Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Rehab

Jump to a section
Table of contents
Expand list

If you or a family member are seeking substance-abuse treatment, the first step toward recovery is choosing the right program. But what’s the difference between outpatient inpatient and outpatient rehab? Primarily, the difference is in the location of therapy, but there are other factors to consider as well. Read on for a comprehensive comparison of inpatient vs. outpatient rehab.

Inpatient or Outpatient Rehab? How to Choose

There may not be a single approach that works for every person, but both outpatient and residential addiction treatment focus on the person first—and their condition second. Investing time and energy into one’s self is a vital requirement of any program. It’s still important to choose the right treatment program though, so here’s what to consider before enrolling in a plan.

Back to top

What Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab Have in Common

Substance abuse counseling is another way to describe rehabilitation therapy for people dealing with addiction. Outpatient drug counseling gives clients the tools they need to recover without requiring admittance to a hospital or rehab center, while inpatient includes an on-site stay at such a facility.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment include:

  • Ongoing assessments
  • Integrated counseling methods
  • The 12-step model
  • Individual and group counseling, and
  • Relapse-prevention training. 

However, the ultimate focus is on rehabilitation with a holistic approach.

Teams of professional staff provide physical, emotional, and psychological support for clients in a variety of settings. Considering the whole person, including their rehabilitation needs, maintains an individual-centered mindset and bolsters client confidence while providing tools for the recovery journey.

Points to Consider About Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab offers many benefits, but is not the right choice for everyone. Here are a few things to take into account.

Do You Qualify for Leave From Work?

Inpatient rehab requires time off work whereas committing to outpatient rehab for substance abuse enables clients to maintain their daily schedules regarding work and family life while still receiving critical aid toward recovery. 

Whether or not an individual can afford to take time off work can influence his or her treatment choice.

Costs of Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab is generally significantly cheaper than inpatient programs. Combined with the opportunity to continue working during treatment, this makes outpatient rehab an easier option for those on a tight budget. However, the cost of treatment should not be the deciding factor when choosing a rehab program. There are many options for financing that enable you to choose the best path to your recovery.

If you are relying on insurance to cover the cost of your counseling, you may have limited options when it comes to outpatient drug rehab centers. However, rather than letting your insurance dictate where you can turn for help, you may also consider a financing program.

Many financing programs help foot the bill for outpatient or inpatient treatment, letting you access the services you need at a price that’s manageable. Plus, free or low-cost Medi-Cal programs cover most types of drug counseling, meaning there is a treatment option for every individual regardless of insurance coverage or ability to pay out of pocket.

Location of Outpatient Rehab

Depending on where you live, outpatient treatment could require a long drive for each counseling session. While this may seem unfeasible for some, the higher cost and commitment of inpatient treatment make this a better option for others. 

When attending outpatient rehab for substance abuse, clients either live at home or in a partner sober living facility. Sober-living facilities can help keep clients on track toward recovery by placing them in a substance-free environment with other people on the path toward wellness. Rent is typically lower for sober-living housing than standard housing, although this is an added expense if you are maintaining a home as well.

Choosing to check into an inpatient facility, move to a sober-living location, or remain living at home boils down to what type of treatment you and your healthcare team feel is best for your recovery—and what costs you or your insurance provider are willing to carry.

Family Support and Contact

Outpatient treatment offers the opportunity to receive substance abuse treatment while surrounded by family and friends, while attending inpatient treatment limits contact with loved ones. Family support can greatly assist with addiction recovery, and for some this will be the deciding factor when choosing a rehab program. 

On the other hand, sometimes difficult home circumstances and family relationships can trigger substance abuse. In such cases, spending time away at an inpatient rehab offers better chances for recovery.

Back to top

3 Reasons Outpatient Rehab May Not Be Suitable:

  1. You require comprehensive medical treatment for co-existing disorders or health problems
  2. Your substance abuse is severe and long term and you require a more regimented treatment approach.
  3. You experience urges to use very often- outpatient rehabs don’t offer 24/7 support.

What to Consider About Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab involves staying at a rehab facility for the duration of treatment. This offers the opportunity for a fresh start in a safe, supportive environment, but also limits contact with family and friends. Here are some things to think about when comparing inpatient vs. outpatient rehab. 

Leave From Work

Committing to inpatient treatment means taking a substantial amount of time off work and could mean unemployment following discharge. However, many people qualify for leave from work under specific programs. Fortunately, counseling staff can assist clients in filling out the appropriate paperwork so that their jobs and their livelihoods receive protection.

For people who cannot obtain either paid or unpaid leave from work, choosing to check into an inpatient facility may mean forfeiting a good job in favor of a healthier future.

Social Support

At inpatient rehab facilities patients feel a sense of community and can establish beneficial relationships with their recovering peers. Being surrounded by people with the same daily struggles and goals helps those in recovery not to feel alone, and motivates them to work for a healthier future. Friendships kindled during rehab often last long after treatment is complete, and provides ongoing support in the lifelong journey to sobriety.

Following both inpatient and outpatient rehab, it’s highly recommended to attend recovery meetings such as NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or AA (Alcoholics Anonymous). This will provide you with continued support and motivation to maintain your sobriety.

Comprehensive Treatment

Inpatient rehab programs offer a host of treatment options and amenities that outpatient options do not provide. For example, inpatient facilities have 24/7 medical care and psychotherapy and also offer gym, yoga, equine therapy, and other facilities to improve your overall health.

Back to top

3 Reasons Inpatient Rehab May Be Unsuitable

  1. You have to spend time away from family and friends.
  2. The costs are significantly higher than outpatient programs.
  3. You cannot obtain leave from work or other responsibilities.

Outpatient vs. Inpatient Rehab Time Frames

Recovery takes time, so clients can’t expect to make tremendous progress overnight. That said, the timeframes for inpatient and outpatient counseling are very different. This is because each program has its unique processes and components, plus staffing and other needs.

Type of Program Length of Treatment Period Benefits
Outpatient Rehab Ranges from 3 days per week for 3 hours per day, to once weekly for one hour. Have free time around treatment sessions to work or spend as you please. 
Inpatient Rehab Usually 2 weeks. Can continue to attend outpatient therapy afterwards to help prevent relapse.

Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Rehab Success Rates

Both inpatient and outpatient alcohol and drug rehab have high success rates, however every case of substance abuse has unique circumstances and a unique history, and requires a treatment program that fits. Generally, the structured, comprehensive treatment at inpatient rehabs is more suited to helping long term addicts to recover.
Outpatient rehab is often a better choice for overcoming a new, or not so severe, addiction, but it doesn’t offer the all-round care that a severe addiction requires. 

It’s best to discuss your needs and options with a substance abuse professional before making your choice, as they have the experience to guide you on the path most suitable for you.

Whether Inpatient or Outpatient Rehab, Recovery is Near!

While these points are important to consider, nothing should stop you from getting the help that you need. Your recovery comes first, and costs, work or care for your family can all be arranged when necessary.

If you have any further questions about rehab, or would like guidance with choosing a treatment program, contact our team at Avenues Recovery.

Check your insurance

We received your insurance request!

We will get back to you shortly. While you wait... you may find our resource blog helpful. Take a look below: