Differences between Inpatient & Outpatient Rehabilitation

With the problem of drug addiction affecting over 20 million people in America, the need for treatment continues to grow. There are many drug rehab centers in each state across the country. Each one of these drug rehab centers offers their own unique programs to guide their patients towards a successful recovery from addiction. The length of these programs varies, as does the style of the facilities themselves. While each individual program is unique, there are generally two types of treatment at drug rehab centers—inpatient and outpatient. Just like each program is different, so is every addiction. When looking to treat drug addiction, it’s important to consider your individual needs and incorporate these into your personalized treatment plan.

What Is Inpatient Rehabilitation?

Inpatient rehabilitation programs require that a patient stays in the drug rehab center full-time. Inpatient treatment programs are also referred to as residential treatment. While receiving inpatient drug addiction treatment, patients will be given 24-7 access to medical and emotional support. This option is ideal for those suffering from severe addictions.

Inpatient treatment provides an environment free from the distractions of everyday life so that patients can devote their entire selves to making a full recovery. During inpatient treatment, a patient’s entire day is curated by a team of experienced professionals at the drug rehab center. Various types of therapies—individual, peer, and family—will be employed as well as sessions devoted to teaching the life skills necessary to recover from addiction.

If you choose to undergo inpatient treatment for a drug addiction, you will need to make sure that all of your affairs are in order before you check into the drug rehab center. That means coordinating childcare or time off from work.

What Is Outpatient Rehabilitation?

When patients at drug rehab facilities are enrolled in an outpatient rehabilitation program, they are allowed to return home each day after treatment. Outpatient programs are ideal for people that wish to maintain a certain level of responsibility in their lives or for people with less severe addictions. Additionally, many people that have already undergone inpatient rehabilitation may elect to continue their treatment through an outpatient program.

Typically, patients taking part in outpatient rehabilitation devote between 10 and 12 hours each week to treatment at a drug rehab center. During these 10-12 hours, they will take part in educational sessions devoted to teaching methods for confronting their addictions as well as counseling sessions that will help uncover the deep roots of their problems.

Outpatient treatment for drug addiction can allow patients to retain a certain level of responsibilities in their lives. Patients can coordinate their work and treatment schedules so that their life doesn’t have to stop while they work towards conquering their addictions.

How Do I Choose Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation?

Tackling drug addiction is not an easy feat. It’s important to understand that each addiction is unique. Because they are unique, each addiction will need to be treated differently. When you enter a drug rehab facility, the professional staff will work with you to build a tailored program to meet your needs. They will evaluate the severity of your addiction and help guide you towards either an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.

When making this choice, there are factors other than the severity of your addiction to recover. Of course, if your addiction greatly interferes with your daily life, an inpatient program will give you the fresh start you need. Conversely, if you are confident in your ability to maintain your responsibilities while tackling your addiction, an outpatient treatment plan may be best for you. Outpatient programs require a more dedicated effort than inpatient programs, as a lot of the effort will not be done for you. Regardless of the program you choose, the choice to enroll in drug abuse treatment is one that you should be proud of.


Addiction is a life-threatening disease that affects people across the country. With the help of drug rehab facilities, more and more people suffering from addiction can face this problem head-on. Each drug rehab center offers its own unique treatment programs, though there are two main types. Inpatient programs provide a safe environment conducive to recovery for those with severe addictions. Outpatient programs are often chosen by those with less severe addictions that wish to maintain independence in their lives. Additionally, outpatient programs are an effective follow-up to those that have completed inpatient treatment. Ultimately, choosing to seek addiction treatment is a victory in itself, but the choice between these programs is dependent on your own specific needs.