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How Do Inpatient And Outpatient Rehab Programs Compare?

Graphics showing the benefits of inpatient and outpatient treatment

Deciding to quit using drugs or alcohol is an important first step toward recovery. Addiction recovery is a process that drug and alcohol treatment programs can help you through. Different types of substance abuse treatment include medical detox, therapy, and counseling. These treatment programs fall into two categories: inpatient and outpatient rehab.

The type of rehab ideal for you is determined by your needs and the severity of your substance use issue. Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs will help you quit using drugs or alcohol and lower your chances of relapsing.

One type of treatment is not better or more effective than the other. What differentiates these two treatment options is the setting, so whichever you choose will depend on what works best for you and your situation.

What is Inpatient Treatment?

An inpatient rehab program is also known as a residential rehab program because patients live at the rehab facility. Inpatient treatment can be effective for those people who have severe problems with alcohol or drugs, particularly those who are suffering from additional mental health issues. Living at the recovery program facilities helps you to avoid the daily temptations and influences that trigger your substance use. Living in a healthy setting supports your recovery process.

Licensed inpatient facilities provide 24-hour intensive care and support. These facilities incorporate three phases of addiction recovery into their treatment plans, including detox, reflection, and growth. They are committed to helping individuals learn to live drug- and alcohol-free lifestyles after treatment. 

Many of these programs use a step-down approach to help patients switch from inpatient rehab to individual or group therapy outside the treatment facility.

There are both short- and long-term residential rehab programs available. Long-term residential facilities often house patients for six months to a year, and short-term facilities accommodate patients for three to six weeks.

What is Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment involves daily treatment at a facility or a clinic, such as therapy, counseling, or group sessions. People who choose outpatient rehab can continue to live at home while recovering, allowing them to take care of their children or family members, work, and attend school. Outpatient care is often less expensive than inpatient rehab, but the level of care may be less intensive.

Most outpatient programs include individual or group therapy and employ a step-down approach, which means that sessions become less intense and frequent as you progress through treatment. These programs assist individuals in overcoming their drug or alcohol addiction and, later, in maintaining their recovery over time.

So How Do Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment Programs Compare?

Both inpatient and outpatient rehab programs have their upsides and downsides. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when deciding between inpatient and outpatient rehab. The individual’s history with addictive drugs, alcohol abuse, and daily life will determine the best treatment options.

Benefits of Outpatient Rehab

Because of the multiple advantages, many people prefer outpatient care. It provides more flexible options and usually low costs, making it achievable for the average individual suffering from substance abuse problems. However, outpatient therapy is not always the best option. So, let’s have a deep look at the benefits of the outpatient program:

More Flexibility

Even in more intensive outpatient programs, flexibility is a major advantage. You are not needed to stay at the treatment center until the outpatient therapy is completed.

Patients may have several ongoing issues in their everyday lives, and outpatient treatment programs help them to balance everything. In some circumstances, you can even schedule your own appointments, making outpatient programs more convenient than inpatient programs.

Less Expensive

At The Recovery Team, we believe everyone deserves to recover from substance abuse issues. That’s why we provide an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and partial hospitalization program (PHP) at our rehab facility. Both residential and outpatient therapy have their ups and downs, although outpatient treatment programs are less expensive.

More Discrete

Outpatient treatments are discrete if you are worried that your employer might find out about your drug abuse issue. Nobody needs to know that you go to the treatment facility a few times a week, and you can keep your current job.

Benefits of Residential Rehab

Outpatient rehab programs have several advantages. However, when comparing residential rehab and outpatient rehab programs, some conclude that an inpatient program is a better option.

Residential treatment often includes a more comprehensive approach, such as individual therapy sessions, group therapy, group meetings, and family therapy, all while the patient resides at the treatment center.

Other advantages include the following:

Around-the-Clock Care

The ability to get 24/7 care is one of the biggest differences between residential rehab and outpatient therapy. You stay in residential therapy for weeks or months. The staff of medical professionals at inpatient treatment facilities helps recovering addicts stay safe in a loving and supportive manner, with zero lapses in care.

Effective for Long-Term Addiction Patients

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment success rates are higher than not receiving any therapy at all. However, some people discover that enrolling in a residential rehab facility is necessary to get the comprehensive substance abuse treatment they require. This makes it an excellent long-term solution for many people.

Psycho-Education and Coping Skills

During your time in the inpatient program, you will learn new skills, such as managing your anger and emotions and controlling your thoughts. You will also be provided psychoeducation, which is required to treat drug and alcohol addiction.

Differences Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatments

The way treatment takes place in inpatient and outpatient settings tends to vary. Here have a look at the primary differences between both types of treatments.

With inpatient treatment, a person will:

  • Stay at the treatment facility, away from their everyday life
  • Work on self-improvement and overcoming the addiction problem
  • Receive effective medications for rehab, or co-curring medical issues
  • Potentially receive partial hospitalization during the medical detoxification process
  • Receive group therapy

With outpatient treatment, a person will:

  • Be self-responsible for their sobriety when not at the treatment facility
  • Have time in their everyday life to work on themselves
  • Be able to develop a supportive network of peers from outpatient services

Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Rehab Success Rates

If you’re debating inpatient and outpatient rehab, you probably want to discover which treatment is more successful. While every patient’s experience will differ, research has looked at rehab success rates. According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment (JSAT), relapse rates for patients in opioid addiction treatment over one month were 63% for those in short-term inpatient care, 14% for those in long-term inpatient care, and 28% for those in outpatient care. Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) lowered relapse rates across all three treatment options to 12 percent.

According to the findings of this study, longer-term, more intensive treatment is more effective. This is unsurprising, considering that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that treatment should last at least three months to be effective. One-month inpatient treatment is unlikely enough to promote long-term sobriety on its own; thus, it is essential to continue with outpatient care after a brief inpatient stay.

Choosing Between Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Treatment

It might be tough to choose between inpatient and outpatient treatment. Both treatment types are important and have distinct benefits. People may pick one or the other, but it is always preferable to complete both: inpatient followed by outpatient therapy – this gives them the best chance of long-term sobriety.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment?

The primary difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment is that inpatient care requires the patient to stay overnight in a hospital, whereas outpatient care does not. If you need inpatient care, you will be closely monitored by hospital healthcare staff throughout your treatment and recovery. Outpatient care, also known as ambulatory care, is provided without hospitalization.

Another main difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment is the cost of care. In outpatient care, you only pay for physician fees and the cost of tests and treatments. In inpatient care, the hospital stay is included in the price. Depending on the duration of stay and type of treatment, inpatient care can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

What are the benefits of outpatient therapy?

Outpatient treatment comes with several benefits, including:

  • Outpatient treatment fits your schedule
  • Outpatient treatment is more discrete
  • Outpatient treatment is tailored to meet your unique needs
  • Outpatient treatment is less expensive
  • You will build upon skills developed in residential treatment (if previously in inpatient care)

What is the success rate of rehab in the US?

According to a study, an estimated 43% of all patients who attend drug rehab successfully complete their treatment programs, with the remaining 16% transferred to different rehab facilities for additional treatment. The success rate for individuals who complete drug and alcohol detoxification is 68%.

Is rehab the same as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that 12-step and self-help programs are not replacements for treatment. Instead, they are a way to complement professional addiction treatment. AA also does not describe itself as a therapeutic modality, which means it is not intended to be your sole source of getting help. While many rehab centers employ tenets of AA in their treatment activities, AA itself does not constitute the whole treatment regimen required for effective rehab.

What is outpatient rehab?

Outpatient rehab is a therapy-based, non-residential treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. This sort of treatment, unlike inpatient rehab, does not involve on-site living/housing arrangements. A person with an addiction issue is not required to stay in a treatment facility for a set amount of time. Instead, they live at home and attend therapy sessions according to the provided schedule.

The Recovery Team Can Help You Get Fully Recovered

If you need alcohol or drug addiction treatment, it is important that you select a treatment center that suits your specific needs. This usually involves choosing a rehab facility that provides tailored treatment plans, as no two patients have the same needs. It is also in your best interest to select an accredited facility so that you can be certain you are getting quality treatment.

For those people who are seeking professional addiction treatment, The Recovery Team can help. We offer multiple levels of care, including medical detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, and transitional living. We also provide a number of effective therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), relapse prevention, and more.

For more information, contact us at (800) 817-1247