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Opening April 2019

FAQ: What’s the Difference Between Inpatient and Outpatient Addiction Treatment?

Finding the best support for dealing with addiction can seem overwhelming. Here we have insight into inpatient addiction treatments and intensive outpatient programs to help make the decision easier.

Both inpatient addiction treatments and intensive outpatient programs are designed to help someone:

  • Stop using drugs
  • Stay drug-free
  • Become a productive and healthy member of a family, work, and society.

With those goals in mind, we can cover the major differences between residential treatment and an Intensive Outpatient Program (or IOP).

Learn the pros and cons of both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment so that you can make the best choice.

What is an Inpatient Addiction Treatment (Residential Treatment)?

An inpatient addiction treatment program takes you out of any hectic situations that can deter the healing process.

Inpatient addiction treatment allows you to go through detox, therapy, and diagnosis in a safe facility. Inpatient rehab facilities house you with 24 hour medical care for weeks or months. The length of the stay depends on your needs, but most residential rehab programs last at least a few months.

With both IOP and residential treatment, you will have an individualized plan for a treatment specifically for you.

Individual and group therapy sessions are provided in both IOP and inpatient rehab. Life at a residential facility should have a strong community and encourage you during your treatment.

The best addiction treatment programs (whether residential rehab or an Intensive Outpatient Program) includes classes that will help you live out a fully-rounded, drug-free healthy lifestyle.

Your overall health will help you during your addiction program. We are here to provide a place to live healthfully and not just go through detox and therapy.

There are a few reasons inpatient addiction treatment could be a better choice than intensive outpatient program for certain individuals.

Inpatient rehab is preferred for someone who also struggles with a mental illness along with addiction. If you are in an environment that could push you to use while still in recovery you could also benefit from residential treatment.

If you have easy access to drugs in your community, inpatient rehab would help you recover away from that temptation. Residential care is a way to create a space to go through treatment without the usual stresses of your life. If you have a stressful life or have lost family or jobs due to your addiction, residential care may be the option for you.

  • Takes you out of any high-stress situations while recovering in Inpatient Rehab.
  • Provides you with more support if you require 24-hour care.
  • Lets you experience a healthy lifestyle in a completely safe environment.
  • High cost depending on your insurance coverage. Please check with your insurance provider before making a decision.
  • Unnecessarily takes you out of your life if you have a less severe addiction

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

IOP – or an outpatient addiction treatment program - allows you to recover while keeping up with your responsibilities at home and at work.

As the name implies, an IOP is an addiction treatment program that does not require residential treatment. In other words, inpatient addiction treatment lets you go through rehab while living at home.

There are a variety of intensive outpatient programs that have therapy sessions on a regular schedule. During these meetings, behavioral therapy is provided. In these outpatient addiction treatment programs, you can have group therapy or individual therapy sessions.

With an IOP, meetings are frequent at first. You can have multiple scheduled sessions a week. After you complete the more intensive part of treatment, you will lessen your hours per week for meetings. The therapy received will help you identify and cope with addiction triggers in your life. Meetings will also help you create healthy life habits throughout the course of the Intensive Outpatient Program.

Family and couple therapy can also be provided if needed to help the people in your life know how to be supportive as you start a drug-free life. Positive reinforcement is used constantly in these meetings to ensure a safe environment for growth through an IOP.

Long-term counseling is available and encouraged to prevent any relapse. No one wants you to experience relapse, and treatment facilities are here for your long-term success. We can work with you to create stable practices that will be maintained your whole life, even after the Intensive Outpatient Program is concluded.

You would also experience these therapy practices in residential treatment if you choose inpatient addiction treatment instead of an IOP.

Would I Benefit From Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

Intensive outpatient programs are ideal if you are entering addiction treatment for the first time. If you still have a job, family, and friends, an outpatient program may give you the help you need without taking you away from situations where you are needed or are comfortable.

If you are in a high-stress environment, residential care may be a better fit for you. If your family and/or friends use drugs, being away from them during treatment will help your own healing.

If you are not struggling with a severe mental illness and have a safe home environment an outpatient program is probably a better fit. Outpatient addiction treatment provides nearly all of the same services as inpatient rehab.

  • More affordable than inpatient rehab. Again, please check your insurance coverage.
  • Allows you to continue working and/or continuing your daily family life activities while seeking treatment.
  • Ideal for less severe cases of drug addiction.
  • May not provide the 24-hour care you need, depending on your addiction and mental health.
  • Will not take you out of situations that trigger your addiction.
  • You may not feel encouraged during treatment in your home environment without constant care.

Partial Hospitalization as an Option in Inpatient Addiction Treatment

Partial hospitalization is a good option if you’ll need more care than the standard outpatient program.

Partial hospitalization will allow you to attend treatment around 6 hours a day. You can continue to live at home while you attend treatment at least 5 days a week.

What Do Days in Partial Hospitalization Look Like?

After treatment you can spend time in your home and sleep there. You will still spend a significant amount of time at home and with your family and friends.

Partial hospitalization is a good way to receive more intensive treatment without being completely taken out of situations you are used to.

The drawbacks of this program are similar to the drawbacks of IOP. It may be necessary to take you out of your situation completely.

If you are struggling with your mental health, residential care may be a better fit for you. Staying in your home could be harmful to your healing if you have friends or family members that use drugs and would not encourage you in your treatment.

If you are in an environment that is encouraging, partial hospitalization could be a good option for you.

What Are the Success Rates of Intensive Outpatient Treatment and Inpatient Addiction Treatment?

Recovery is possible for anyone struggling with any addiction. Therapy needs to be continued after any program’s completion to prevent relapse, even in outpatient addiction treatment.

Either program will give you the tools you need to build a drug-free life. Depending on your specific situation and addiction, you may need a more intensive program that separates you from any chaotic situations while you are in residential care.

You may need partial hospitalization where you can go more frequently during the day but sleep in your own bed at night. You may need an intensive outpatient program if you want to end your addiction, but you don’t need to be separated from your home to recover.

The Takeaway: All programs listed can help you rehabilitate, but no one person is the same and requires a different approach to treatment.

What to Expect from All Treatments – IOP to Residential Treatment

Regardless of which program you are looking at, you need to make sure whichever facility you choose has the care you need.

All treatments (IOP, residential rehab, and even partial hospitalization) should have:

  • Detox assistance
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Medication if needed during detoxing or to prevent relapse (only in extreme cases)
  • Treatment for co-occurring mental health issues
  • 12-step recovery program
  • Long-term counseling to prevent relapse

The Affordable Care Act could cover your inpatient addiction treatment or intensive outpatient program.

Check with your insurance provider to see if your outpatient addiction treatment is covered. If your insurance does not cover all of the expenses, don’t lose hope. You could still only need to pay a smaller copayment for either an Intensive Outpatient Program or Inpatient Rehab.

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment for All Addictions and Other Health Concerns

Residential treatment and IOP are used to treat all forms of substance abuse. They can be used whether you are addicted to alcohol, opioids, depressants, prescription medications, stimulants, inhalants, hallucinogenic drugs, cannabinoids, or anabolic steroids.

Inpatient and outpatient programs are not concepts only used for addiction treatment. You may have also heard the terms used for physical therapy and mental health services.

If you need mental health services, you can find outpatient and inpatient services available for co-occurring disorders. If you are also struggling with addiction, you can find this help along with an addiction treatment program. Co-occurring outpatient addiction treatment offers the opportunity for long-term help.

Residential care for mental health provides 24-hour medical care and therapy. You can receive residential care for however long you need. With outpatient services you would be able to stay at your home and attend meetings at a facility where you will receive therapy and diagnosis.

Here is a list of mental health services and how to find them in your area. Each category allows for you to find a service that will work with your preferred payment plan and insurance.

The First Step to Any Addiction Treatment Program: Detox

When you are first starting your treatment, you will need to detox from your drug of choice.

Detox is when your body gets rid of a drug in your system. During detox your body will also experience withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms are drug cravings, vomiting, cold chills, and muscle and bone pain.

Medication can be used to help lessen with withdrawal symptoms.


80% of cases within facilities use medication during withdrawal.

Detox is necessary in both inpatient addiction treatment and outpatient addiction treatment. The only major difference is where you will be located during the detox process.

Therapy Methods Used for Inpatient and Outpatient Treatments

When you are in an outpatient or an inpatient addiction program, you will receive therapy for your drug addiction.

These methods will encourage you as you figure out the addiction triggers in your life and how to best deal with them. The main therapy methods that you will find are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This method helps you to understand your addiction triggers. You will find out how to avoid them, or how to cope healthfully with them.
  • Multidimensional-Family Therapy: This is used more for adolescents with drug addictions. This will guide the family to understand these drug using patterns and how to move forward drug-free.
  • Motivational Interviews: This helps individuals change behavior and enter treatment with a ready mind.
  • Motivational Incentives, which encourages you with positive reinforcement to help you abstain from drugs.

The Bottom Line: Your Personal Recovery is What Matters

Recovery should be focused around you and your individualistic needs. Success means knowing yourself and your own addiction. One treatment program should never be seen as the one solution that fits everyone. IOP works for many people struggling with addiction, but sometimes residential treatment is needed.

We are here if you have any questions about the outpatient addiction treatment process. If you’d like to know how we can help you get on the road to recovery, do not hesitate to contact us.

Northpoint Washington: Opening April 2019

Our facilities currently open for services:

Ashwood Recovery at Northpoint

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Boise, Idaho.

Northpoint Recovery

Our National Medical Detox and Inpatient Addiction Facility.

The Evergreen at Northpoint

Outpatient drug and alcohol rehab and addiction counseling located in Washington State.