at times,” the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says, “with activities designed to help residents examine damaging beliefs, self-concepts, and destructive patterns of behavior and adopt new, more harmonious and constructive ways to interact with others.”
Another type of inpatient treatment is short-term residential. These programs provide intensive but relatively brief treatment based on a modified 12-step approach. Some of the pros of being in residential treatment include the following:
- You are in a protected, structured environment.
- You can focus on yourself and work to get better without distraction of work or home.
- You will have help available 24 hours a day from people who are familiar with the details of your situation.
If you are physically addicted to a drug like heroin or alcohol, your treatment may begin with medically assisted withdrawal under the care of a physician. This typically requires a residential situation. However, detox alone does not address the psychological, social and behavioral problems associated with addiction. Because of this, detox by itself does not typically produce lasting behavioral changes necessary for recovery, NIDA warns. Detox should be followed by a formal assessment and referral to drug addiction treatment.
Research has shown that a determining factor for maintaining sobriety is adequate treatment length, so do plan on giving yourself a fair shot at long-term recovery. Don’t think you can zip in and zip out and maintain your recovery without effort. “Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited effectiveness,” NIDA reports, “and treatment lasting significantly longer is recommended for maintaining positive outcomes.”
Either Way, Should You Be Near Home?
One factor in deciding the treatment setting you will pursue is whether or not you should be near your home. If you need to be near your home and family, of course, outpatient will accomplish that since you will be living at home while undergoing that treatment. An inpatient facility may also be near your home, or you can choose one far away.
There are pros and cons to being nearby and also to being far away. Often, achieving recovery involves help from, or work with, family members. If family members are going to be a part of the process, it may be helpful if the facility you go to is in the same area as where your family is.
On the other hand, even though at some point your family will connect with you and your counselors so they can learn more and how to help in the recovery process, sometimes it is better to be farther away. There is more anonymity in being in a new location and perhaps something a little bit freeing about putting distance between you and the place where your heroin addiction went out of control. However, you will need to go back eventually, putting into action what you have learned in treatment. Sometimes, a person’s family or living situation is part of the problem, hindering recovery whether they mean to or not. In this case, being farther away may be the better choice.
Get a Personal Assessment Before You Decide
These are guides to help you decide what is best for your own situation. To make the decision, you will want to talk with someone in person or on the phone about your individual circumstances. You can do this by calling our admissions coordinators 24 hours a day, seven days a week at our toll-free helpline.
 “Differences Between Outpatient and Inpatient Treatment Programs,” by Steven Gifford, LICDC, LPC, PsychCentral.com, last reviewed Jan. 30, 2013, http://psychcentral.com/lib/differences-between-outpatient-and-inpatient-treatment-programs/
 “Types of Treatment Programs,” Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition),National Institute on Drug Abuse, last updated December 2012, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs
 “How Long Does Drug Addiction Treatment Usually Last?” Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition), National Institute on Drug Abuse, last updated December 2012, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-long-does-drug-addiction-treatment