Inpatient vs Outpatient

January 26, 2024

Outpatient or Inpatient?

All addiction treatment programs have similarities and disparities. Discover the differences to decide which type of care is best for you. When it comes to drug and alcohol treatment, most patients typically admit into an inpatient or outpatient center. While both of these levels of care provide comparable services to treat addiction — like evidence-based behavioral therapy and medically assisted treatment— they have differences in supervision and clinical time.

The choice to join in inpatient or outpatient care is a crucial one. Grasping the differences between these two programs is key to deciding what is best for you or a family member.

Inpatient Treatment Features

Inpatient treatment refers to the treatment of substance use disorders in an Inpatient rehab often begins with medically assisted detoxification. After completing inpatient treatment, clients may step down to more flexible care options like outpatient treatment so they can practice newfound recovery skills while still receiving clinical support.

Most inpatient programs are a combination of detox and residential care. Each patient lives at the treatment facility full-time and is under 24/7 supervision. At the same time, the most obvious advantage is seclusion from addiction environment and program intensity. While inpatient programs can differ between centers, most have familiar features, including:

  • 30+ day treatment stays
  • Comprehensive behavioral therapy
  • Medication assisted treatment
  • Care for co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Adventure / activity therapy
  • 12-step integration

Challenges of Inpatient Care

  • No work/school during treatment
  • Limited contact with friends/family
  • Many health insurance providers may not cover inpatient
  • Higher level of care is costly – high deductibles may apply

Features of Outpatient Program

During outpatient treatment, patients are able to continue their normal daily behaviors. Outpatient treatment can be scheduled around a person’s work hours to avoid interruption and offering patients flexibility while still providing quality addiction treatment. Also, outpatient is the least expensive level of care.

Like inpatient programs, outpatient treatment and drug rehab programs can vary, but the core services include most of the same highlights including:

  • 90-day average treatment
  • Individual and family therapy
  • Medically assisted treatment
  • Advance pharmacology
  • 12-Step support
  • Court-ordered classes
  • Toxicology
  • Case management

Downside to Outpatient Care

The most obvious concern in outpatient care is supervision. While patients receive treatment throughout the week, they are independent. Outpatient is not a place for someone for needs acute care and observation. For this reason, new patients are carefully evaluated for admission and must be medically stable.

Benefits of Drug Court

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