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Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab: What’s the Difference?

Posted: August 8, 2018 by in Alcohol Addiction Recovery Place

inpatient vs outpatient

In 2014 alone, 21.5 million Americans dealt with a substance abuse disorder. Whether addicted to alcohol or a drug like heroin or cocaine, a substance abuse disorder is a disruptive thing to deal with.

It is also a potentially deadly mental illness to deal with. Few addicts can find recovery alone, which is why various rehab programs exist.

Ready to begin your recovery journey but are unsure what the difference is between inpatient vs outpatient programs? Don’t worry, you are in the right place.

Keep reading below for information on both programs to decide which would be best for you in Dale City, CA.


One of the clearest differences between the two programs is the location or facility. With inpatient treatment, you will actually live at a rehab center. This is why it is also sometimes called residential rehab.

This means if you enter an inpatient program, you will have 24-hour support and care.

With outpatient programs, you may visit a clinic or facility, but you will continue to live at home. This option can let people stay in their home to care for children or other family members.

Financial Considerations

As you can guess, due to the different levels of support, inpatient programs cost much more. As you are living at the facility, cost includes room and board.

Depending on your financial situation and level of insurance, an outpatient program could be best due to the lower costs. You also don’t have to miss work like you would with an inpatient program.

This is especially helpful if you have a job where you would be unable to take extended time off.

The Impact on Daily Life

The impact on your regular life differs drastically for inpatient vs outpatient. With outpatient programs, you are there and can’t come and go.

This aspect is helpful because it limits distractions and temptations. But certainly isn’t feasible for everyone. Some people have obligations such as strict jobs or children that they couldn’t step away from.

Your daily schedule will also be completely laid out for you. You have limited control over what you do and don’t do.

On the other side, outpatient treatment has significantly less impact on your day to day life. Even if you attend a session every day, you can still continue working most jobs and stay with your family.

Outpatient treatment, in general, is much more flexible than inpatient.

Length of Inpatient vs Outpatient Programs

While outpatient treatment is much more flexible, on average, they are longer than inpatient programs. This is because the process is not as focused and intense since you aren’t at a facility for 24 hours a day.

Some outpatient treatments can last three to twelve months. And for most, the process of attending group support meetings is forever part of their recovery.

On average, inpatient programs last anywhere from 28 days to six months. This can depend on the type of addiction someone has and the specifics of the program.

Programs can also be longer if any someone has other mental illnesses identified during treatment.

Treatment will be longer if someone is experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms. The program will work with medical staff to safely detox a person before jumping into deep therapy sessions.

Even after attending an inpatient treatment facility, most professionals suggest continuing to attend support meetings. This strengthens what was learned while in the facility.

Severity of Addiction

Knowing how severe your drug or alcohol addiction is can help you choose between an inpatient or outpatient program as well.

Inpatient treatments are designed with severe addictions in mind. They focus on detox, reflection, and growth. Because a person is living at the facility, every minute of their time is an opportunity to learn how to recover.

This means anyone who feels constant urges to use a drug or drink should lean more towards inpatient.

These programs will often have a transition period to help a person leave the facility and re-enter the outside world. This is because some people may struggle with the sudden change of support levels.

Less severe addictions can often be treated successfully with outpatient treatment. This can present as a person knowing they have a problem, without it impacting their job or family responsibilities.

Outpatient programs are great for people who can commit to meetings on their own. There is nobody around the clock reminding you to be sober. This is why outpatient treatment can be tricky for some.

People with strong support systems tend to have more success. When friends and families get involved with the process, a person feels much more supported.

Expected Success Rates

One final difference between inpatient and outpatient programs is the expected success rates.

Both outpatient and inpatient can be effective treatment options, but you must consider what will work best for you.

If you suffer from other mental health issues, inpatient can address this and your addiction. Living at an inpatient facility takes temptation out of the equation. This lets you focus on what matters.

For these reasons, inpatient can lead to higher success. This is especially true for those suffering from a severe addiction.

If you are aware you have a problem but don’t feel you require inpatient care, you may be able to find the support you need in outpatient groups. Sometimes the hardest step is attending the first meeting.

Find Freedom in Recovery

You’ve now read a lot about the differences between inpatient vs outpatient programs. You can now make the best choice for you and your journey. Whatever type of program you decide, entering rehab is a huge step towards recovery.

If you know someone else currently struggling with addiction, please share this post with them. Doing so can help them also find freedom and recovery!

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