Mar 19

Outpatient, Inpatient, Rehab, and Detox: What Do They Actually Mean?

The terminology used in drug rehab and alcohol treatment brochures and online can be confusing if you are not familiar with the industry. We have compiled a few commonly used terms here in an effort to make accessing treatment and other resources easier.

Outpatient and Inpatient in terms of Drug Rehab and Alcohol Treatment Programs in Canada

Outpatient and inpatient treatment programs are similar in that they both use group therapy. Some of these support groups are evidence-based and others are faith-based like 12-step programs. While programs vary, many utilize other treatments like individual counselling, education, family support, and medical care. Almost all those struggling with substance use will begin their journey at an outpatient office. Here a staff member will assess the person to see if inpatient care is necessary.

Outpatient – A person with substance use issues lives at home and accesses care at an outpatient office in their community. These offices might be a mental health clinic, hospital clinic, health unit, or a private counsellor. Outpatient programs are great for those early in their substance use struggles, those who can’t afford inpatient programs, or those who want to stay in their community and not leave their job or family.

Inpatient – The client lives at an inpatient treatment facility. Sometimes this facility is part of a hospital or special clinic, but is often a specialized drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. At this type of facility, individuals stay in a facility for a certain period of time and participate in treatment and activities during the days and evenings. Stays at an inpatient facility can range from one week to more than a month.

Detox and Rehab

Alcohol Detox programs in Vancouver, British Columbia, CanadaDetox – Detox, short for detoxification, is not necessary for everyone with substance use issues. It is not simply ceasing using substances. The Centre for Substance Abuse Treatment definition is as follows, “detoxification is a set of interventions aimed at managing acute intoxication and withdrawal. It denotes a clearing of toxins from the body of the patient who is acutely intoxicated and/or dependent on substances of abuse. Detoxification seeks to minimize the physical harm caused by the abuse of substances.”

Some levels of addiction mean a client cannot safely detox alone or without access to medical care. There are different kinds of detox clinics, some that provide medical care and others that do not. Please consult a healthcare professional before attempting to detox alone.

Rehab – Rehab has become a colloquial term so much now that it has almost lost its true meaning. Rehab is short for rehabilitation, which refers to an inpatient residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. Many people think their loved one who struggles with drugs or alcohol must go to rehab, but that is often not the case. Many can succeed through outpatient programs.

If you or a loved one requires more help navigating inpatient, outpatient, detox, or rehab options, please contact our specialist here. This website offers a cornucopia of information on drug rehab and alcohol treatment programs, from Vancouver to Toronto, Edmonton to Ottawa.


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