Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab Programs

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab Programs

Struggling with alcohol and drugs is one of the hardest battles that anyone will ever face in their entire lives. The main reason this is such a difficult struggle is the fact that it is usually a lifelong conflict. The sad thing is that many people never get the proper help from a quality rehab program. This oftentimes leads to a lifelong cycle of recovery and relapse.

The best way to deal with substance abuse is with the many techniques developed and practiced at quality rehab locations. These facilities exit all over the country and offer a number of different standard and specialized treatment options.

Some rehabs may exclusively treat men or women. Some may cater to seniors. Others may be surrounded by nature in a calm and peaceful environment. Many are dual diagnosis clinics which deal not only with drug and alcohol issues, but also mental health concerns. This helps to not only treat the symptoms, but the root causes of the addiction as well. The more you can learn about where the addiction started, the more control you have over stopping it during rehab and beyond.

There are two main options that a person has when confronting their addiction issues. Inpatient and outpatient rehab programs both offer a number of unique and helpful strategies for overcoming dependency. Comparing what each offer will allow you to pick the type of rehab that is best suited to meet your needs.

For help finding the best locations, give our helpful advisors here at (NAME) a call today. Now, let’s look a little further into the details of what each method provides:

How Do Inpatient Rehab Programs Work?

Inpatient rehab is without a doubt the more intensive and focused of the two options. These types of rehab programs involve in-depth counseling, group meetings, developing ways to avoid triggers and many other techniques. They can be advantageous to people struggling with addiction who have never tried a rehab facility before.

They can also be beneficial to other people who have tried unsuccessfully through outpatient rehabs. Although the reasons may be different for why in-care facilities are oftentimes the best choice, the process stays the same. Focusing on cutting off the outside distractions and triggers that bring on the urge to use is one example.

Others include eliminating the availability of alcohol and drugs, as well as building a larger and more intimate support group. Of course, this is by no means an in-depth explanation of the way the treatments work at these rehab facilities. In fact, it doesn’t even scratch the surface as far as the services offered goes. Here are a few more examples:

  • 24/7 care
  • Anytime access to counseling
  • Separation from personal influences
  • Life skills training

As you are probably beginning to see, there is a lot that goes into creating a successful rehab stint. Of course, there are hundreds and hundreds of other specialized care techniques and instructional classes also. Our partners offer these and many other incredible services and care strategies.

How Do Outpatient Rehab Programs Work?

These are oftentimes the only option for those who struggle with addiction and cannot break away from their outside lives. Others may prefer an inpatient rehab care clinic, but may not be able to arrange it for other reasons. There are also always those who are unable to deal with the rules required to attend an inpatient rehab program.

Whatever the reason for choosing this route of care, outpatient rehab offers a much different strategy than inpatient. For starters, the patient must continue their normal routine (at least to some degree) while also going through treatment. While many people find this more convenient, there are a number who also find it troublesome.

The main reason is because of the fact that it keeps you in contact with the negative influences and situations that caused the addiction. But since that is just one of many things that must be worked around, outpatient care offers other solutions:

  • Longer programs
  • Flexible treatment sessions
  • Various levels of intensity
  • Increased focus on relapse prevention
  • Bringing family and friends into the process

Most of these methods are needed due to the fact that unlike at an inpatient rehab program, the patient cannot be cut off from the chance to use. Since this can’t be controlled the way it can in person, helping them to stay clean during treatment becomes harder. Sometimes a patient can choose to live in a sober living facility to help create a safer environment.

What Are the Characteristics of Inpatient Care vs. Outpatient Care?

Before moving on to other details about rehab facilities, we wanted to take a quick look at a few of the differences in the philosophy of each rehab program.


This method creates a more structured environment and lifestyle. Little habits like waking up at a scheduled hour and practicing good hygiene can be lost during the struggle with addiction. By creating a routine the patient then has an easier time with their therapy. They are able to make their counseling sessions on time. They also get to their other various therapies when they are supposed to as well.


The strategy must be very different for outpatient care. The fact that the therapy time has to get worked into a routine that can’t be broken means it’s hard to make it the top priority. This creates a less structured environment for the patient. Additionally, since there is much less time for direct counseling the sessions need to be more intense to be effective. This type of treatment is often best for someone who graduated out of an inpatient program. It is also ideal for those who want help maintaining their sobriety since there is some structure, but it is looser than an inpatient facility. Plus, those who cannot attend an inpatient facility, or simply cannot afford one, may find this to be their best option for a successful recovery.

What Is the In-Therapy Relapse Frequency?

This is something that is definitely worth looking at. It is important because relapses while in treatment can be more psychologically devastating than at other times. This is because a person often feels hopeless after relapsing while at a rehab program.

But there is never a need for them to feel this way. The struggle with substance abuse is real. The only shame would be if they didn’t pick themselves up and try again. This is why it is very important to understand how often patients backslide when undergoing therapy in various situations.

Do They Offer Post-Relapse Assistance?

With the possibility of relapse always present, it is also important to look at how each type of rehab facility helps patients who just had one. An inpatient rehab location would have the ability to immediately cut the patient off from any further use. It is more difficult with outpatient as a person is able to use several times or days before anyone knows.

Do They Have Customizable Therapy?

While both kinds of treatment offer this service, inpatient facilities have a much more in-depth program to customize. If you need more one-on-one counseling or if creative therapy like painting or drawing is more helpful, you’ll get it. Although you can choose what type of outpatient rehab you want, your time and options are still limited.

How Difficult Is Each Program?

As we mentioned previously, there are a number of different levels of intensity when it comes to substance abuse treatment. Whether inpatient or outpatient care, you can choose how intense or relaxed you want your therapy to be. This is to help put your mind at ease, reduce anxiety, and increase your chances of success.

But this process isn’t meant to be a walk in the park, either. Battling a drug or alcohol addiction is something that should never be taken lightly. Only a challenging rehab program will be able to help you overcome your struggles. With that said, there are a number of things to consider when deciding how intense your treatment should be:

  • Severity of addiction
  • The urge to use
  • Amount of time available for treatment
  • Number of previous rehabs

Which Programs Have the Best Overall Success Rates?

It is important to remember that different people will have different success with different rehab options. Not everything works the same for everybody. But many studies have shown that inpatient facilities tend to offer better end results. Although each individual case must be looked at on its own, there is quite a bit of data to support the claim.

Inpatient centers do a number of things that eliminate or reduce certain triggers better than outpatient programs do. This creates a better chance of success as a whole when looking at the entire process. By getting rid of access to drugs, negative outside influences and other distractions, the focus can remain on getting better.

So How Do You Choose?

Like anything else, it all comes down to what you want and what you can do. Many experts would say that if you have the choice to go to an inpatient facility then you probably should. Most of the time what causes people to relapse is the fact that they can’t get out of their old environment. Going to a place where you can start fresh is crucial to your success.

Inpatient care also provides a greater continuum of care than most outpatient facilities are set up to give. This is because inpatient facilities are often able to provide a more intensive level of care, such as if an individual needs detox prior to starting the recovery process, or if someone is also struggling with a dual diagnosis while recovering. Based on the continuum of care for addiction treatment, inpatient care is the first step to ending addiction in individuals who are actively suffering from addiction.

There are many former outpatients who have said that they wished they had chosen an inpatient program from the start. There is rarely a person who regretted choosing an inpatient rehab clinic.

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