Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab

Inpatient and outpatient rehab are two general options for addiction, illness, and physical treatment centers. Essentially, patients need to choose one, at least at first, to help them recover. Choosing between these programs can be difficult, but there are ways to make it easier. Below you can see the differences between inpatient vs. outpatient rehab.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab - Looking over the shoulders of 2 people at a group of people sitting in a circle during group therapy. The image shows the just neck down for everyone.

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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, detox and residential treatment form the pillars of the levels of care.

  • Inpatient rehab offers intensive treatment in a facility that is well supervised and provides day and night care for patients.
  • Usually, these 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 rehab, such as pregnant women, LGBT patients, homeless individuals, people who suffer from mental disorders 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.

What Is Outpatient Treatment?

Inpatient vs. outpatient word cloud

Outpatient treatment 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 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 centers 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 care 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.

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Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehabs

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. 

24 Hour Addiction Treatment Hotline – Get Help Now

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.