How Do I Know If I Would Benefit More From Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment?

How Do I Know If I Would Benefit More From Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment? Most addiction rehabilitation programs may either be classified as inpatient or outpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment is when an individual receives 24 hour care for their addiction while they live at a facility. Outpatient treatment is when a person receives treatment for part of the day and continues to live at their home.

Choosing between inpatient or outpatient treatment often depends on how long a person has suffered from their addiction, whether they have a healthy and supportive home environment and whether the patient is a danger to themselves or others.

How Do I Know If I Would Benefit More From Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment?

In 2012, more than 20 million Americans over the age of 11 admitted to using an illicit drug or medication without a prescription in the past thirty days according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Additionally, only about half of individuals who suffered from addiction to these substances received treatment, and many find it difficult to recover without the help of medical assistance according to NIDA.

Studies have shown that inpatient treatment may be more effective than outpatient treatment since individuals are less likely to relapse than those who received 24 hour care in a controlled setting.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment typically requires patients suffering from addiction to live at a facility for a period of time. This amount is usually between one to three months although it can vary on a patient to patient basis.

Rehabilitation may include cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a therapeutic approach to address negative behaviors. Therapy may be provided in a group setting or on an individual basis. Patients will also have the opportunity to interact with other individuals overcoming addictions. They will also benefit from having structure in their lives in a safe setting. Typically, all meals and necessities will be provided, so a patient may focus on recovery.

Many people suffer withdrawal symptoms after suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction including depression, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, paranoia and psychosis. In an inpatient treatment setting, medical professionals may assist in relieving certain withdrawal symptoms with the help of techniques such as massage therapy, vitamin therapy, acupuncture, and many others, or by lowering dosages of the particular drug gradually. Some withdrawal symptoms such as convulsions are potentially life-threatening and require medical assistance to monitor a patient’s vital signs. How Do I Know If I Would Benefit More From Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment?


  • Daily access to therapy
  • Interaction with others
  • Meals and necessities are provided
  • Structure in a safe setting
  • 24/7 support and monitoring
  • No access to negative influences


  • No living at home
  • Typically unable to attend work or school
  • Only seeing friends and family during visiting days

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is typically provided for a few hours a day a few times a week to patients suffering from addiction. It may be provided on an individual basis, in a group setting or with family members. While outpatient treatment may be beneficial after a person has received inpatient treatment, according to several rehabilitation surveys, patients who receive outpatient treatment for addiction are twice as likely to relapse versus those that received inpatient treatment for the same condition. This is because those receiving outpatient treatment must execute great diligence to avoid going back to detrimental behaviors. They also may not live in the best environment for recovery and suffer from negative influences. Although a patient may continue to work and attend school while receiving outpatient treatment, without focusing on their recovery it may be difficult to overcome addiction.


  • Ability to continue to attend work or school
  • Greater privacy and anonymity
  • Some support


  • No structure
  • Greater possibility of negative influences
  • Less support
  • Greater chance of relapse
  • No 24/7 monitoring

Choosing a Treatment

Although over 22 million Americans in 2009 suffered from a drug or alcohol addiction, only about 11 million received treatment according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. This is concerning because many addictions are difficult to overcome without medical help. Choosing a treatment program is best done with the help of a medical professional who may help a patient decide what would be most beneficial to their recovery. A person may need to consider whether their daily stress or environment is the best setting for their recovery. They may also need to evaluate whether their health insurance plan covers treatment for addiction. Most health insurance plans and all health insurance plans purchased through the national insurance exchange cover addiction treatment. Many patients choose an inpatient treatment, and later get care from an outpatient setting as a form of long-term support.

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