Inpatient Vs. Outpatient Rehab Treatment

Deciding whether you need inpatient or outpatient substance abuse treatment often requires careful consideration. Both types of programs offer people who struggle with addiction an alternative way to achieve long-term sobriety. You need to determine which level of care is best suited to meet your needs. To be able to do so, you will need to know what an inpatient program is and what kind of benefits they provide for their patients. You can then begin seeking addiction treatment from a reputable drug rehabilitation facility. 

Deciding whether to go for an inpatient or outpatient rehab program depends largely upon your individual circumstances, the severity of your condition, and how long the problem has existed. It is essential that both the individual who suffers from a substance use disorder (SUD) and their family members be aware of the differences between these programs prior to choosing one. The two different forms of addiction treatments are discussed below.

What Is Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient rehab, also known as residential treatment programs, usually requires patients to stay in a facility for a minimum of 28 days. This allows the patient to heal from their addiction in a controlled environment to begin recovery. An important aspect of inpatient treatment for a substance use disorder is that it provides you with immediate access to clinical and medical staff during the early stage of your recovery. At an inpatient rehab, patients will receive round-the-clock medical care and emotional support. 

In order for someone to be able to get sober from addiction, they must go through an initial period of detoxification. Medically supervised, residential facilities offer a higher degree of safety and monitoring than outpatient programs. Withdrawal symptoms may be different in intensity, depending upon how long and how large an amount of substance was used by the individual.

Typical Day During An Inpatient Program for SUD

Residents can be more focused during their stay because they don’t have to worry about things like work, family responsibilities, etc. Inpatient care requires careful scheduling and accounting for each individual’s time. An assigned medical team of counselors, nurses, and psychiatrists will meet with patients in group settings and individually to help support recovery healing. Inpatient programs typically last between 28 days and 6 months.

Riverside Recovery of Tampa’s inpatient program provides an intensive, highly structured environment designed to educate each patient on their substance use disorder and treat the underlying factors that contributed to their addiction. Our medical team will begin creating an individualized treatment plan upon admission. Our program also provides patients with therapeutic recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, and basketball. 

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What is Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment is a level of care that can be useful for a variety of issues, including drug abuse, alcoholism, or addiction to opioids, to name a few. Outpatient programs can be a lifesaver for people who have family, career, or school responsibilities that rule out inpatient treatment. Programs for outpatient treatment vary, depending on the patient’s needs and the facility, but they typically meet a couple of times a week for a few hours at a time.

In outpatient treatment centers, patients live at home but attend individual therapy and group meetings several times per week. In outpatient rehab programs, patients typically spend between 10 and 12 hours per week at an addiction rehab facility.

Patients still receive extensive education about drug use and alcoholism and help develop tools for dealing with cravings. An outpatient program can be a great option for individuals with a more mild addiction and who don’t require 24-hour care. Patients typically stay for three to six months or more than one year depending on their progress during recovery.

Deciding Between Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

In order to decide whether an individual needs inpatient care or outpatient treatment, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Has the individual been unsuccessful in rehab before?
  • Will daily stress affect my ability to get the best results from my treatment?
  • Are there daily triggers or temptations at home or work?
  • Will familiar connections and friends get in the way of my recovery process?
  • Will inpatient rehab help to feel more safe and secure?

If the answer is “yes” to any of the above questions, an inpatient treatment facility might be the best chance for successful recovery. If you’re interested in finding residential care, the admissions team at Riverside Recovery of Tampa can provide additional information.

Key Differences

A key difference between inpatient care and outpatient care is the level of medical attention provided to patients. All patients who enter an inpatient program typically receive constant medical attention. In addition, detoxification is often available at some inpatient drug rehab facilities where patients can be carefully monitored. In the case of someone with an alcohol use disorder, for instance, inpatient treatment through an alcohol residential program will be more effective in monitoring positive or negative detoxification from alcohol. If an individual’s health declines, the treatment team can provide medical assistance, if needed.

Another key difference is cost– Outpatient programs are typically more affordable than inpatient treatment programs. This is usually because outpatient programs provide fewer therapy hours, less hands-on medical care, and do not provide housing during treatment. The cost differences should not sway you from choosing which treatment program works best for you. 


Medical Disclaimer: The information we provide online is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other licensed healthcare providers. Riverside Recovery of Tampa aims to provide and publish well-researched and cited information.