Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab: Which One is Right for You? - Arise

What is the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab?

If you are struggling with addiction and looking into getting professional help, you have probably heard the terms “inpatient rehab” and “outpatient rehab.” It can be difficult to understand the difference between these two types of programs, especially if you have never been to rehab before.

When it comes to making the right choice, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Some people would benefit from attending outpatient treatment, while others may need a little extra help from an inpatient program. Whatever you choose, it is important to make sure that the program is right for you.

The Difference between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab

What is Inpatient Treatment?

An inpatient addiction treatment program requires you to live at the facility while you attend treatment sessions. Typically, people commit to spending 30, 60, or 90 days in an inpatient facility while they recover from addiction. These programs provide you with high levels of accountability and structure by planning out each day for you, preventing you from becoming bored or complacent in your treatment journey.

During inpatient treatment, you can expect to receive highly individualized and intensive care. The first step in a residential program is undergoing an assessment to determine what services you need and what your goals are for recovery.

Some of the services offered during an inpatient treatment program include:

  • Full assessment of drug abuse, family, medical, and mental health history
  • Assessment to determine if co-occurring disorders are present
  • Individual therapy for addiction
  • Group counseling for addiction
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • A wide range of behavioral therapies
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Medication management as needed
  • Treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions if necessary
  • Family therapy as needed
  • Relapse prevention planning
  • Referrals to additional recovery programs like outpatient treatment or sober living homes

Important Aspects of Inpatient Programs

Inpatient programs can offer you a wide range of extremely beneficial services. From medical detox to dual diagnosis treatment and groundbreaking behavioral therapies, inpatient treatment has it all. It is important to understand how these services work before choosing which type of program you would like to attend.

The Option to Attend Medical Detox

Oftentimes, addiction is accompanied by grueling symptoms of withdrawal. If you have ever experienced withdrawal, you are probably familiar with how uncomfortable it can become. In some cases, the symptoms can become life-threatening.

To prevent you from being uncomfortable or suffering from severe symptoms of withdrawal, inpatient rehab allows you to attend medical detox before beginning your program. Medical detox is a process that uses pharmacological treatments to soothe symptoms of withdrawal and eliminate cravings. This keeps you safe while preventing you from feeling like you want to use it again.

medical detox during inpatient rehab

Access to Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Suffering from co-occurring disorders is extremely common. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Services, “approximately 9.2 million adults in the United States have a co-occurring disorder.”[1]

The most common mental health conditions to co-occur with addiction include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

If you struggle with a mental health condition and a substance use disorder, you should be looking for dual diagnosis treatment. This type of treatment addresses both co-occurring conditions at the same time, preventing you from experiencing a relapse in one or both of your illnesses.

Many residential treatment centers offer dual diagnosis services. This includes specialized therapy, specific counseling groups for your conditions, and medication if you need it.

Individualized Treatment Planning

When you arrive at inpatient rehab, you will undergo a full assessment to determine your needs and goals regarding treatment.

This initial assessment process takes a look at the following:

  • Family history
  • Personal medical history
  • History of drug abuse
  • Mental health history
  • Social history
  • Goals and hopes for treatment

The information gathered during this assessment will be used to create an individualized treatment plan for you. Because everyone is different, treatment planning should cater to the unique needs of each individual client. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment that has been found effective. The most important thing is that the services you receive are tailored to meet your needs.

Because of the necessity for individualized treatment planning, inpatient programs take the time to assess you and every patient who walks through their doors. This process will help the staff members decide how long you need to attend treatment, which types of therapies will best benefit you, and much more.

Evidence-Based Behavioral Therapies

Inpatient treatment places an emphasis on the importance of using evidence-based behavioral therapies within individual and group counseling sessions. Evidence-based therapies are therapeutic tools that have been found especially effective in treating addiction or co-occurring mental health conditions.

Examples of evidence-based therapies used during inpatient treatment include:[2]

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Contingency management
  • Community reinforcement approach plus vouchers
  • Motivational enhancement therapy
  • The matrix model
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Family behavior therapy

These behavioral therapies will help you identify negative patterns of thinking and learn healthy coping mechanisms to begin thinking, feeling, and behaving more positively. Each one does this in a different manner, making individualized treatment planning extremely vital.

The Benefits of Inpatient Rehab

When deciding between inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab, it comes down to what each program offers and what you need. While inpatient treatment is more expensive than outpatient rehab, it provides a higher level of care if you suffer from severe addictions or co-occurring mental health conditions.

The benefits of inpatient rehab include:

  • 24/7 support and medical care
  • Individualized treatment planning
  • Accountability and structure
  • Comprehensive treatment for comorbid disorders
  • Removal from the people, places, and things that trigger your addiction or mental health conditions
  • Medication management when deemed necessary
  • Medical care for current physical conditions
  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Access to 12-step programs

What Is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab is a type of addiction treatment program that allows patients to maintain their daily lives while attending treatment. This means that you are not required to live at the facility – but at home. Because of this, you must have a solid support system outside of treatment if you decide to attend outpatient rehab.

If you are a parent, have a demanding career, or only suffer from a mild substance use disorder, outpatient treatment might be right for you. While outpatient treatment is less intensive than inpatient, it still offers the same evidence-based therapies and treatments – just on a smaller scale. Additionally, outpatient treatment is more affordable than inpatient if you are paying out of pocket and do not have health insurance.

Outpatient treatment offers the following services:

  • Individualized treatment planning
  • Individual addiction therapy
  • Behavioral therapies for addiction
  • Group counseling sessions
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Relapse prevention planning
  • References for sober living programs

California outpatient rehab

Important Aspects of Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab

Outpatient addiction treatment centers offer most of the same services as inpatient treatment, however, this type of program emphasizes the importance of different things. For example, while inpatient treatment is rigorous and strict, outpatient programs are flexible and rely on self-accountability. A major component of outpatient rehab involves preventing relapse.

Flexible Scheduling

The most attractive aspect of outpatient rehab is the flexibility in scheduling. If you have children, a demanding career, or attend school, outpatient programs will work around your schedule to ensure you meet your responsibilities while receiving the help you need.

While this can be extremely beneficial for some, it is important for you to consider how this flexibility would affect you during the treatment process. Are you self-motivated to recover or do you need a little extra help in staying sober? If you are able to motivate yourself and keep yourself accountable, rehab may be right for you.

Relapse Prevention Planning

Outpatient rehab emphasizes relapse prevention planning. This is partially because of how flexible these programs are, however, relapse prevention planning is vital for any addiction recovery program.

Upon completing an outpatient program, individuals will need to find their own sober communities and support systems. Relapse prevention planning teaches you how to do this to prevent you from losing that sense of community and emotional support.

Other aspects of relapse prevention plans include:

  • List of triggers
  • List of positive coping mechanisms to use
  • Names and numbers of sober supports to call in times of need
  • Referrals to sober living homes or 12-step meetings
  • Continued therapy, counseling, and medication management

Individual and Group Counseling

Like inpatient treatment, outpatient programs understand the importance of individual therapy and group counseling. They use the same evidence-based behavioral therapies and assess each patient to decide what type of therapy would work best. This is especially beneficial if you need co-occurring mental health treatment but you do not have severe symptoms.

The types of therapy used in outpatient programs include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Traditional talk therapy
  • Group counseling
  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Occupational or educational therapy

The Benefits of Outpatient Treatment

While inpatient rehab provides higher levels of structure and accountability in your sobriety, outpatient treatment provides you with the flexibility to continue working or caring for children. However, it is important to remember that this means you will have to be self-motivated in your recovery and accountable for your sobriety.

The benefits of outpatient treatment include:

  • The ability to fulfill outside obligations while attending treatment
  • More cost-effective than inpatient treatment
  • Referrals for medication management
  • More privacy than inpatient treatment
  • Reduced likelihood of needing to travel for treatment
  • The ability to have support from your loved ones during recovery

Who Should Go to Outpatient vs Inpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab is a great choice if you need the flexibility to maintain your career or care for children while receiving addiction care. However, some people are not the right fit when it comes to attending an outpatient rehab program.

If you identify with the following statements, inpatient treatment would suit you better:

  • You struggle with severe addiction issues
  • You have severe co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Relapse is a part of your story
  • You do not have a supportive environment to live in during treatment
  • You need medical detox services

The above-mentioned statements indicate that you would benefit more from an inpatient program than attempting to use outpatient rehab as a standalone treatment.

However, you can use outpatient rehab as a step-down program within a continuum of care. For example, many individuals opt to attend medical detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient rehab, and sober living in that order. This provides you with the best foundation of sobriety possible, making your chances of relapsing much lower.

Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment in Southern California

If you or a loved one suffer from addiction and need help, Arise Treatment Center is here to support you. Whether you require inpatient treatment, outpatient care, or both, our recovery facility has everything you need.

Contact Arise Treatment Center today for more information on our top-rated addiction treatment programs.




We're Ready To Help You Begin A New Life

Our Team of Qualified Addiction Experts are Here to Help