Outpatient vs. Residential Treatment Centers

Once you’ve decided to enter a drug or alcohol addiction program, you must determine which type of facility is right for you. Simplified, your available options come down to outpatient vs. residential treatment centers. Do you feel it necessary to reside at your chosen facility in order to achieve a successful outcome? Would a short-term treatment plan suffice in providing you with the results you’re after? These are questions that must be answered to ensure the best possible outcome. If you’re having difficulty deciding which option best suits your needs, the following entry will serve in outlining the differences between the two.


Studies show residential/inpatient rehab facilities to be the most effective means in addressing addiction. The first stage, alcohol drug detox, is extremely difficult to complete on an outpatient basis, with the vast majority of specialists recommending a medically monitored withdrawal. Those who are physically dependent to a substance will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms once intake is hindered. To alleviate and minimize these symptoms, patients can opt to enter a medically supervised detox program at an inpatient rehab center.

The second phase of treatment deals primarily with the psychological aspects of the addiction… a stage that is integrated seamlessly into the treatment plan at a residential facility. Patients are provided with 24/7 psychological, medical and peer support, thus increasing the chances of a successful recovery exponentially. In most cases, the longer an addict chooses to remain in rehab, the longer they will remain sober following the program’s completion.


Most outpatient programs will hold patients to a commitment minimum in regard to the amount of time each they must attend on a weekly basis. Typically short-term in nature, this recovery option incorporates treatment education classes, support groups and 12-step meetings into their recovery platform. Some facilities will require weekly therapy sessions as well. Patients are afforded the ability to return home in the evenings. Many people find these types of programs beneficial due to the freedom and scheduling aspects. With this option, patients can continue working and caring for loved ones at a cost far less than what they might pay at a residential/inpatient facility. However, studies find very few patients able to maintain sobriety, as the afforded freedom ultimately allows for easier access to the problem substances.

Which One Is For You?

While both options can prove effective long-term, the real variant is the patient themselves. Aspects including personal circumstance, abuse history and other exterior factors can all play a part in determining exactly how a patient will respond to treatment.

Those who have only been using heavily for a year or so, are actively participating in a career, still have their family and do not experience withdrawal symptoms when use is hindered may benefit greatly from an outpatient program. However, if you find yourself experiencing withdrawal symptoms, losing friends and family members and are having difficulty holding a job, an inpatient facility may very well be the best option for you.

When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to seek the advice of an addiction specialist with the knowledge and experience necessary to properly assess your condition. Call up a local treatment facility and schedule an appointment to speak with someone regarding your potential recovery options to best determine which course of action is right for you!

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