Inpatient Versus Outpatient Rehab Centers And Treatment: 10 Major Differences


If you are considering treatment, it’s important to know the difference between inpatient and outpatient. This guide will go over the ten major differences between them both. If you or someone you know that needs help, Ascendant NY will be able to help.

You can find out more information by visiting their website at Making sure you get the help you need should be a priority. Let’s discuss now the major differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab centers and treatments.


Inpatient rehab and treatment is for serious addictions

If you are struggling with certain addictions like opioids, the withdrawal symptoms can get serious. They may also be fatal if they go untreated. Inpatient treatment will have medical professionals on staff and will be there whenever you need them.

Outpatient treatment will be for less serious addictions. This can be an excellent arrangement if you have a stable environment at home and can make appointments around your daily schedule. You may also experience withdrawal symptoms that are not as serious.

Around the clock care vs particular times of the day

Inpatient rehab will have around the clock care. You will have medical personnel and even therapists that will be available for whenever you need them. Outpatient care will not have this.

While outpatient treatments are appointments scheduled in blocks, you will be checked on regularly while in inpatient rehab. Evening and weekend outpatient appointments are available and the rehab center will accommodate such requests, if needed.

Length of time

The length of treatment will differ whether you’re staying at an inpatient center or visiting outpatient rehab. Don’t forget that inpatient treatment will also be long-term. Meaning you may need to take time off from work since you will be away from the treatment. 

Inpatient treatment can last weeks or even months. At most, you may spend a year there. Outpatient treatment will last anywhere from 3 to 6 months (not to be confused with detox, which can take a week).

Regardless, it’s important to focus on the process rather than worry about how long it can take. Everyone is different when it comes to recovery and their own personal timetable. You can’t rush recovery since it will take time, effort, and support to help get you through it all.


The effectiveness of rehab treatment is usually in question. Of the two, inpatient rehab is the best. As mentioned, you have medical personnel around the clock.

You may also be on medication treatment to reduce the amount of withdrawal symptoms. Outpatient may be effective for lesser addictions, but not on the level compared to inpatient rehab. Those with support systems that are unsatisfactory and deal with mental disorders will benefit more with inpatient care, thus being more effective.

The more serious the addiction, the more effective treatment you need to see. It would be pointless to have a serious addiction and get over it via outpatient care.

Living arrangements

The living arrangements are a huge difference. An inpatient setting will have you living in safe housing. This may be located on the treatment center campus or close by.

This will be an excellent arrangement if your home environment is negative and may trigger potential relapses during the process. You may live in sober housing after treatment in order to continue the recovery.

In an outpatient setting, this will be reserved for those with living arrangements that are positive. You will live at home with your family. They will be close to you and you won’t be away from them for long periods of time.

 Distance from home

Inpatient and outpatient rehab centers may be in your local area. In the event of an inpatient option, you may need to travel far from home. This is due to the fact that it’s the kind of treatment you will need to recover.

This means you may need to be away from your family during the time you’re in inpatient rehab. In outpatient rehab, you won’t be away from family as you will be home every day. Traveling can be a challenge for your family if you are being treated at an inpatient rehab center.


Inpatient rehab will cost more than outpatient. When it comes to payment arrangements, it will depend on what is accepted. Your insurance may cover the treatment.

Medicare and Medicaid may be your other options, if you meet the qualifications. However, you may have to pay any expenses out of pocket. You may have the funds crowdfunded or saved up over the course of time by family or friends.

Consider financial options after your evaluation. The reason for this is that you will know what kind of treatment you will need by the time the evaluation itself is completed.

Likelihood of relapse

If you are experiencing urges and cravings on a regular basis, you may need inpatient treatment. This will put you at a high risk of relapse. Otherwise, you may be better off with outpatient treatment.

The assessment that will be done will determine this. Those dealing with serious addictions will have a higher risk of relapse. Thus, it would not be a good idea to consider outpatient treatment as it could render such a plan ineffective.

Multiple disorder treatment

If you are diagnosed with an addiction along with a mental disorder, inpatient treatment is a must. Outpatient rehab won’t have the resources that will accommodate such treatment. There is no other way to put it.

You’ll have an effective, multi-pronged approach to not only treat your addiction but also your mental disorder as well. This includes medical treatment and regular therapy sessions for addiction and your mental health.


If you are someone that has a hard time making therapy appointments, inpatient treatment may be what you need. Outpatient treatment will be good for those who will show up on time for their treatment and therapy sessions.

The point is that you will need some kind of structure in order to make your treatment plan work.

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