Drug Treatment

Inpatient vs. Outpatient: What’s the Difference During Drug Treatment?


Inpatient and outpatient drug treatment are both standard methods to recover from an addiction. They each have varying pros and cons, but they also suit different types of addicts with different needs. 

As such, the decision between the two options is not easy, and many factors go into making such a decision, including the specifics of the individual’s situation. 

This article explains what you need to know about inpatient vs. outpatient drug treatment before making that decision.

What is Inpatient Substance Abuse Treatment?

Inpatient substance abuse treatment is when a person with an addiction to drugs or alcohol is admitted to a residential treatment program. The person typically stays in this treatment facility for 30, 60, or 90 days, depending on the needs of their situation. 

Inpatient substance abuse treatment is recommended for people who have severe addictions and drug problems and who need a highly structured and supervised environment to get the help they need. 

In addition, those with co-occurring mental health issues such as depression or anxiety often do well in an inpatient program since it provides a safe and secure environment for them to treat both their mental health issues and substance abuse disorder.  

What is Outpatient Drug Treatment?

Outpatient drug treatment is when a person with an addiction to drugs or alcohol comes to a treatment center to receive treatment on a part-time basis. This means the person receives treatment, but they go home in between sessions. 

Outpatient drug treatment is recommended for those with less severe addictions and is best for those who have jobs, families, and other responsibilities.

Key Differences Between Inpatient and Outpatient Drug Treatment

1. Treatment Intensity  

Inpatient drug treatment is more intense than outpatient drug treatment because they are highly structured and patients are under constant supervision. People in residential treatment programs have no choice but to be there since they live in the facility. 

On the other hand, outpatient treatment programs are more flexible and self-directed, and patients have the option to miss sessions and are on their own for meals and transportation. 

2. Location of Treatment

Inpatient drug treatment is typically offered at a treatment center where people stay all day, every day, and treatment is the only thing they do. In addition, they are not allowed to be in constant communication with family and friends while in treatment. 

In outpatient treatment, people go to the treatment center at certain times but are otherwise free to be wherever they want and do what they want. 

3. Cost of Treatment

In general, inpatient drug treatment is more expensive than outpatient drug treatment because it lasts longer and is more intense. However, insurance can cover all or some of the cost depending on the person’s coverage. 

4. Duration of Treatment

In general, inpatient drug treatment lasts longer than outpatient treatment because people stay at the treatment center for a set amount of time. People in inpatient treatment programs typically stay for 30, 60, or 90 days. On the other hand, people in outpatient treatment programs come and go as they please and may attend treatment for weeks or months. 

In Conclusion

As you can see, there are many differences between inpatient and outpatient drug treatment. In general, inpatient drug rehab is more restrictive and offers round-the-clock supervision. Outpatient drug rehab programs are less intensive, giving you the freedom to continue with your normal routine while receiving treatment for substance abuse. 

So, while an inpatient stay may be necessary for some individuals, others might prefer the flexibility of an outpatient program that meets their individual needs. Hopefully, the information highlighted above will make it less confusing when trying to find the best option for you or a loved one.

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