Outpatient Rehab or Inpatient: Which is Right for You?

Home | Outpatient Rehab or Inpatient: Which is Right for You?

When dealing with addiction, entering an accredited, high-quality treatment program is more effective than trying to go it alone. Treatment programs provide medical and therapeutic professionals to help heal the body, mind, and spirit. Residential (inpatient) treatment typically involves a 30, 60, or 90-day stay at a facility, while outpatient treatment allows the client to live at home and commute to daily treatment sessions.

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment are viable and effective separately and when used in conjunction (outpatient treatment following an inpatient stay). Depending on an individual’s financial situation, home environment, or work situation, they may be drawn more strongly toward one or the other.

Advantages of Residential Treatment

Let’s say an individual did their research and found the best recovery center for their personal needs and situation. A high-quality inpatient program usually offers:

  • Residential addiction treatment, also known as inpatient rehab, offers several advantages for individuals struggling with substance abuse and addiction. These programs provide a structured and supportive environment where individuals can focus on their recovery. Here are some of the advantages of residential addiction treatment:
  • Intensive Treatment: Residential treatment programs provide a highly structured and intensive approach to addiction recovery. Participants have access to 24/7 support and care, allowing them to immerse themselves fully in the recovery process.
  • Supervised Detoxification: Many residential programs offer medical supervision during the detoxification process, ensuring that individuals can safely manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Safety and Stability: The controlled and drug-free environment of a residential facility minimizes exposure to triggers and temptations that may lead to relapse. This promotes a safe and stable environment for recovery.
  • Therapeutic Support: Participants have access to a wide range of therapeutic interventions, including individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and specialized counseling. This comprehensive approach helps individuals address the underlying causes of their addiction.
  • Peer Support: Being in a community of peers who are also in recovery can provide a sense of belonging and support. Sharing experiences and challenges with others in the same situation can be immensely therapeutic.
  • Structure and Routine: Residential programs typically provide a structured daily routine, including therapy sessions, exercise, healthy meals, and recreational activities. This helps individuals develop discipline and build healthy habits.
  • Relapse Prevention: Participants in residential treatment programs receive education on relapse prevention strategies and learn coping skills to manage cravings and triggers.
  • Customized Treatment Plans: Treatment plans in residential programs are often tailored to each individual’s unique needs, addressing their specific challenges and co-occurring disorders.
  • Holistic Approach: Many residential facilities offer a holistic approach to treatment, addressing not only the addiction but also the physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of well-being.
  • Continuous Medical Monitoring: Medical staff is available on-site to monitor the physical and mental health of participants and adjust treatment plans as necessary.
  • Life Skills Training: Many programs provide life skills training to help individuals reintegrate successfully into society. These skills can include budgeting, job search, and communication skills.
  • Privacy and Confidentiality: Residential programs offer a level of privacy and confidentiality that can be important for individuals who are concerned about the stigma associated with addiction.
  • Time Away from Enabling Environments: Being in a residential setting allows individuals to distance themselves from environments or relationships that may have contributed to their addiction.
  • Higher Completion Rates: Research has shown that residential treatment programs often have higher completion rates compared to outpatient programs, which can lead to better long-term outcomes.

Residential treatment is usually recommended for those who have more severe addiction, a difficult home environment, a co-occurring mental health disorder, or any other life circumstance that would make it hard for them to maintain sobriety while living at home.

In the case of opioids and other narcotics, most people require inpatient treatment. The same is true of severe cases of alcohol abuse. A medical detox program can help these individuals get through withdrawal safely and with minimal discomfort.

Outpatient Treatment Helps Secure Sobriety

IOPs, intensive outpatient programs, are an alternative to the 24-hour supervised residential path. It’s for people who don’t need intensive help with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders or those who don’t need to safely withdraw from substances under the care of a healthcare professional. For those who have concerns about finances or childcare or who are unable to leave their career, outpatient treatment can be effective. The scientific and healthcare community recognizes the benefits of outpatient treatment programs, and studies show that their success rate is considerable.

Some of the many benefits of outpatient options include:

  • Flexibility: Outpatient programs typically allow individuals to continue with their daily routines, such as work, school, or family responsibilities. This flexibility can be crucial for those who cannot commit to a residential program.
  • Lower Cost: Outpatient treatment is generally more affordable than residential or inpatient programs, making it a cost-effective option for many people.
  • Access to Support Networks: Individuals in outpatient treatment remain connected to their existing support networks, which can include family, friends, and local recovery groups. These connections can be instrumental in maintaining recovery.
  • Real-World Application: Participants in outpatient programs can immediately apply the skills and coping strategies they learn to their daily lives, which can enhance their ability to manage triggers and cravings.
  • Personalized Treatment Plans: Outpatient programs can be tailored to meet an individual’s specific needs, including the type and frequency of therapy or counseling.
  • Continuity of Care: Outpatient programs can serve as a step-down from more intensive treatment settings, ensuring continuity of care as individuals progress in their recovery.
  • Privacy: Outpatient treatment offers a higher level of privacy for individuals who may be concerned about the stigma of addiction and prefer to maintain their daily routines discreetly.
  • Crisis Intervention: Many outpatient programs offer crisis intervention and support for individuals experiencing immediate difficulties during recovery.
  • Family Involvement: Outpatient treatment often involves family therapy or counseling, allowing families to be directly involved in the recovery process.
  • Integration of Learning: By practicing recovery skills in their daily lives, individuals in outpatient treatment can integrate what they learn in therapy more effectively.
  • Easier Transition to Normal Life: Outpatient programs can help individuals gradually transition back to their regular lives, reducing the risk of feeling overwhelmed and relapsing.
  • Individualized Recovery Support: Outpatient treatment may include access to recovery coaches, case managers, and peer support, providing a network of support beyond the treatment facility.
  • Lower Disruption: For those with significant life responsibilities, outpatient treatment minimizes the disruption caused by being away from home, work, or family.
  • Self-Motivation: Outpatient programs often require individuals to take greater responsibility for their recovery, which can encourage self-motivation and self-reliance.
  • Outpatient treatment is generally more affordable than residential or inpatient programs, making it a cost-effective option for many people.
  • Access to Support Networks: Individuals in outpatient treatment remain connected to their existing support networks, which can include family, friends, and local recovery groups. These connections can be instrumental in maintaining recovery.

It’s important to note that the choice between outpatient and inpatient treatment should be based on an individual’s unique circumstances, the severity of their addiction, and their specific treatment needs. Some people may benefit more from the structure and intensity of inpatient treatment, while others may thrive in an outpatient setting.

The IOP at St. Gregory Recovery Center in Des Moines

Our IOP focuses on the same points that science tells us work for people who want to regain control over their lives and kick bad habits for good:

  • Coping skills for recognizing and avoiding situations and people that trigger relapses
  • Addiction education: how addiction is created and enabled and how it can be overcome
  • Skills for self-expression, healthy communication, and life skills that are useful for personal growth as well as professional advancement
  • Education about the importance of community and sound support systems within families and beyond
  • Weekly meetings to help motivate clients to keep following their recovery plan
  • Judgment-free opportunities to socialize and network

An Integrated Approach and Long-term Strategizing

What we recommend is a two-part strategy that begins with residential treatment and continues with outpatient treatment.

What individuals reveal about themselves, their past, their traumas, and their hopes and goals in residential treatment can later be used to prop them up and increase their chances of success in programs like SMART recovery and other family and outpatient counseling options. If you have questions about which treatment option is right for you or a loved one, contact us today.

Researching Iowa addiction specialists? To learn more about programs offered at St. Gregory Recovery Center, call and speak with someone today, at (888) 778-5833.

Our graduates tell their stories…

When first arriving at St. Gregory I had mixed feelings about the health and wellness workouts. I came in at 136 lbs and didn’t think it was possible to reach...
- Chris
The good life is not merely a life free from addictions, physical and/or psychological—addictions that usually are the outward manifestations of deeper problems—but a life lived in harmonious balance, free...
- Matt
I came to St. Gregory’s at my all-time worst—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Having gone through a bad rehab experience once before, I had been very reluctant in succumbing to that...
- CJ
No matter where I start my thought process when reflecting upon my time before, during and after St. Gregory’s, I always seem to end up in the same place in...
- Kaele


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