Inpatient Versus Outpatient Rehab Treatment: 7 Differences You Should Know


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According to a report, more than 19 million USA residents were diagnosed with substance abuse disorder in 2020. 

Pretty alarming, right? 

Due to various lifestyle choices and reasons, the issue of substance abuse has become pretty prominent in the USA. If not treated carefully, it can cause cardiovascular issues, liver damage, infections, neurological issues, etc. In some cases, it can also lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and cause an eating disorder for many people. 

People in the intpatient rehab are supporting the girl

Thus, taking care of the issue of drug addiction should be the top priority for you or someone you know. But, how to choose eating disorder treatment center in California ?

When it comes to taking care of substance abuse disorder, you can choose between two different treatment options. These are – 

  • Inpatient rehab
  • Outpatient rehab

While the core treatment procedure of these two is pretty similar to each other, you’ll need to know about their differences too. This way, it will be easier for you to know which one is the right option for you. Keep scrolling to find out more about this topic! 

What Is an Inpatient Treatment?

Otherwise known as residential treatment, an inpatient rehab session will require patients to keep themselves in a medically-controlled environment. Therefore, in this case, you will have to stay in the clinic for a specific period of time to get proper emotional and medical support. 

How Should You Prepare for It? 

As mentioned before, you’ll have to stay 24×7 in a healthcare center during an inpatient rehab period. Thus, it will be critical for you to set a proper entry date and settle your affairs prior to that. Here are a few aspects that you should take care of before involving in the rehab –

  • Discussing with your employer about the treatment.
  • Finding a well-maintained living arrangement for your family members or children.
  • Gathering the personal items that are allowed in the clinic.

What Is an Outpatient Treatment? 

Unlike inpatient rehab, an outpatient treatment procedure tends to be less restrictive. While undergoing this form of therapy, you will have to stay in the healthcare center for 10-12 hours under proper medical guidance.

An outpatient session usually focuses on:

  • Individual or group counseling.
  • Education regarding drug abuse.
  • Teaching the process of coping with drug addiction.

Usually, this type of treatment procedure lasts for three to six months – almost like an inpatient program. Also, there’s no need to prepare for anything, as you can come back to your home in between the therapeutic sessions.

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment – Differences 

Although there are similarities regarding the treatment procedure, an outpatient and an inpatient treatment differ pretty vastly in other aspects. 

A guy is talking to a doctor at the rehab

Here’s what you need to know about it. 

1. Treatment Period 

As mentioned before, you will have to be in the clinic 24×7 during an inpatient treatment session. Moreover, depending on your health condition, the whole procedure can last for more than a year or so. 

Conversely, you’ll need to go to the clinic to undergo an outpatient procedure regularly and spend 10-12 hours in the clinic. It also doesn’t last for too long (around six months, if your case is too severe). 

2. Psychological and Physical Evaluation 

Before you get into inpatient care, the doctor will initiate a physical and psychological evaluation. This way, they can understand the severity of your problem and treat you accordingly to improve your health efficiently.

However, in an outpatient procedure, the doctor won’t make any physical assessment of the patient. They’ll only check the psychological aspects of the person and curate the treatment procedure in accordance with it. 

3. Restriction 

The level of restriction tends to be pretty high in the case of inpatient treatment. For example, some organizations might ask you not to use your mobile phone or laptop during the treatment period. You may only see your relatives once every month as well. 

An outpatient procedure is much less restrictive than inpatient rehab. You can access your mobile phone, go to your home after the session ends, and take calls in between. 

4. Individual or Group Counseling 

An inpatient procedure focuses more on individual counseling than group sessions. The latter tends to be more of a formality where people share their substance-related issues and offer support to each other. 

On the other hand, in an outpatient session, group counseling is considered to be more of a priority. However, some organizations also offer individual attention to the patient depending on how they’re coping with their situation.

5. Cost of Treatment 

In inpatient rehab, you will be provided with a separate board and room. Besides, the organization will take care of your other daily needs, such as eating, taking a bath, etc. Due to this reason, this type of treatment tends to be much more expensive. 

Comparatively, an outpatient session will be much more affordable, as it doesn’t require any form of physical support. Once you are done with your daily therapy, you can simply return to your home and take care of your needs accordingly. 

6. Availability of Family Counseling 

Although this is highly subjective, most inpatient care providers don’t offer family counseling to their patients. 

A young couple is sitting on the sofa at a family counselling

However, in most cases, family counseling tends to be an integral part of outpatient rehab treatment. It’s usually undertaken so that a family knows how to deal with suffering caused by the addiction and help the patient accordingly. 

7. Ideal Option 

In essence, an outpatient procedure tends to be ideal for an individual who’s beginning to understand the recurrence of their addiction. As it has a low level of intensity, it won’t be effective on someone dealing with substance disorder for quite some time. 

In case your level of substance abuse disorder is too high, you will need to opt for an inpatient session. It will offer a lot more stability and lead to the road to recovery in a stern yet more effective manner. It will also help you to deal with mental health issues, like depression, anxiety. 

The Bottom Line 

In truth, choosing the ideal rehab session or strategy will solely depend on your requirements. For example, if you think that your addiction is too severe, undergoing an inpatient procedure will be an excellent move for you. Contrarily, minor addiction issues can be comfortably addressed through an outpatient process. 

Hopefully, our guide has helped you learn about both of these alternatives to some extent. Nonetheless, if you still have any queries, make sure to jot them down in the comment section below. We will answer you as soon as we can.