Inpatient Rehab vs Outpatient Rehab - Palm Beach Institute
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Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehab

Which one is better? Which one is for you?

Whether you are struggling with substance abuse issues or if a loved one is struggling with abuse issues, drug rehabilitation and treatment provides an excellent option for overcoming addiction.  Whether it is intensive inpatient drug rehab or outpatient rehab, these programs provide struggling addicts with understanding of the underlying mechanisms that drive their addictive behaviors and teaches valuable coping and life skills so patients are less likely to deal with stressful events by drinking or drugging.  While both inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab have strengths regarding the services they provide, inpatient rehab is seen as the most ideal treatment option in comparison to outpatient rehabilitation.

It is important to understand what both inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment provide.  Ultimately, in comparing inpatient treatment versus outpatient treatment, there are some significant differences that make intensive inpatient treatment the preferred option—especially in regards to long-term recovery outcomes.



Defining Inpatient/Outpatient Rehabilitation Programs and their Similarities

The major difference that can be seen between inpatient and outpatient treatment has to do with where the therapy takes place. Inpatient rehab, also known as intensive inpatient rehab, requires clients to live at the treatment center. Clients usually live with other recovering addicts and have the opportunity to attend daily therapy sessions and support groups.

Outpatient rehabilitation programs, on the other hand, allows the client to continue living at home and engage in their daily activities. Clients visit the treatment center for therapy and other treatments, then return home after their treatment.

Both inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment programs offer similar counseling and therapy options. Clients in both programs can take advantage of both individual and group therapy and counseling sessions. Both programs also offer the opportunity to go to 12-step groups and other support groups.

Intensive inpatient rehab programs and outpatient rehab programs often have similar rules and expectations. For example, clients in both of these groups usually must remain sober while participating in therapy. They must also attend therapy sessions and other recommended treatments on a regular basis and may have to show proof of attendance to staff in order for treatment to continue.



Advantages of Intensive Inpatient Treatment

In comparing inpatient rehab to outpatient rehabilitation options, there are advantages to an intensive inpatient program that will increase the likelihood of sustained recovery.  Those advantages include the following:

  • Access to programs and services—since a patient is living in the treatment facility, they have daily access to counseling, therapy and other interventions as well as around the clock supervision and care by staff.  Unlike outpatient rehab options, inpatient treatment and rehabilitation can offer medical detox services that will stabilize the patient physically and psychologically and provide diagnosis of any co-occurring disorders that may be at the root of the addiction.
  • Peer interaction—unlike outpatient rehab options, inpatient rehab and treatment can offer the client contact peer interaction and support.  Those to go to inpatient rehab are surrounded by others who are struggling with substance abuse which greatly reduces the feelings of isolation that can perpetuate unhealthy behaviors.
  • Structure—in comparing both intensive inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment, a main advantage of inpatient treatment is the structure it provides clients.  The day-to-day schedule of clients are tightly structured with group, counseling, twelve-step meetings, recreation, and other activities. Structure of this magnitude helps minimize distraction and allows clients to focus on recovery.
  • Duration-in a statistical comparison between inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, those who undergo inpatient treatment of 30 days or longer almost double their chances of long-term sobriety.


While there are some advantages that can make outpatient or intensive outpatient treatment more desirable (able to work and love at home, more flexible scheduling, etc.), inpatient rehabilitation and treatment is better structured to address root causes and issues of addiction and provides the intensive life skills and coaching needed to sustain recovery once treatment has been completed.

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