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  • Those going into alcohol or drug addiction treatment have the choice between inpatient or outpatient treatment. But choosing between the two types can be difficult if you don’t know what they include. 

    To put it simply, inpatient is when you stay at a treatment facility and receive care, and outpatient is when you stay at your home and receive treatment somewhere else. There are both pros and cons to each treatment setting

    Inpatient Treatment Programs

    Most people looking for addiction treatment seek care in an inpatient rehab program. This means you stay at the facility for the entirety of the treatment program. Most programs last anywhere from 2890 days, but it really depends on your individual needs and situation.

    Inpatient Detox

    At the beginning of treatment, many people go through inpatient detoxification or detox. This allows you to go through withdrawal symptoms and deal with any health issues that come up while in a safe place. 

    These programs  can happen at a detox center or at the residential treatment center you’ll be staying at.

    Treatment Plan & Stay

    After detox is over, treatment begins. You’re given room to stay in and can attend individual and group therapy, support groups, and educational sessions about addiction recovery. 

    The focus of residential treatment programs is to help you develop a treatment plan so you can improve habits, change your thinking and attitudes about drugs or alcohol, forge connections in the recovery community, and stay sober for as long as possible. 

    Outpatient Treatment Programs

    Outpatient treatment allows you to live at home, go to work or school, and handle any other daily responsibilities. As a primary treatment setting, outpatient care is recommended for those with less severe substance use disorders and strong support at home.

    However, outpatient treatment can be just as effective as inpatient care. Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) offer a level of care that’s similar to inpatient treatment but affords the flexibility of living outside the treatment center.

    Outpatient Therapy & Counseling

    Outpatient rehab programs consist of going to a treatment center for group and individual therapy multiple times each week The focus is likely on relapse prevention, stress management, goal setting, communication skills, family therapy, and mental health issues in IOPs or PHPs. 

    Pros & Cons Of Inpatient Treatment

    With any treatment program, there are pros and cons. With the help of a treatment specialist, you can determine what works best for you and your situation. 

    Pros Of Inpatient Treatment

    There are many benefits of staying in an inpatient rehab center, including:

    • a stable, structured environment
    • healthcare professionals monitoring withdrawal and recovery
    • reduced risk of relapse due to the substance-free environment/vigilant supervision
    • intensive group and individual therapy sessions with help from therapists and addiction specialists
    • intense support from staff 
    • reduced exposure to stressors and triggers
    • options for luxury facilities that offer upscale amenities or accommodations 
    • higher likelihood of success in recovery when treatment is longer and more intense

    Cons Of Inpatient Treatment

    Although residential treatment can be beneficial over the long-term, there are some drawbacks as well:

    • limited access to the outside world
    • limited visiting time from supports like family and other loved ones
    • time off from work, school, and other responsibilities
    • high cost of treatment due to room and board and a higher level of care
    • insurance may or may not fully cover inpatient care
    • highly structured with little control over your daily schedule

    Pros & Cons Of Outpatient Treatment

    Outpatient treatment may seem better because you don’t have to stay at a rehab facility, but it has both pros and cons.

    Pros Of Outpatient Treatment

    Although you still live at home, outpatient treatment can be effective and has many benefits, including:

    • reduced cost due to no room and board
    • ability to attend work or school and go on with daily life while receiving care
    • increased access to your support system of friends and family members
    • ability to practice recovery skills and relapse prevention techniques in the real world during treatment
    • flexible treatment schedule

    Cons Of Outpatient Treatment

    Although outpatient care features more flexibility than residential treatment, there are some drawbacks of living outside the rehab center during treatment:

    • lack of 24-hour care
    • easier access to substances
    • heightened relapse risk if home environment is unstable or stressful
    • less medical support
    • fewer opportunities to identify and address co-occurring mental health disorders

    Choosing The Best Substance Abuse Treatment Program For You

    With the help of a treatment specialist or the information on this page, you can decide which treatment option sounds the best for you. 

    That being said, cost and whether your insurance covers a type of treatment will likely play a role in your decision. Inpatient rehab can be tens of thousands of dollars while outpatient can be under $1000.

    If you or a loved one struggles with drug or alcohol addiction, call our helpline today. We can assist you in finding the addiction recovery program that’s perfect for you.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - Types of Treatment Programs
    National Library of Medicine - Inpatient vs outpatient treatment for substance dependence revisited
    Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - Types of treatment
    Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Treatment Improvement Protocol - Services in Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on June 24, 2022
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