Once you have made the decision and important commitment towards getting clean, you are faced with two major options when it comes to determining your care: inpatient and outpatient programs. There are several key differences between the two, which can help you decide which will be the best course of action in securing your full recovery and future successes. Here’s a look at some of the major differences and factors you will need to consider when making this important choice.

The Main Differences Between Inpatient and Outpatient

  1. Length of program. While the biggest difference in inpatient and outpatient treatments are the location, the duration is also a serious consideration. Inpatient rehabs may take about a month to get started, and require treatment of a minimum of 3 months up to a year. Aftercare services can be provided following your release from the inpatient facility. For outpatient treatment, you will instead attend daily or weekly counseling sessions. You will stay in rehab between 12-16 weeks, and the programs can last for up to several years depending on your own individual needs for treatment and therapy.
  1. Financial constraints: Inpatient therapy is often more expensive by far, because it includes room and board as well as the daily therapy. For traditional outpatient rehab it can cost about $2,000 to $4,000 for more intensive outpatient treatment. For residential programs, it can cost between $10,000 to $20,000 per episode, and the most expensive of rehab programs (think Hollywood) can run up to $35,000 a month! However, each program is very different in this regard.


  1. Assessments: Any type of rehabilitation will include a 1-3 hour interview intake process. From there, you will be regularly assessed throughout your treatment to track your progress, achievements or any difficulties.
  1. Treatment Foundations: All good programs use the same or similar basis of behavioral therapy and psychotherapy. Major components of these include group counseling and group meetings, as well as learning coping mechanisms and new life skills will go into both types of programs, as well as education about the science and causes behind addiction to help you better handle your struggle.
  1. Medical Referrals: As in all types of treatment, if necessary you will be referred to the appropriate doctors for medication that will help you along the process to recovery. This will help you to avoid risk filled behavior and support the progress you are making in treatment.

Making the Decision. When you are choosing between these two major types of treatment, you should consider the other individuals who can help you determine the best course of action for your wellbeing. Talk with those who know you well, including addiction-specialized doctors, licensed social workers, psychologists, and addiction counselors. Additionally, you should consult with family members or close friends if you are leaning towards outpatient therapy. Be sure that you will be in a supportive environment that will help your treatment, not hinder it.

When you are ready, we at Discovery Institute provide a judgement-free support system for all of our clients. For more information, call us today at 800-714-2175.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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