Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab Treatment

Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab

The Differences Between Inpatient & Outpatient Services

Inpatient and outpatient rehab are two general options for addiction, illness, and physical treatment centers. Essentially, clients need to choose one, at least at first, to help them recover from alcohol or drug use issues with the right level of support.

Choosing between inpatient and outpatient programs can be difficult, but there are ways to make it easier. Read on to learn the difference between inpatient vs. outpatient rehab.

The Addiction Treatment Continuum of Care

Seeking treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) can feel overwhelming, primarily because of the fear of jumping into unchartered waters. Based on data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 21.2 million persons over 12 years required substance abuse treatment in 2018 in the United States.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

SUD treatment entails a flexible continuum of multiple levels of therapy. Substance abusers can switch up and down the classes as needed. Most rehab facilities offer a continuum of care, providing patients with the level of care they require for a full recovery. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) classifies various levels of the continuum of care. They include:

  • Level 0.5: Early intervention
  • Level 1: Outpatient rehab
  • Level 2: Partial hospitalization programs or intensive outpatient care
  • Level 3: Inpatient rehab or residential rehab
  • Level 4: Medically-managed intensive outpatient drug rehab programs

Importance of Levels of Care in Rehab

Every individual has unique addiction treatment requirements. Some may require intense inpatient care, while others may benefit from part-time outpatient treatment. Some people may need both types of treatment at various periods.

An effective continuum allows for a smooth transition from one level to the next and provides consistent treatment across all levels. Some people attend all levels of care, while others only visit one or two.

The ASAM treatment levels help rehab centers identify the services you’ll need and what you may expect for a specific level of service. The treatment levels ensure that treatment centers stay focused on your treatment and recovery goals.

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Level 0.5: Early Intervention

Treatment begins with early intervention programs. They often help adults or adolescents at risk of developing substance use disorders but do not meet the diagnostic requirements for admission to a rehab facility.

Treatment during early intervention focuses on the risk factors that predispose the individual to drug addiction and enlightens the individual about the harmful consequences of drug abuse.

The duration of early intervention services is heavily dependent on the patient’s comprehension of the dangers of substance use and their willingness to make behavioral changes to avoid drug abuse. Patients are continuously examined for indications that indicate they require more intensive care.

Level 1: Outpatient Treatment

Patients undergoing outpatient treatment must attend regularly scheduled meetings. This level of care allows patients to go about their daily lives while receiving in-person therapy from addiction or mental health professionals. Outpatient treatment is suitable for those who work or have a strong support structure at home and is often less expensive than other kinds of care.

Level 2: Partial Hospitalization/ Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Medication management, medical and psychiatric consultation, and around- the-clock crisis services are all available at the second level of care. The program is linked to various levels of care along the continuum of care and offers support services like child care and vocational training.

  • Level 2.1: Intensive outpatient services – Intensive outpatient treatment (IOT) programs offer individual and group therapy, relapse prevention, and drug education. Others also offer family therapy sessions.
  • Level 2.5: Partial hospitalization – Unlike IOT programs, which require the patient to be referred to outside, partial hospitalization allows immediate access to a psychiatric and medical professional, and laboratory services.

Level 3: Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient Treatment ProgramsPatients with functional limitations or who require a stable living environment to aid their recovery benefit most from this level of care. It includes the following sub-categories:

  • Level 3.1: Clinically managed low-intensity residential treatment
  • Level 3.3: Clinically managed population-specific high-intensity residential services
  • Level 3.5: Clinically managed medium-intensity residential services
  • Level 3.7: Medically monitored high-intensity inpatient services

Level 4: Medically-Managed Intensive Inpatient Treatment

Level four is the most comprehensive of the treatment levels. It offers around-the-clock medically directed evaluation, care, and therapy. Level 4 institutions are usually equipped with mental health services, providing substance abuse treatment that also treats co-occurring disorders.

Intensive inpatient treatment programs focus on stabilizing patients and preparing them for transfer to a less intensive level of care for continuous monitoring throughout the recovery journey.

What Is Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment is a type of treatment program where individuals receive 24-hour care. Although it isn’t always necessary for a safe recovery, it can be effective for certain individuals. In the continuum of treatment, inpatient detox and residential treatment form the pillars of the levels of care.

  • Inpatient programs offers intensive treatment in a facility that is well supervised and provides day and night care for patients.
  • Usually, inpatient programs are somewhat more expensive than outpatient centers, but they can be paid for via insurance or another type of payment plan.
  • Those who often fare better in inpatient care are those who:
    • Need more intensive treatment.
    • Have severe injuries/addictions.
    • Have never gone through rehab before.
    • Are afraid of relapsing during early recovery.
    • Do not have a safe place to return to at the end of the night.
    • Do not have friends and family members to watch over them while they are not in treatment.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, those with specialized needs may also fare better in inpatient treatment centers, such as pregnant women, LGBT patients, homeless individuals, people who suffer from mental health issues co-occurring with their addictions, and/or people in the criminal justice system. This is because inpatient care offers an extra layer of support that outpatient treatment does not.

Prepping for an Inpatient Addiction Treatment Program

Although it is critical to prepare for rehab adequately, there is no specific time frame for preparing for treatment. It is essential to schedule an entering date for rehab and to have all of your affairs in order before that date.

Consider talking to your employer and planning housing arrangements for children or other family members. Also, plan how to go to and from the inpatient rehab centers and find out whether you can carry a few personal items to the facility.

What Is Outpatient Treatment?

An outpatient treatment program is another option for recovery. Patients often receive their treatments at scheduled times during the day and then are free to go home afterward. Other differences between inpatient vs. outpatient treatment are generally structure and intensity related, with outpatient or intensive outpatient generally sharing the following aspects:

  • Outpatient centers may offer scheduled treatment options, and some patients may return to the facility daily at first to receive care or therapy. Afterward, treatment may become less frequent.
  • Those who choose outpatient programs are often individuals with fewer problems in addition to their addictions or injuries and/or those with less intense symptoms.
  • Those who often fare better in outpatient programs are those who
    • Do not need 24-hour treatment.
    • Have gone through rehab before.
    • Have family members and friends who can watch after them while they are not in treatment.
    • Have jobs, school, or other daily obligations that prevent them from seeking 24-hour care.
    • Have a safe home situation.

According to a study published in 2003 by the medical journal Health Services Research, outpatient care is generally less expensive than inpatient treatment. However, one should not choose this option simply because of the cost but rather because it is a better fit.

Outpatient vs Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient Vs Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Potential clients are always looking for ways to determine if inpatient vs. outpatient rehab is a better choice for their recovery. It is always best to take your time deciding where you will seek care, just like you would focus on what to bring—or not bring—to the facility and how you will get there.

When you consider the situations listed above and which of them best reflect your own, you can determine if one or the other program most suits you.

  • Inpatient vs outpatient substance abuse treatment
    • Not everyone needs inpatient care for addiction treatment, although many facilities would have you believe they do. People who have loved ones who can take care of them when they are not in treatment and those who have jobs and can still function at them may want to choose outpatient care.
    • However, it is not always this simple. Some people will not be able to stay sober unless they are given the option to seek 24-hour care. Some will also require this kind of intensive treatment in order to learn to fight the issues by which they are currently plagued.
    • No one program is right for every person, so it is important to consider whether or not you will require a more intensive option in order to recover safely.
  • Inpatient vs outpatient physical therapy
    • Like with addiction treatment, there are both inpatient and outpatient options for physical therapy as well. If you have a more minor problem, outpatient care might be an effective choice, but if your injury was more severe, you may need inpatient care.
    • The comparison is similar to inpatient vs outpatient rehab for addiction. Choosing between the two should be a choice of which program better reflects your situation and will offer you the essential treatment options for your safe recovery.

Think of it this way: Is your addiction, injury, or illness severe? Are you worried about the problems you might encounter when you are not in treatment? Are you suffering from multiple issues, many of which are tied to your main injury or illness? If you answered yes to any of these questions, inpatient care is likely the better choice for you.

Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab Success Rates

Essentially, inpatient and outpatient care have similar success rates. The important aspect to consider is which will be able to help you most now. For example, you can start out your recovery in inpatient care and transition into an outpatient program once it has ended.

This is a great way to ensure that your recovery is given the chance to blossom as well as to take the essential steps necessary to build a foundation for improvement. Regardless of the decision you make, choosing the right program and following its guidelines will play an important role in making your recovery a long-lasting one.

You can find all types of drug rehab or alcohol rehab programs when you call 877-959-7271, including inpatient and outpatient centers and those that fall somewhere in the middle. Just call to speak with our staff of recovery representatives at Find Addiction Rehabs about starting your recovery, and we will be happy to help you, any time of day or night.

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Alcohol Abuse and Drug Addiction Treatment Stages

Recovery from a substance use disorder such as drug or alcohol addiction needs time, work, effort, and support. When starting a drug and alcohol treatment program, you will generally go through four phases of rehab recovery to enable you to learn to live a healthy and sober life.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are four significant stages of drug and alcohol addiction recovery:

  1. Initiation of treatment
  2. Early abstinence
  3. Abstinence maintenance
  4. Advanced recovery phase

Beginning Treatment: A Rehab Initiation

You may feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice permanently in the early hours and days of your treatment, and you may believe that your substance abuse problems are not as severe as others’. Be cautious of this approach. In the early stages of recovery denial might be your most challenging antagonist.

The goal in the initial treatment phase is to assist the patient in actively participating in treatment and abstinence. Substance abuse counselors help patients acknowledge the adverse effects of addiction and tackle denial.

During the assessment, doctors take the patient’s drug use and medical history. They also introduce and customize the treatment plan to match the individual’s needs.

Early Abstinence

Early abstinence is highly connected with excellent treatment results. This is often the most challenging stage to deal with because of:

  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Drug cravings
  • Drug dependence
  • Triggers for relapse

Counselors will teach you coping mechanisms to help you live a drug-free life.

Maintaining Abstinence

You will progress from the early abstinence stage to maintaining abstinence after approximately three months of consistent abstinence. If you started in a residential treatment facility, you would now transition to outpatient follow-up counseling. One of the critical goals of this stage of rehab is to prevent relapse. You will learn the warning signs of a potential relapse and scenarios that can lead to reusing.

Medical practitioners will also teach you how to leverage the tools learned in early phases in other aspects of life.

Advanced Recovery and Aftercare

This final stage often begins after approximately five years of abstinence. During advance recovery, you apply all the tools and skills you learned during your rehab treatment to live a satisfying, fulfilling life.

Strategies learned in rehab allow you to stay sober and become healthier. Recovery entails far more than simply remaining sober. It is the process of learning to live a healthy and happy life.

Deciding Between Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment

The most significant distinction these two classes therapy is that inpatient clients live at a treatment facility full-time. In contrast, outpatient clients live off-site at home or in sober living homes. However, there are several important distinctions between inpatient and outpatient care, such as:


  • Inpatient treatment might offer more assistance during withdrawal symptoms
  • Outpatient treatment can be organized around a person’s current obligations
  • Inpatient care is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Outpatient treatment is usually less expensive
  • During therapy, inpatient treatment is more likely to prevent relapse


Choosing the ideal rehab option is a crucial decision. While researching inpatient and outpatient therapy on your own can be a helpful starting step in selecting which program is best for you, consulting with a medical expert can also be beneficial.

A qualified mental health counselor, physician, or addiction treatment provider can assist you in assessing your treatment needs and locating the best treatment program. Call Find Addiction Rehabs today for confidential advice on selecting a drug rehab center.

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All Forms of Addiction Treatment: Found Here

Addiction is a chronic disease and its treatment entails a lifelong process of modifying deeply ingrained behavior. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs assist those suffering from this disease change their behavior. What is most important is that you are deciding to change.

It takes three weeks to alter a habit, but 90 days to make that change ordinary, so once you decide to make that change, it’s critical to continue with treatment to reinforce your new way of life. Remember that the longer you practice sobriety, the better your chances of success.

Call us today for help locating the best inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities near you!

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