Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

Inpatient and outpatient rehab are two common types of addiction treatment.1 Each offers distinct benefits and can be helpful for people with different severities of addiction and at different points in their recovery.

Only a clinician can advise you on which type of treatment is best for you, but this article will help you understand the differences between inpatient vs outpatient rehab and give you insight into how each type of treatment works.

What’s the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab?

Both inpatient and outpatient rehab are types of addiction treatment that offer therapy, support groups, and medications for people dealing with addictions.2 The main difference between inpatient and outpatient rehab is how intensive they are.

Inpatient treatment offers 24/7 care with housing, while outpatient treatment does not. When you attend outpatient, you go to a rehab location once or more per week to receive treatment and then return home or to a sober living facility when the day is over.

Inpatient and outpatient treatment are both effective.2 But certain people are better suited to go to inpatient, while others are better suited for outpatient. A clinician can conduct an evaluation and help you determine what type of treatment is the best fit for you.

The main differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab are:4

Inpatient Addiction Rehab

  • Treats severe addictions
  • 24/7 care
  • Includes housing
  • May take place in a hospital or facility
  • Provides treatment 7 days per week
  • Includes several hours of therapy each day

Outpatient Addiction Treatment

  • Treats mild to moderate addictions
  • Not 24/7 care
  • Does not include housing (you must return home or to a sober living facility after the treatment day is over)
  • May take place in various settings such as a facility or office
  • Provides treatment 1 to 5 days per week
  • Includes 1 to 6 hours of therapy per treatment day

Pros and Cons of Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab for Drug or Alcohol Addiction

doctor and therapist discuss with patient the importance of addiction treatment at lagunaThe benefits of inpatient vs outpatient rehab vary depending on your needs. The choice of whether to attend inpatient vs outpatient addiction treatment should be made with the help of a professional.

They will take into account your level of addiction, substance use and treatment history, and personal situation to help decide which level of addiction treatment would be best.

The benefits of inpatient treatment include:

  • A highly structured environment.
  • 24-hour care and support.
  • Access to evidence-based therapies and recreational activities.

Many inpatient facilities also offer access to a fitness center, yoga, and other activities to help improve your overall wellbeing.

The cons of inpatient treatment may include:

  • Being unable to attend work or care for children.
  • A higher treatment cost than outpatient programs.

Some of the benefits of outpatient treatment include:

  • The ability to attend to other responsibilities, like family, work, and school, while in treatment.
  • A wide range of treatment intensities.

The cons of outpatient treatment may involve the following:

  • A lack of around-the-clock medical supervision during detox.
  • Patients are exposed to everyday life stressors.
  • There is less structure than in inpatient treatment programs.

The length of stay in an inpatient vs outpatient rehab program depends on your own needs and the severity of your addiction. If you have a severe addiction or a history of relapse, you may benefit from staying longer. At least 90 days of treatment, or more if possible, is recommended to help people get the most out of treatment.2

This is sometimes spread out between inpatient and outpatient treatment. For example, a person may attend a month-long inpatient program or a 2-3 month rehab and then follow it up with several months of outpatient treatment. Longer treatment stays are linked to better outcomes, including a greater likelihood of maintaining abstinence.3

Who Should Consider Inpatient Addiction Treatment?

Inpatient addiction treatment in Orange County allows you to stay in a facility for a designated period of time and participate in daily therapy sessions, support groups, and sober activities. During this type of treatment, you will be able to:

  • Meet with a doctor who will evaluate you and discuss medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  • Attend daily group therapy sessions on a variety of topics, like relapse prevention and coping skills.
  • Participate in individual therapy using evidence-based approaches like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing.
  • Attend support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).
  • Meet other newly sober people and enjoy recreational activities together.
  • Take time for yourself to read, relax, self-reflect, and heal.
  • Create an aftercare plan with the help of a counselor.

Inpatient treatment may be right for you if you:

  • Have a severe addiction.
  • Are experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
  • Have a history of relapse.
  • Do not have a stable place to live.
  • Feel that the stress of your home environment may interfere with your recovery.

Who Should Consider Outpatient Addiction Treatment?

Outpatient addiction treatment allows you to attend a facility for treatment and then return home or to a sober living facility when your sessions are complete for the day. Depending on the type of program, you may attend outpatient treatment between 1 and 5 days per week.

There are different levels of outpatient treatment, which vary in the number of hours you attend each week. Although Laguna Treatment Center does not offer outpatient services, our sister facility in Las Vegas, NV, provides the following programs:

Like inpatient treatment, outpatient rehab also offers individual and group therapy and medication-assisted treatment.

Outpatient rehab falls on the continuum of care. Many people start with detox and inpatient treatment and then transition to outpatient rehab. This allows them to fully detox and get established in their recovery before returning to their home environment and the stressors of daily responsibilities.

Other people may start with outpatient and find it is not intensive enough. If this is the case, you can always transition to a higher level of care by switching to an inpatient program.

Outpatient treatment may be right for you if you:

  • Completed inpatient treatment.
  • Have a mild to moderate addiction.
  • Have a stable place to live.
  • Have responsibilities that you must attend to.

Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab: Which One Is Right For Me?

laguna treatment center entrance surrounded by palm trees, green plants and a water fountain

Determining which type of rehab is right for you will depend on the severity of your addiction and your personal situation. A clinician can evaluate you and provide a recommendation for whether you would most benefit from inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Laguna Treatment Center in Orange County, California, offers top-tier inpatient addiction treatment and medical detox. Medical detox is a form of inpatient treatment that focuses on managing the symptoms of drug and alcohol withdrawal.2

Many people start with detox and then continue with inpatient treatment at Laguna Treatment Center. If you are only able to commit to a short stay in rehab, we will help you transition to an outpatient facility when your detox is complete.

To start the admissions process at Laguna Treatment Center, you can reach out to an admissions navigator by calling . Our admissions navigators are available 24/7 to discuss the admissions process, the cost of treatment, and what to expect. We can help you verify your insurance coverage over the phone, or you can .

Inpatient and outpatient rehab both offer different benefits and are ideal for different people. If you are struggling with an addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We can help you determine which level of care is best for you and assist you in taking the first step toward a sober life.

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