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Outpatient or Inpatient Drug Rehab: Which Is Better?

A woman pausing to decide which way to go.Drug addiction is a life-or-death matter. It’s great that you are considering treatment options, because the first step to sobriety is getting serious about treating your addiction. However, there is more than one option for addiction treatment, so a little research is required before you enter a drug rehab program. In this post, we’ll go over the important things you need to know when deciding between inpatient and outpatient rehab.

The Differences Between Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab

The main difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment for drug or alcohol addiction is that with inpatient treatment, you live in the same place where you are receiving treatment, for a set amount of time — for example, for 30 days or even 180 days. The main “treatment” in the case of drug addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy (aka “talk therapy”), which you will receive in both inpatient and outpatient scenarios.

In addition to living at the treatment center where you get therapy to treat your addiction, inpatient rehab may also provide some additional treatment features, including medical detox, nutrition and exercise programs, art therapy, spiritual activities, and more.

Benefits of Outpatient Drug Rehab

There are two main benefits of outpatient rehab that people typically find attractive:

  • You have more freedom than you do with inpatient therapy — Don’t have to follow any rules, can come and go as you please, can continue to go to work or school, care for your children, etc.
  • Typically less expensive than inpatient therapy — Insurance usually covers outpatient therapy and does not always cover all (or any) of your inpatient stay

Individuals with important obligations — such as a job that means a lot to them, or young children at home with no other caregiver — may prefer outpatient vs. inpatient drug treatment. People who have a problem with following the sometimes strict living rules that come with inpatient therapy may also prefer outpatient therapy.

Benefits of Inpatient Drug Rehab

Inpatient treatment provides the following important benefits:

  • Medically supervised detox from drugs
  • Controlled setting where drugs are not available
  • Regular meals and safe living accommodations
  • Community environment provides built-in social support
  • No outside distractions to derail your recovery
  • More hours of the day spent focusing on your recovery
  • Inpatients are 4 times more likely to complete addiction treatment compared to outpatients
  • Research shows those who complete over 30-days at an inpatient programs have nearly double the success rate for long-term sobriety

So, Which Is Better?

Outpatient drug treatment is better than no treatment at all, but because inpatient drug rehab is more effective at treating addiction, it is definitively better than outpatient treatment.

While you might feel like you can’t go to inpatient rehab because of your job, your kids, money issues, or a dislike of rules, it’s important to consider that unless you get serious about treating your addiction, you could lose your family and your job anyway. Additionally, you might end up somewhere where you have no freedom at all — jail.

Choosing an Inpatient Rehab Program

While not everyone will choose inpatient drug rehab, you should strongly consider this treatment option, especially if you have underlying psychological issues, no stable living environment, or have tried and failed to quit drugs in the past. The more severe your addiction is, the more inpatient care becomes a necessity.

If cost is an issue, you might want to look into getting financial assistance for inpatient addiction treatment.