Outpatient Treatment vs. Inpatient Treatment

If you have a drug or alcohol abuse problem, professional help from a rehabilitation center can help you become substance free as you work through both the immediate withdrawal symptoms and any underlying medical or psychiatric issues that contributed to your addiction. Addiction recovery and detox programs are offered on both an inpatient and outpatient basis through quality rehabilitation centers, and testimonials from former patients can attest to the effectiveness of these programs. If you are ready to break your cycle of addiction, here is what you need to know about the differences between inpatient and outpatient treatment as well as the effectiveness and benefits of each.

Outpatient Rehab Treatment

Differences Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

While inpatient and outpatient treatment vary in a number of ways, a few key factors can help you determine which type of program might be right for you.


As the name implies, patients receiving treatment at an inpatient rehab center reside at the treatment facility for the duration of their treatment. The cost of housing and meals is included in the overall cost of the program.

On the other hand, those in outpatient treatment programs continue to live at home and commute to the rehab center for treatment. For this reason, outpatient treatment is well-suited to those with strong family and social support networks at home as well as individuals who wish to seek addiction treatment while they continue to work. The severity and length of the patient’s addiction are also factors; if addressed early, outpatient treatment is often an appropriate option.


Mainly due to the cost of the comprehensive medical services provided, inpatient rehabilitation programs are often significantly more expensive than outpatient programs. The average 28-day inpatient treatment program costs about $20,000, though there is a wide range from the least expensive options to the highest-end luxury choices. Insurance does often help cover the cost of inpatient treatment, however.

The intensity and type of services offered by outpatient rehab centers vary widely from program to program, but generally, an eight- to 10-week treatment cycle costs around $2,000.

Length of Treatment

While the ultimate duration of treatment will depend on how quickly the patient progresses through the addiction recovery process, both inpatient and outpatient treatments are generally offered on set cycles. The initial detox phase of inpatient treatment typically lasts between three days and two weeks, after which the patient enters the inpatient program. Inpatient drug rehab is typically offered for 28 days or in segments of three months for up to a year or longer, as necessary.

Outpatient treatment is usually offered in cycles of eight to 16 weeks. Most outpatient programs require that patients attend treatment sessions multiple time a week; these sessions generally require a weekly commitment between six and 20 hours. It is important to note that the intensity of treatment and the weekly time required by outpatient programs vary, depending on the specific type of program. Partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs call for a significant daily commitment, with many programs requiring as many as six hours of treatment each weekday. Standard outpatient programs are much less intensive and are generally designed to meet the ongoing support needs of those who have already been through an inpatient or intensive outpatient program.


Whether inpatient or outpatient treatment will be more effective for a particular patient depends on the individual and their specific needs. A full continuum of care, including a complete detox program, has the greatest chance of providing successfully addiction treatment, and inpatient addiction treatment programs are often best equipped to provide this level of care. In particular, patients with severe psychiatric disorders or poor support systems tend to succeed more in inpatient therapy.

Similarities Between Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment

Understanding the ways in which the different programs vary can help guide your decision, but it is important to note the many similarities in treatment and results between inpatient and outpatient programs.

The Detox Process

The Detox Process

Regardless of which program type you choose, going through detoxification will be necessary if you have a severe physical dependency on alcohol or drugs. Many inpatient and outpatient programs will require you to go through the withdrawal and detox process before entering the rehab program.

The Importance of Therapy

Both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation programs center around behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. Most programs of both types place an emphasis on group counseling in conjunction with individual therapy as well as education designed to help prepare you for longer term addiction treatment.

Importance of Therapy


In some cases, the doctors involved in the treatment teams in both inpatient and outpatient rehab will prescribe medication for their patients to assist in addiction recovery. This is because pharmacotherapies have demonstrated effectiveness in helping improve treatment retention as well as reducing risky behaviors.

Remember that whether you choose inpatient or outpatient treatment, the goal of all detox programs and rehabilitation centers is to help you break free of your dependence on substances and assist in your addiction recovery. At Retreat Premier Addiction Treatment Centers, our qualified clinical teams offer both inpatient drug rehab and outpatient rehab programs. To learn more about your rehab options, please contact our 24/7 helpline at (855) 859-8808.



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