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Feb 05 | Posted By

Inpatient Vs Outpatient Treatment

Inpatient vs outpatient treatment: Which is right for me?

The day you or a loved one decide to enteraddiction treatment can be both an exhilarating and terrifying one. Everything after today will change.

Now that you’ve decided to go to treatment, which one will you go to? This may be a question you never considered, because, really, how many kinds of treatment are there?

You may be surprised to hear, then, that there are an overwhelming number of different treatment types based on modalities, services available, and how their programs are delivered.

So now you’re probably even more overwhelmed at the prospect of entering treatment since there are so many options to choose from.

Don’t give up hope! This blog will help you in your search for suitable addiction treatment.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment (which can include services like counseling, group therapy, and aftercare) is a type of treatment considered more intensive than peer-support groups and self-help meetings, but has less resources than inpatient – or residential – treatment centers. This type of treatment is usually offered 1-2x/week for 3 hours each session. Depending on the clients needs, the amount of sessions per individuals will vary. Sessions can be provided through individual and group formats.

The most common type of outpatient treatment is publicly funded (i.e. at no charge to the client) and is generally offered in community-based facilities.

Who is Outpatient Treatment Suitable for?

These clinics generally share many similarities with residential treatment programs. The most visible difference between these programs is the environment and level of “freedom” available. The most obvious difference is that clients go home at the end of the day in outpatient clinics. There are many benefits and disadvantages (dependent on the person) to this program type:


  • Can maintain routines and obligations during treatment
  • Don’t need to take a leave from work
  • Can maintain work and family responsibilities
  • Can practise and implement skills learned in treatment right away
  • Can receive continually in-person support from friends, family, and other support networks
  • Can maintain privacy and anonymity more than if he or she were to attend an inpatient facility
  • Able to utilize other support resources while in treatment (e.g. life coaching and peer-support meetings)
  • Avoid potential challenges of reintegrating into daily life after time away at treatment


  • Not as safe and secluded away from former negative influences like in residential treatment
  • Many opportunities that tempt cravings and challenge willpower
  • Individuals whom contribute to the struggle of addiction are still continuously interacted with
  • Clients in outpatient treatment require more diligence during off hours
  • Distractions arising in everyday life may inhibit progress in treatment
What about Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient – also known as residential – treatment programs are generally the program people envision when they think “drug rehab”. These can be publicly funded or private facilities. Residential treatment generally has more resources and services than in public and nonprofit facilities.


  • More resources to treat issues and conditions alongside addiction (e.g. mental health or trauma)
  • Private, safe environment away from distractions, drama, and challenges of home
  • Healthy barrier between family and friends (if necessary)
  • Most inpatient treatment programs also offer family/couples programs and counseling
  • Develop close knit peer group
  • 24 hour care for medical needs
  • Detox services often available
  • Ability to focus on physical and psychological healing that is not always easily achievable in outpatient settings
  • Structured program to help clients stay on track


  • Clients will require time off work which may mean less privacy in getting treatment
  • Private facilities (which are easier to attend) can be costly
  • Transition between inpatient treatment and home can be stressful
  • Stress experienced while returning home may encourage relapse
  • Can’t practice learned skills as easily or on a daily basis (must wait until after treatment)

Which program you choose for yourself or a loved one will depend on how each fits your needs and health requirements. For example, if you need detox and care for a mental health issue, it may be more suitable to attend a residential program. On the other hand, if you’re relatively healthy in all other aspects and have the motivation and discipline to attend treatment on top of your current responsibilities, outpatient many be an optimal choice.

Why Choose When you can do Both

Some people will attend both facilities. For example, an individual may try an outpatient clinic and struggle to balance the needs of therapy with their regular responsibilities. Attending inpatient treatment can allow people like this to focus more on personal healing and improvement since they temporarily don’t need to worry about daily obligations. Clients post-treatment will also sometimes transition to outpatient clinics if they feel they need continued support once they return home.


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