Inpatient vs Outpatient Treatment Which One is Right for Me

Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that can negatively impact every area of your life. Without treatment, substance use disorders can lead to physical and mental health conditions, strained relationships, legal troubles, and financial problems. If you or someone you love are struggling, receiving professional help is key to regaining control over your life.

Unfortunately, many people avoid seeking the help they need. Despite 10% of the population struggling with addiction, 75% of them never attend treatment.[1] This is usually because people are afraid of the unknown.

Knowing what to expect from a treatment center can make it easier to commit to your recovery. When choosing a treatment program, you have two main options: inpatient facilities and outpatient care. Each type of care offers different benefits, making it vital that you understand which one is right for you.

Inpatient treatment is ideal for someone with moderate to severe addiction issues, co-occurring mental illnesses, or simply needs 24-hour support. On the other hand, outpatient services are great for individuals who have a safe space to live in during treatment and need time to care for other responsibilities like school or work.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What inpatient rehab entails
  • What to expect during outpatient treatment
  • Who should attend an inpatient treatment program
  • Who should choose an outpatient treatment program

What is Inpatient Rehab?

Inpatient care requires you to live at the facility full-time. Since you spend the entirety of the program at the facility, whether it is 30, 60, or 90 days long, inpatient rehab is considered the most intensive form of addiction treatment.

At an inpatient treatment facility, you have around-the-clock access to medical care, detox services, various therapies, dual diagnosis treatment, and more. You’ll spend several hours each day in group and individual therapy sessions, gaining a deep understanding of your substance abuse and developing healthy coping skills that support long-term recovery.

Some people choose to attend inpatient before transitioning into an outpatient program. Doing so reduces the shock from facility living to independence. However, the structure provided by inpatient rehab is effective in laying the foundation for positive habits and lifestyle changes that can reduce the potential for relapse.[2]

What is Outpatient Treatment?

Outpatient treatment allows you to live in the comfort of your own home while you commute to treatment sessions during the day. There are several types of outpatient rehab programs, each one offering a different level of care.

Outpatient encompasses the following types of treatment programs:

  • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) – PHP programs are the most intensive level of outpatient care. Typically, you attend treatment sessions 3 to 5 days per week for several hours each day. You receive many of the same services that inpatient rehab offers.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) – IOPs are considered a step down from partial hospitalization programs. Depending on your needs, you will attend treatment 3 to 5 days per week for a couple of hours each day.
  • Outpatient programs (OPs) – Outpatient programs are the most relaxed form of addiction treatment. Usually, you only attend treatment sessions three days per week and focus mainly on relapse prevention to ensure that you do not return to substance abuse.

If you require a hospital stay or long-term medical treatment, inpatient rehabs are better suited for your needs. Outpatient treatment is designed to provide you with the therapy, counseling, and coping mechanisms you need to take control of your own recovery.

Deciding Between Inpatient or Outpatient Rehab

In open studies, inpatient and outpatient rehab programs have similar success rates. However, one key factor that contributes to positive treatment outcomes is program length. Generally, the longer individuals stayed in treatment, the longer they provided negative urine screenings. With that said, those with severe drug and alcohol use disorders were more likely to complete treatment and more successful after treatment if they completed a residential program.[3,4]

Deciding to enter addiction treatment is one of the most important choices you can make. Once you have decided you need help, it’s time to start considering what type of program is right for you. This process can be confusing for someone who has never been to drug and alcohol rehab before.

Who Should Attend Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient rehab could benefit anyone struggling with addiction. However, some people require this level of care more than others.[5] For example, if you need 24/7 monitoring to avoid using drugs and alcohol, you should opt for an inpatient program.

Other signs that you need inpatient treatment include:

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms and requiring detox services
  • Not having a safe and supportive home to reside in during treatment
  • Having co-occurring mental health conditions that require support
  • Having a history of relapses in the past
  • Dealing with a moderate to severe substance use disorder that needs extensive treatment

Who Is Outpatient Rehab Intended For?

Outpatient rehab is often used after someone completes inpatient treatment. However, some individuals might benefit from outpatient treatment as a standalone care option. For example, if you cannot take time off of work to attend treatment, outpatient is the best option for you.

Signs that outpatient rehab is right for you include:

  • Requiring a flexible treatment schedule that allows you to care for outside obligations
  • Having a safe and supportive home to live in during treatment
  • Knowing that you will benefit from having unregulated access to family support
  • Not being able to afford an inpatient rehab stay
  • Suffering from a more mild substance use disorder and not being at a high risk of relapsing. [6]

Start Your Recovery With an Assessment

If you or a loved one requires addiction treatment but you are unsure whether you should choose inpatient or outpatient care, you’ve come to the right place. At Invigorate Behavioral Health, we offer a continuum of care that offers both levels of treatment. Additionally, our addiction counselors can help you decide whether inpatient, outpatient, or a combination of both programs is right for you.

Contact us today to learn more about our inpatient and outpatient treatment programs in Los Angeles or to get started with a confidential, risk-free assessment.


  1. The National Institutes of Health (NIH): 10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives
  2. Science Direct: The effectiveness of residential treatment services for individuals with substance use disorders: A systematic review
  3. National Library of Medicine: Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence
  4. National Institute of Health: The effectiveness of inpatient and outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse: the need to focus on mediators and moderators of setting effects
  5. Psychiatry Online: Residential Treatment for Individuals With Substance Use Disorders: Assessing the Evidence
  6. Research Gate: Determinants of outpatient substance use disorder treatment length-of-stay and completion: the case of a treatment program in the southeast U.S

Our Admissions Coordinators are Available 24/7

Start your journey toward healing today by speaking with one of our dedicated admissions coordinators. We’re eager to help you begin your recovery.

Call (323) 900-5041

Leave Your Details

Let us know how to get back to you.

    Get confidential help 24/7.

    Call us today to discuss your treatment options. All calls are risk-free and 100% confidential.

    Call (323) 900-5041