Anyone who seeks substance abuse treatment will need to choose a type of rehab. While there are several levels of care available, inpatient rehab and outpatient treatment are the two most basic that you should know about.

Each treatment setting has its advantages and disadvantages. While inpatient rehab offers more structure and support, outpatient care allows patients to continue to work and live at home.

Choosing between these two types of care is not about figuring out which one is ‘better’. It is about knowing what to expect from each rehab setting and choosing the one that fits your needs best.

Below, we outline some of the main differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab so you can make an informed decision between the two.

Cost Difference Between Inpatient & Outpatient Treatment

Like all types of healthcare in the U.S., the cost of substance abuse care can get expensive. Fortunately, many insurance plans will cover all or part of your expenses.

In general, inpatient rehab is more expensive than outpatient. However, there are many factors that will influence how expensive your rehab program is. They include:

  • Length of program: Of course, the longer you remain in treatment, the more expensive it will be. Still, that doesn’t mean that choosing a shorter program is the right thing to do just because it’s cheaper – you need to give yourself time to heal.
  • Treatment center: Some treatment centers are more expensive than others. While it is generally true that ‘you get what you pay for’, it’s still smart to compare several treatment centers to get an idea of what each facility offers, and at what cost.
  • Insurance: Make sure to consult with your insurance company about what is and is not covered. It may be the case that certain types of treatment or even certain facilities are covered, while others are not.

Inpatient rehab is usually the more expensive option, but remember that you are getting much more support for your money. At an inpatient rehab, you would be living and receiving care in the same setting.

The Difference in Stay: Outpatient vs Inpatient

Both inpatient and outpatient programs are offered in a variety of lengths. How long you stay in rehab may have a major impact on the success of your recovery.

Keep in mind that many patients start in rehab, and transition to outpatient care. Common program lengths for inpatient rehab are 30, 60, and 90 days – but it is recommended to stay for at least 90 days if you want to give yourself a better chance of long-term success.

Outpatient care can go on for varying lengths of time. In some cases, patients stay in some form of outpatient care for their entire life.

A person’s length of stay in treatment depends upon their situation. Every addiction is different and every person has different needs for treatment. You should always work closely with treatment providers and follow their advice as to when you are ready to end treatment.

The Difference in Treatment: Outpatient vs Inpatient

Inpatient and outpatient care have one fundamental difference: Inpatient rehab offers far more support because patients live in the treatment center. This added level of support is key because it removes patients from toxic environments and surrounds them with positive influences.

When it comes to actual treatment methods, many of the same techniques are used in both settings. All of the following treatments can be found in both inpatient and outpatient settings:

  • Therapy, including behavioral therapies
  • Group meetings
  • 12-step programs
  • Medication
  • Treatment for co-occurring mental disorders
  • Drug testing

Inpatient rehabs tend to offer more supportive treatment alongside these main techniques. Activity therapy such as art, yoga, and meditation is more common at inpatient rehab. This is because patients at rehab have all day, every day to receive care, while outpatients only have a few hours per week.

No matter which type of rehab you choose, treatment usually starts with detox. Detox is a good way to start treatment off on the right foot.

Which One is Better, Outpatient or Inpatient Treatment?

When comparing inpatient vs outpatient care, you need to understand that neither is ‘better’ than the other. However, given your unique needs and situation, there may be a type of treatment that better fits your needs.

The best treatment is the one that best fits your unique needs. For example, if you are a single mother who needs to continue working to support your family, and you have a strong support network at home, outpatient rehab may be the best option to fit your needs.

A great way to figure out what treatment is best for you is to work with addiction specialists. To start on the road to recovery, call Rehab Adviser today. They can perform an evaluation and help you decide what kind of treatment approach will work for you.


  2. treatment usually starts with detox

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