Inpatient Versus Outpatient Treatment Programs For Addiction Recovery: Major Pros and Cons

Updated on October 25, 2022

If you are considering treatment for addiction recovery, you have two types that exist. They are inpatient and outpatient. What are the differences between the two?

In this guide, we’ll give you a brief synopsis of what each treatment type is so you know what the major difference is. We’ll dive into the major pros and cons of each option so you know exactly what to expect moving forward. For more information on inpatient and outpatient treatments, view Absolute Awakenings website.

Let’s dive right in and discuss more about inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.

Inpatient versus Outpatient Treatment: What’s the difference?

Inpatient treatment is available for those dealing with severe issues with addiction. This place will have intensive care of its patients. Plus, they have a medical staff available around the clock for when they are dealing with severe withdrawal symptoms and other issues.

Outpatient rehab will focus on those dealing with addiction that is lesser in terms of severity. You will be able to stay in your home during the recovery process. Make sure your environment is suitable for this process.

Inpatient treatment: The Pros and Cons


  • Medical staff is always present: If you are dealing with issues such as severe withdrawal symptoms, having the right medical personnel on standby is key. Especially when these symptoms can also be serious to the point where they can be fatal.
  • Very effective: It’s approach is very effective, especially for those with serious addictions. Many of those who sought inpatient treatment found more success in beating their addiction.
  • Medication assistance is available: Medicated assisted recovery will be available for those who may need it. Medical professionals will be able to prescribe you medication that is designed to reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms (including the severe ones). Depending on the medication used, the length of time will vary until the dosage can be changed.
  • You have a solid structure: Before recovery, your schedule lacked structure. For that reason, you’ll learn how to have that during inpatient recovery. You will need to follow a schedule that requires you to attend your appointments and meetings at a specific time. Sure, it may seem forced. But it should help you get into the habit of living a life that provides you with a solid enough structure to handle even the simplest of daily tasks.
  • It’s a much needed environment for many: For those dealing with addiction, they don’t have a stable and suitable environment. Home life might be dysfunctional and you may find yourself in a place where your addiction will be fueled even more. Plus, a stressful environment will do more harm than help when you’re in recovery.


  • Expensive: Needless to say, inpatient treatment will be expensive. That’s because it can be due to the medical intensive approach that comes with it. Just because it’s expensive, doesn’t mean you should write it off completely. It’s worth the cost if you want to get over your most severe addiction. The good news is your insurance can cover a good amount of it. So you won’t have to completely pay for the treatment. 
  • You won’t be able to leave to go home: This is one of the toughest challenges for someone recovering in an inpatient facility. They may be far away from their families, thus not seeing them as often. However, there are visitation days that are allowed by the facility. You won’t be deprived of seeing your family, especially if they are part of your support system.
  • A transition period after the initial treatment: After your initial treatment is completed, you won’t be able to go straight home. You may need to complete this period in a different setting. Sober housing may also be part of the plan. The rules and regulations will be similar compared to being in the facility. You may need a different setting other than the usual home and work setting because the stress associated from both may be dumped on you at the snap of a finger. Thus, it will lead to a potential relapse.

Outpatient treatment: The Pros and Cons


  • Less expensive option: ‘Cheap’ is a word that gets a bad rap. Instead, we will use the term ‘less expensive’. Just because it’s that, doesn’t mean the treatment is poor in quality. Not only that, the price itself will still be in the thousands of dollars. So it’s not ‘cheap’ in terms of the price tag. Again, insurance can also be helpful here along with Medicare or Medicaid (if you meet the specific requirements).
  • You can live at home: One of the best perks of outpatient treatment is that you can live at home during your treatment. As long as your home environment is stable, you’ll be able to get through it without dealing with a lot of stress and instability.
  • One-on-one counseling will be more available: If you are comfortable sharing your struggles in one-on-one settings, outpatient treatment is the best option. You still get this with inpatient care, but it will be less frequent.


  • Not as intensive: Outpatient care is not as intensive. It will have less medical focus compared to its inpatient counterpart.
  • It can get stressful: Even though your home setting is stable, stress can still happen. It can even get to the point where you may relapse. However, it can still be avoidable and you may find ways to cope with the stress. If you need help in this regard, you can speak with your counselor during your next session.

Final Thoughts

If you are considering inpatient versus outpatient options, it will come down to your recovery needs. Whether you know it or not, you need to follow a treatment plan that will have certain requirements. Meaning if outpatient treatment is highly recommended, make sure you take that route.

Likewise, if inpatient treatment is recommended, you’ll want to take the opportunity to follow your treatment plan that requires regular medical treatment for withdrawal symptoms. Despite the advantages and disadvantages each recovery type has, inpatient or outpatient will work in your favor depending on the severity of your addiction and other factors.

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.