Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab: Which Is the Right Choice for You?

Approximately 23.5 million Americans are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Do you or someone that you love struggle with addiction?

If you are, you may need to consider going to rehab. 

There are a lot of different options available to you as far as rehab is concerned. Most rehabilitation programs are either inpatient programs or outpatient programs.

Not sure which to choose between inpatient vs. outpatient rehab? If so, keep reading.

Explained below are some of the important pieces of information you need to know about each option. You’ll also find some tips that will help you decide which option is right for you.

Inpatient Rehab: Pros and Cons

As the name suggests, inpatient rehabilitation takes place in a treatment facility. When you attend inpatient rehab, you stay in a facility for a period of time — often 30, 60, or 90 days, although some last even longer.

While you stay in this facility, you will have access to a variety of treatment resources, including medical professionals and therapists, to help you overcome your addiction.

The following are some of the pros and cons of choosing an inpatient rehabilitation facility:


When you stay in an inpatient rehabilitation facility, you will be supervised 24 hours per day by trained staff members, therapists, and medical professionals. You’ll never feel alone while you begin the recovery process. 

In an inpatient facility, you will also be surrounded by others who are going through the same thing as you. You’ll have access to a community, which is crucial when you’re trying to overcome an addiction.

Inpatient facilities often provide you with access to medication that will help minimize withdrawal symptoms and make it easier for you to detox and begin your recovery. 

While you’re staying in this kind of facility, you also will not be distracted by everyday life activities. You won’t have to deal with stressors and potential triggers, nor will you be surrounded by temptations.


Of course, there are some downsides to inpatient rehab, too. 

Some people resent that inability to come and go as they please, and they feel stifled by the structured environment. 

If you have a family, you will need to make arrangements for childcare while you’re receiving treatment. This can be expensive and inconvenient for some people.

You’ll have to take leave from your job, too, which can be a strain financially. 

Speaking of financials, inpatient treatment can also be costly, especially since insurance providers typically only pay for outpatient treatment.

Outpatient Rehab: Pros and Cons

Unlike an inpatient program, you do not have to check yourself into a facility when you participate in outpatient programs.

If you’re involved in an outpatient program, you’ll attend treatment during the day and then go on with your life outside of the program.

These programs can last anywhere from three months to more than a year. When you participate in these programs, you still have access to medical and mental health professionals, as well as other recovery resources.

The following are some of the pros and cons of choosing an outpatient program over an inpatient program:


Outpatient programs are structured so that you can continue your daily activities. There’s no need to take leave from your job, find childcare for your kids, or take make any other arrangements. 

Outpatient programs have flexible options for counseling sessions and other treatments. You can attend them during the day, in the evening, or even on the weekends — whatever works best for your schedule.

When you’re involved in an outpatient program, you also are able to begin applying the skills you learn right away. You don’t have to deal with a transition period like you do when you leave an inpatient facility.

Outpatient facilities also often have counseling sessions and other programs designed to help your family members learn how to support you in recovery and understand what you’re experiencing.

Outpatient programs are more affordable than inpatient programs, too. This is especially true if you have health insurance that will help to cover the cost.


Outpatient programs can be risky, though.

When you attend an outpatient program, you will risk being exposed to the same influences and triggers that pushed you toward abusing drugs and alcohol in the first place. You may also still have access to these substances, depending on where you live.

The distractions of daily life can also hinder your recovery and make it hard for you to commit to regular meetings and counseling sessions.

When you participate in outpatient treatment, you also do not have as much access to a community like you do in an inpatient program.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab: Which Should You Choose?

Clearly, there are pros and cons to both inpatient and outpatient rehab. So, which one should you choose? There’s no one correct answer, here; it depends on you and your lifestyle.

The ideal candidate for inpatient treatment is someone who requires a strict structure and constant support.

Individuals who are at high risk of relapse, live in an unstable environment, or require medical treatment ought to consider inpatient treatment.

The ideal candidate for outpatient treatment is someone who has a lower relapse risk and a higher degree of motivation to change their behaviors.

People who have stable home environments and a strong social network are more likely to succeed in an outpatient program.

Get Treatment Today

As you can see, there’s a lot of information to consider when you’re choosing between inpatient vs. outpatient rehab.

There are benefits and drawbacks to each option — you just have to weigh the pros and cons to figure out which one is right for you.

At the end of the day, if you’re having a hard time making a decision between inpatient and outpatient rehab, remember that the most important thing is that you get help. As long as you’re taking steps to overcome your addiction, you’re on the right track.

Do you want to learn more about addiction recovery and treatment? Check out the addiction section of our website today for all kinds of helpful articles.