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Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab

Addiction recovery is a continuous and lengthy procedure. There is no universally accepted time frame for overcoming an addiction since every person and circumstance differs. However, there are two main categories of drug abuse treatment: inpatient and outpatient.


Your qualified healthcare expert will advise you on whether you require inpatient or outpatient treatment based on your specific goals and the conditions of your case.


Remember that there is no real frontrunner between inpatient and outpatient treatment for substance abuse. Instead, several considerations must be considered before deciding whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is better for you.

Inpatient Treatment

Care for those struggling with addiction often takes place in a residential environment, thus the term "inpatient therapy." Inpatient therapy requires the patient to reside at the institution 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Detoxification from addictive substances is generally the first step in inpatient treatment programs. Patients may transition from inpatient to outpatient care, using their newly acquired coping abilities while continuing to receive professional supervision after undergoing more intensive phases of therapy in an inpatient setting.


Although inpatient treatment centers may provide somewhat different programs, most of them have common elements:


  • Mean duration of 28 days.

  • Counseling for individuals, groups, and families.

  • Administration of medications if medically required.

  • Treatment for a variety of mental health issues all at once.

  • Treatment through recreational activities.

  • Involvement in 12-step meetings.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Choosing between inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation involves weighing several factors, including the advantages and disadvantages of inpatient treatment facilities.


Among the many advantages of inpatient treatment are the following:


  • Continuous monitoring and responsibility.

  • Integrated treatment for many mental health disorders.

  • Early in the recovery process, it is essential to isolate oneself from potential sources of relapse, such as people, places, and things.


Inpatient rehabilitation has potential downsides:


  • Being unable to continue working because of treatment.

  • Specific insurance plans may only cover some of your treatment stay.

  • Higher expenses due to constant monitoring.

Medically Reviewed:


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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Outpatient Treatment

When receiving rehabilitation as an outpatient, patients are free to go about their daily lives as usual. Patients are free to arrange their therapy around their busy lives, and professionals can maintain strict adherence to the highest clinical standards by treating patients on an outpatient basis.


The methods used in outpatient alcohol recovery and drug treatment centers might vary significantly from one center to the next, just as they do in inpatient settings. Nonetheless, the following characteristics may be seen in most outpatient services:


  • A duration of around three months on average.

  • Counseling for individuals, groups, and families.

  • Prescription drug management guidelines.

  • Actions include attending 12-step group sessions.

  • Rehabilitative exercises.

Benefits and Drawbacks

When deciding whether or not to get treatment as an outpatient, it is crucial to weigh the benefits and any potential drawbacks. Outpatient services may provide:


  • Availability to adjust plans as needed.

  • Skills necessary to keep one's current employment.

  • The possibility of obtaining essential services without leaving the area has decreased.


There are certain disadvantages to outpatient programs:


  • Increased potential for relapse and drug access even during rehabilitation.

  • Reduced access to healthcare.

  • There are fewer chances to recognize and treat comorbid mental health problems.

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Cost Analysis: Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

There is a significant price difference between inpatient and outpatient care, which is critical when deciding which option to pursue. On average, inpatient therapeutic interventions are more expensive than their less intensive outpatient counterparts.


Without health insurance, the monthly cost of inpatient rehabilitation may range from $20,000 for the most minimal therapies to $40,000. Conversely, most outpatient treatment programs may be completed for around $1,000.


When comparing the possible expenses of inpatient care to those of outpatient care, one essential aspect is whether or not the client's insurance will cover the treatment costs.


Certain insurance companies may prefer paying for outpatient care, while others will only reimburse for inpatient care after outpatient care has failed. As a result of differences in health and insurance coverage, the total cost of rehabilitation might range substantially.

Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab: A Brief Comparison

Inpatient Rehab

  • Ideal for those who need immediate medical attention or who have a mild to severe addiction.

  • Constant access to healthcare professionals and social services.

  • It's usually more costly than outpatient care.

  • The service is available around the clock, every day of the week.

  • This kind of facility allows for a more in-depth all-encompassing therapy program for patients, with an average stay of 1 month.

  • The average program length is 30 days.

  • Since the average length of therapy is 30 days, the patient must withdraw from their daily routine.

  • Regular and long sessions.

Outpatient Rehab

  • Suitable for those who need a moderate amount of attention.

  • It is easily connected to a community of recovery resources.

  • Comparatively less expensive than inpatient.

  • Time commitments are often between three and thirty hours each week.

  • Since the patient stays in their home while receiving care, outpatient therapy can provide long-term, planned assistance, and a convenient timetable.

  • Extended outpatient care often lasts longer than inpatient care, anywhere from a few months to a year or more if necessary.

  • A more consistent schedule is seen in this condition.

  • Infrequent one-on-one counseling sessions.

Which Kind Of Drug And Alcohol Treatment, Inpatient Or Outpatient, Would Be Best For You?

The duration and type of care provided by inpatient and outpatient substance abuse treatment centers are critical distinctions. Likewise, there are advantages to both inpatient and outpatient regimens because you may get the degree of attention and assistance that is most suitable for your current recovery phase.


The following are a few points to consider while deciding between an inpatient or outpatient drug and alcohol treatment center:

1. How Frequently Do You Have The Temptation To Use Drugs Or Alcohol?


Inpatient treatment is often more effective for those with more powerful, persistent cravings to engage in risky drug use. However, outpatient treatment is more appropriate if your drug abuse desires are less frequent and less severe.

2. How Committed Are You To Show Up To Meetings?


Those who have trouble getting to treatment sessions may do very well in an inpatient setting, where trained medical staff can assist. On the other hand, outpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation might be wiser if you are eager to engage in and reap the benefits of your rehabilitation, counseling, or therapy.

3. Do You Need Therapy For Any Other Mental Health Issues?


You'll probably get all the medicines you need for your co-occurring disorders on time if you get inpatient care rather than outpatient. Inpatient treatment is also beneficial because it gives you the guidance you need to learn to control your drug abuse in the context of any underlying mental health issues.

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Benefits and Drawbacks
Cost Analysis: Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment
Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab: A Brief Comparison
Inpatient Rehab
Outpatient Rehab
Which Kind Of Drug And Alcohol Treatment, Inpatient Or Outpatient, Would Be Best For You?
How Frequently Do You Have The Temptation To Use Drugs Or Alcohol?
How Committed Are You To Show Up To Meetings?
Do You Need Therapy For Any Other Mental Health Issues?
Inpatient treatmet
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