Inpatient Treatment vs. Outpatient

Deciding between inpatient vs outpatient drug rehab can be difficult. The result is the same, a lifetime of sobriety, but both programs take different paths. The right choice is going to come down to your personal needs, the substance you’re addicted to, and how long you have battled addiction. No matter whether you choose inpatient treatment for substance abuse or outpatient drug rehab, the important thing is that you obtain and maintain sobriety.

What is Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment for substance abuse, also known as residential treatment, requires you to check into a controlled environment to treat your addiction. Inpatient treatment gives you around-the-clock medical and emotional support. Fighting addiction should not and actually cannot be done alone. It takes a supportive group around you to succeed. 

It is crucial for you to prepare for inpatient treatment for substance abuse. Even though you don’t have a set amount of time to prepare, it’s vital to have a set date to enter treatment. The amount of preparation depends on the number of responsibilities you have. Making sure all your obligations are handled will allow you to focus on your addiction. Some of your responsibilities may include:

  • Making arrangements with your employer
  • Making living arrangements for children 
  • Planning transportation to and from rehab
  • Finding out what you are allowed to bring to rehab

The Pros and Cons of Inpatient Treatment

There is no universal or “one-size-fits-all treatment program; no single program works for everyone. The treatment that will work for you is the one that meets your unique needs. If you are considering inpatient treatment for substance abuse, it is crucial to weigh the pros and cons. 


The benefits of inpatient treatment for substance abuse include:

  • A safe and sober environment
  • Medical monitoring during detox
  • Psychiatric monitoring during recovery
  • Medication management to help with co-occurring conditions
  • Reduced risk of relapse due to close supervision
  • Intensive therapy sessions
  • A large support group of counselors, therapists, and other patients
  • Less exposure to triggers
  • Alternative therapy options, such as yoga and animal-assisted therapies
  • An increased chance of lifelong sobriety


There are only a few cons to inpatient treatment for substance abuse. But it is essential to know the drawbacks.

  • Limited access to family and the outside world 
  • Time away for work, school, and family responsibilities
  • Costs more due to the room and board fees

What is Outpatient Drug Rehab?

When comparing inpatient vs. outpatient rehab, outpatient drug rehab gives you more flexibility than inpatient treatment for substance abuse. Programs in outpatient drug rehab involve daytime or evening therapy sessions while living at home. In outpatient drug rehab, you have access to psychiatrists for medication to treat preexisting conditions, withdrawal symptoms, and cravings. 

Treatment in outpatient drug rehab is similar to inpatient treatment, but it’s less intense. Therapy sessions focus on substance abuse education, healing the past, and building a sober life. Some of the following therapies may be a part of outpatient drug rehab.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you become aware of negative thoughts and behaviors. You’ll learn how to change negative thoughts and actions to positive and healthy ones. 
  • Contingency management works on a reward system. Positive and sober choices produce rewards, while unhealthy choices remove rewards. 
  • Motivational interviewing helps identify and heal feelings that are keeping you from getting sober. 
  • Matrix model works by empowering you through positive self-image and building confidence in yourself. 
  • Multidimensional family therapy is used mainly for families of teenagers with addiction issues. Therapists help repair families and help them function better. 

Pros and Cons of Outpatient Drug Rehab

Outpatient drug rehab comes with its own set of pros and cons. It’s vital to consider all the negatives and positives before jumping into outpatient treatment. 


  • Reduced cost by living at home
  • You can work and continue your education
  • Support from friends and family
  • Instant use of relapse prevention tools


  • Lack of around-the-clock care during recovery
  • Increased possible access to drugs and alcohol
  • Increased risk of relapse due to unhealthy environments
  • The dangerous risks of unsupervised detox

What is the Cost Difference Between Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab?

No matter whether you choose inpatient treatment for substance abuse or outpatient drug rehab, the important thing is that you maintain sobriety.

Inpatient treatment for substance abuse is more expensive than outpatient drug rehab. The increased cost is to cover room and board fees for your time in treatment. Outpatient drug rehab doesn’t have that added expense since you live at home.

Each treatment center varies as far as pricing goes. So, it’s important to avoid relying on online sources to give you the pricing information you need. However, some examples of treatment costs based on research include:

  • 30-day Inpatient treatment: $400 – $900 per day, or $14,000 – $27,000 total
  • 60-day Inpatient treatment: $300 – $800 per day, or $24,000 – $45,000 total
  • 90-day Inpatient treatment: $200 – $700 per day, or $33,000 – $58,000 total
  • Intensive Outpatient treatment: $100 – $500 per treatment session

The total cost of an intensive outpatient program (IOP) is dependant on the duration of the program and how often you attend treatment sessions. Generally, it costs less the longer the program. Standard outpatient drug rehab requires you to attend at least two meetings a week for 2 hours per session.

Determining Which Addiction Rehab Program is Best: Inpatient vs Outpatient Rehab?

One of the most important decisions you can make for yourself is to get help for your addiction. Selecting a treatment program can be overwhelming. This is an important decision and should be thought about thoroughly. It can be difficult, but it’s vital to answer the following questions honestly. Your answers will help you decide which treatment option gives you the best chances at complete recovery. 

  • Can you leave your job or school?
  • Do you have a strong and sober support system?
  • Do you have any co-occurring mental health disorders?
  • Will you have help with childcare while you’re in treatment?
  • Are any family members abusing substances around you?
  • Is your home environment stable, supportive, and sober?
  • Can you resist the temptations and triggers that can lead to relapse?
  • Can you afford the cost of inpatient treatment for substance abuse?
  • Do you have reliable transportation to treatment?
  • Do you need special assistance, such as handicap assistance or gender-specific treatment?

You should also consider these points when deciding between inpatient vs. outpatient drug rehab:

  • The treatment program you choose should treat the physical and psychological aspects of addiction – Research shows that when you address both your physical and psychological addiction-related issues, you reduce the chances of relapsing. You must select a facility that offers complete treatment. 
  • Choosing a treatment center that is accredited is vital – It’s also important to make sure the therapists that are treating you are licensed or certified in treating substance use disorders. The treatment center that you attend and the therapists there should have their certificates displayed. If they don’t, you should ask them about their certificates. You can visit the National Review of State Alcohol and Drug Treatment Programs to confirm what certifications your state requires. 

How Long Does Treatment Take?

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the longer you stay in treatment, the better the recovery outcome. You should remain in a treatment program for a minimum of 30 days. 

Studies show 90 days of treatment is conducive to lifelong sobriety. 90 days of treatment doesn’t have to all be done in inpatient treatment. The 90 days can include transitioning into outpatient treatment. 

Some individuals require a more extended stay in inpatient treatment for substance abuse before they transition into outpatient drug rehab. Both inpatient treatment and outpatient drug rehab can help you develop a relapse prevention plan. But if you do relapse, inpatient and outpatient rehab offer additional support to get you back on track.

There are a variety of treatment program lengths. The length of time that you should spend in treatment is based on the type and duration of your addiction and any co-occurring disorders that you may suffer from. Treatment programs include:

  • 28-30 day treatment program
  • 60-day treatment program
  • 90-day treatment program
  • Extended-care programs

An effective treatment plan for substance use disorder includes inpatient treatment for substance abuse, outpatient treatment, follow-up counseling, and aftercare programs. Your fight against addiction doesn’t end when you complete rehab. It’s a lifelong battle to stay sober. Addiction is a chronic disease that will require you to continue the ongoing support and monitoring available in aftercare. 

Family Support in Inpatient vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab

Both inpatient treatment centers and outpatient drug rehabs understand the importance of family support when battling substance use disorders. Generally, at the beginning of inpatient treatment for substance abuse though, you might not be able to contact family members, including your children. 

This allows you to focus on yourself and your recovery. And this allows your therapists to access if your relationships are healthy and encouraging of your sobriety. Each treatment facility has its own rules on communication with the outside world. Some centers offer counseling sessions to your family members

When you’re in outpatient drug rehab, it’s up to you when and how often you interact with your family. In outpatient treatment, you have the extra support of your family and friends, but this isn’t always positive. Most people who battle addiction hang out with others who also battle addiction. It can be challenging to separate yourself from these “friends.” 

The similarities and differences between inpatient vs. outpatient rehab

The key to deciding which friends who battle addiction to separate from is in if that friend is still using substances in current time or is sober. If a friend that you once used drugs with is still using drugs, then you shouldn’t interact with that friend anymore. If a friend that you once used drugs with has also gotten sober and stopped using drugs, then you can still hang out with that friend. In fact, a friend that is also in addiction recovery could act as a valuable member of your support group. 

It’s vital to your sobriety to attend 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. This will further help you build a strong sober support group. Surrounding yourself with sober and positive people increases your chances of a life free from drugs and alcohol.

North Jersey Recovery Center is Waiting To Help You!

Deciding to get sober is hard enough. Let our knowledgeable admission coordinators answer all your questions and ease the stress of picking a program. What are you waiting for? Contact us today!