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While searching for a drug or alcohol treatment facility for a person with a dual diagnosis, you will often encounter the terms inpatient (hospitalization) and partial hospitalization (residential treatment). These terms used by drug and alcohol treatment facilities refer to a level of care and staffing, and have nothing to do with leaving the hospital, in either case.

Deciding on appropriate care for a dual diagnosis patient is tough enough, and confusing terminology certainly does not make the process any easier!

Hospitalization (inpatient)

Facilities that offer true hospitalization or true inpatient care will offer medical care around the clock; 24 hour a day nursing care, and 24 hour a day access to doctors when needed.

Medical detox will occur in a hospitalization setting, for safety, and in some cases psychiatric patients will need hospitalization for stabilization of symptoms before proceeding to lesser intensity partial hospitalization care.

Full hospitalization for dual diagnosis patients generally occurs for only a very brief period, a mater of days, and as soon as psychiatric symptoms have stabilized to the point where the patient can participate safely in a traditional drug treatment environment, they will be moved.

Partial Hospitalization (Residential Treatment)

The vast majority of drug and alcohol rehabs are partial hospitalization facilities. Patients reside within the facility 24 hours a day, but medical nursing services will not be offered around the clock. These services are offered in emergency situations.

Dual diagnosis patients need only a partial hospitalization environment, as long as their symptoms are stable, they are not a danger to themselves or to others, and they are lucid enough to participate effectively in the therapies of drug or alcohol treatment.

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Page last updated Sep 28, 2015

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