Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab: What’s the Difference?

Inpatient or Outpatient
Inpatient vs outpatient rehab- what’s the difference? Which of these is right for you? Read on to learn about the differences.

America’s drug epidemic exceeds $1 trillion each year. That figure includes the costs of treatment, loss of productivity and criminal justice.  

But there is hope for people who want to live a sober life. In fact, there are over 14,500 treatment facilities in the United States.

But how do you choose the right one? We’ll explore the differences between inpatient vs outpatient treatment so you can make an educated decision.

Inpatient Rehab Treatment

Inpatient treatment is also called residential treatment. Those in rehab at these facilities live there for the duration of their treatment.

These facilities offer 24-hour support for those dealing with severe addictions to drugs or alcohol. Some patients also have mental health conditions in addition to their addictions. 

Treatment lengths can vary depending on the center. You can find both short and long-term inpatient centers.

Some may be as short as three weeks. Long-term inpatient treatments can last anywhere from six months to a year.

During inpatient treatment, addicts can expect to go through detox, reflection, and counseling. The aim of these rehab centers is to provide addicts with the tools they need to learn how to live a sober lifestyle once they leave the facility.

Things to Know About Inpatient Rehab

One of the best aspects of choosing an inpatient treatment center is that you are never alone as you work through your recovery. You can get support and counseling from a professional any time of day. 

Also, living in a licensed residential rehab facility means that you are away from the people and environments that enable you to use drugs or alcohol.

Treatment at inpatient rehab centers will take all of your time and attention. You are unable to work, go to school or take care of your kids or family members while you are in treatment.

You will have to make alternate arrangements for family members. And the amount of time you can spend with family during your treatment will be limited.

Your schedule during treatment will be set by the rehab staff and may be rigorous. You don’t have much say in what you do. Yet, that is one of the reasons that these programs are so effective.   

Outpatient Rehab Treatment 

Outpatient rehab treatments are daily therapy, group sessions, or counseling sessions that take place during the day.

Outpatient rehab for recovering addicts allows them to live at home and continue to work or go to school and maintain family responsibilities.

The majority of outpatient care programs follow steps that participants work through. As they progress through the steps, the sessions become less frequent. 

Many participants find peer support from others who are also on the road to recovery. 

Things to Know About Outpatient Rehab 

The main reason many people choose outpatient treatment is that they want to be able to live at home during treatment. If you have a good support system in your family and friends, this may be the best option for you.

The cost of outpatient vs inpatient care is significantly less. 

With outpatient treatment, you have more flexibility and freedom to choose a course of treatment. There are various types of counseling and alternative therapies that you can choose from.

Many sessions take place on weekends and in the evenings so that participants can work or go to school during the day.

The downside to outpatient rehab is that the majority of responsibility falls on your shoulders. You are responsible for showing up to your treatments.

It’s up to you to stay sober when you are at home in your usual environment. This can be an immense obstacle for many people.

Some people are not able to get sober while they remain in their home environment. In this case, outpatient rehab would not be the best choice for you.

Outpatient rehab facilities do not typically offer 24-hour support. There will be times when you are alone and need to rely on yourself to get through the next few hours.

If you need treatment for multiple conditions or need medical attention, an outpatient rehab facility may not be able to cater to you. Many outpatient programs are not able to offer intensive recovery programs or provide medical attention. 

Carefully review the type of patient that does well in inpatient vs outpatient treatment so you can identify which option would be best for you. 

Ideal Inpatient Rehab Patients 

Those who do well in inpatient treatment facilities are those who need to get away from their regular environment. Perhaps their home, work, or relationships cause too many triggers that would make recovery next to impossible.

People who have not had success with outpatient programs often find that inpatient rehab is exactly what they need.

If you need a medical detox to get drugs out of your body, an inpatient facility is the best place for you. You may get medications that can help you deal with withdrawal symptoms. 

People who don’t live near any outpatient programs find that it is easier to live at an inpatient facility instead of trying to commute to an outpatient location. 

Anyone with complicated medical or physical conditions would be able to get the specialized care he or she needs at an inpatient facility. 

Who Does Best in Outpatient Rehab?

The ideal patient in an outpatient setting is one who is committed to his or her sobriety. These people have a stable home life where they will be able to manage triggers and maintain abstinence.

It is best if outpatient patients can transport themselves to their meetings and other appointments without difficulty. 

Outpatient rehab patients fare well when they are able to structure their time outside of therapy in ways that are conducive to sober living.

People who want to live a sober life without quitting their jobs during treatment can consider outpatient care.

Bottom Line on Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab

We hope this guide has helped you understand the differences between inpatient vs outpatient rehab.

Gathering information about rehab treatments is a courageous first step. At Coastal Detox, we are here to help you every step along your journey to sobriety.

Contact us to get started.

Article Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.