What is the Difference Between Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment?

In rehab, everything hinges on the treatment plan. The type of treatment decides where the patient will be living, and it determines many services that the patient should participate in. There are many questions to ask when it comes to treatment plans, and one of the most important is the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment?

This difference is crucial to understand before beginning treatment. Either option can be preferable depending on the patient’s aspects, such as the substance being abused, how long the addiction has been going on, and social and family obligations.

Suffering from addiction can be a complicated situation to be in. And getting help might seem impossible. However, some people care.

Rehab centers have professionals that want to help and support you through the process of recovery and reaching sobriety. We can help guide you to find the best treatment for your journey. Call us today at (405) 583-4390 for more information on rehab services and treatment plans.


Continue reading below to figure out if inpatient or outpatient treatment is right for you. If you would like more help then please contact our experts today.

Treatment Plans in Rehab

A treatment plan is a process that a patient goes through during rehabilitation. There are several types of programs, and everyone needs a different one, depending on their unique struggles. Before rehab can start, a plan must be decided on. The patient will sit down with a counselor to talk about which method is best for them, but detox may need to come first for that to happen.


Depending on the substance being used, medical detox might be necessary. This is when the patient takes prescription medication in a clinic to help manage their withdrawal symptoms while the body rids itself from the toxins built up from using substances.

Withdrawals can be excruciating, and something fatal, if the correct steps are not taken. After medical detox is over, the counselor and patient will communicate which plan is best for them. However, social detox, which is group-based and does not require medication, can allow the counselor and patient to talk about treatment plans during the process. This discussion, on top of staying away from the substances they have been using, is, in fact, a big part of what social detox is.

Types of Plans

The basic types of treatment plans are:

  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Partial hospitalization

The point of a treatment plan is to either keep the patient with their family for support or to remove the patient from their current environment. The choice will depend on many factors, such as substances being abused, detox requirements, how long the substance has been being used, and many more. Keeping the patient with their family and their everyday activities might be the right choice for some, but others need to remove themselves entirely from destructive, harmful situations, and people.

Changing attitudes and behaviors is the only way to treat addiction, and if the patient continues to make the same choices in day-to-day life, then the substance abuse issue will never go away. This is why rehab centers must pick the best course of action for every individual.

What is Inpatient Treatment?

What is the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment? This is extremely important to understand before choosing a treatment plan. Inpatient treatment, also called residential treatment, is when the patient lives in a rehab facility. This allows the patient to keep away from risky places and people who may enable their destructive behavior.

If the patient remains in the same environment where their addiction arose in the first place, it can be very difficult to overcome that addiction. Certain places or people may be triggers for use, and as such, should be avoided.

The Right Environment

Inpatient treatment also takes the patient away from distractions, such as bills, employment, and social obligations. The patient can take their time and really reflect on what they want in life and how to achieve sobriety. People and hardships cannot pressure the patient into relapsing and using again. It is a highly structured environment, providing a schedule and consistency, which has been proven to have high success rates for those who need it. The patient can anticipate what the day has in store for them, giving them structure. Inpatient substance abuse treatment allows the patient to live in a healthy environment, which encourages and helps them make better, healthier decisions. 

Medical Oversight

There is also 24-hour medical and professional help and intensive care, which makes it a good option for those who suffer from more severe addictions, or who have co-occurring mental disorders, such as depression or schizophrenia. The patients are never alone, as they will have constant help, both medically and in terms of emotional support. Patients will also have people near them who have similar struggles and recovery goals, giving them even more support.

The convenience of this is important, as people in recovery will always be able to help and support each other. Patients will also have the convenience of being close to therapy and other services instead of commuting to them every day or week. Long-term inpatient treatment usually lasts around 6 months to a year, and short-term inpatient treatment can last around 3-6 weeks.

Outpatient Treatment Plan

Outpatient treatment has its differences from inpatient treatment, and you should take time to understand and discuss them before making a decision. Not every treatment plan is going to work for everyone, as everyone has different struggles and issues.

How it Works

Outpatient treatment gives patients daily treatment in therapy, counseling, group therapy, and much more, all at a facility. The patient lives at home during treatment and commutes to the facility. Outpatient substance abuse treatment usually has less intensive support and structure than inpatient treatment. However, there are different levels of therapy that the patient can participate in. Some include support groups, where people with joint issues come together to communicate. There is also one-on-one therapy where the patient and a counselor will speak to each other and get down to the addiction’s core.

The outpatient treatment uses a step-down method, which means that the therapy or group sessions progressively get less intensive and frequent over time. This helps the patient slowly learn how to depend on themselves, which is good for long-term sobriety.

Dependency vs. Addiction

Outpatient treatment usually addresses issues relating to less severe dependency rather than full-blown addiction. (This distinction is tricky, but for the discussion at hand, we can define dependency as a substance abuse case where withdrawals are expected to be mild or mainly psychological). Dependence can be treated in outpatient treatment, but most of the time, addiction will require inpatient treatment.

Outpatient is also a lot more flexible, allowing patients to make their therapy appointments in the evenings and on the weekends, which will enable them to keep jobs, schooling, family, and social obligations.

While outpatient treatment can be perfect for some individuals, some aspects of a person’s life can make it a wrong choice compared to inpatient. Some examples are:

  • A constant urge to use that is uncontrollable.
  • Having a hard time keeping scheduled therapy sessions and rehab obligations
  • Needing treatment for multiple disorders

Do not suffer through addiction alone. We can help you start a healthier life today. Contact our trained professionals today and start living your best life tomorrow.

Inpatient VS. Outpatient Treatment

If you have been wondering, what is the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment, hopefully, the information above has answered your question. However, there are additional ways to break down the fundamental differences between them. These differences include:

  • Where the patient lives
  • How intensive care is
  • Why the patient is in rehab
  • The cost of the treatment

Breaking It Down

There are many differences between inpatient and outpatient treatment, and not everyone will be a good fit for either one. Some people will require the intensive care that comes with inpatient care, and others will need the flexibility and freedom that outpatient treatment offers. Before deciding which option is best for you, it is essential to speak with a counselor at the facility where you will be receiving treatment. Neither option is better as a whole, but instead, better for the individual.

For one, the patient needs to understand whether they are suffering from addiction or dependency. Inpatient treatment is excellent for those who suffer from severe addictions, such as those produced by heroin or excessive alcohol use. On the other hand, outpatient treatment is suitable for those struggling with marijuana or other substances that have a dependency.

If a patient requires medical detox, then they should attend inpatient treatment. Suppose the patient is suffering from multiple addictions, or addiction on top of a co-occurring mental disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia. In that case, there are obvious benefits to going somewhere with intensive care available 24 hours a day. A study conducted in 2014 reported that around 7.9 million adults in the United States had a mental disorder and a substance abuse disorder.

However, those who have a dependency or a less severe addiction, and have many obligations such as school, work, or kids, might find outpatient more suitable. Outpatient treatment is also often less expensive than inpatient treatment. However, it’s important to note that many centers can work out a payment plan or work with insurance if inpatient treatment is required.

Treatment Services

Both types of treatment offer many vital services for their patients, such as:

  • One-on-one therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Educational programs

Everyone should choose the path that will best help them as individuals. It’s also important to remember that everyone has different goals, dreams, and struggles, and no one approach will work for everyone. If you would like additional information about the treatment options near you, then please reach out to our experts today. We can help you determine what the best course of treatment is for you and your needs.

Services in Rehab

Aside from the treatment plan, rehab services are also vital. There are several types of services to choose from, such as:

  • Educational programs
  • Daily trips to the gym
  • Nutritional food planning and eating
  • Hobbies
  • Peer groups
  • Yoga

As with the treatment plan, you should think carefully about the services you need. A counselor can help you decide which services will be most beneficial. For example, group therapy may not benefit one patient for several reasons. One-on-one treatment might be a way for the patient to attend one-on-one therapy and be exempt from groups. Some people may not need family therapy or educational programs but would like to participate in trips to the gym and healthy eating. Everyone will have a unique road to recovery, and it is the job of rehab centers to cater to all the patient’s needs. This is why treatment centers are so good at helping people recover from addiction.

Getting Help for Addiction

“What is the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment” is one of the main questions people have before rehab begins. As we have seen, the choice of a treatment plan in rehab is crucial, and you should take it seriously and think about it carefully. It will determine some other aspects of the treatment, such as where the patient will be living, and how this will impact their lives.

For patients with a less severe addiction or dependency and a lot of obligations in their daily lives (such as schooling, a job, or children), outpatient treatment will be a good fit. However, if someone is suffering from a more severe condition such as addiction to heroin, or is suffering from a mental disorder on top of the addiction, then inpatient would probably benefit them more. Also, medical detox will be necessary for those with a severe addiction, and this should be done in a clinic monitored by medical professionals. This option includes 24-hour access to intensive medical care. 

Contact Us

Our rehab centers have professionals who are not only qualified but compassionate. They want to help you achieve your goals, and make your stay in rehab as comfortable as possible. Oftentimes, our professionals have been through addiction and the recovery process as well, which means they understand how hard it is to have these struggles. They can help you through the process because they have firsthand experience.

On top of the professionals helping, there are peers that are going through the same process as you, and they will have similar struggles to you as well. Together, you can get through this.

Sobriety does not have to be a dream. We can help it become a reality by guiding you through the right steps for your recovery. Call us at (405) 583-4390 for more information on rehab services, rehab professionals, and all that they have to offer.

Written by Hailey Sartain


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