Types of Alcohol Treatment Centers: Inpatient vs Outpatient

What Is an Inpatient Treatment Center and an Outpatient Treatment Center?

When seeking addiction treatment, you’ll be given the option of various levels of care.

You can choose between an inpatient rehab program or an outpatient rehab program.

But, what’s the difference between the two?

How does one measure against the other?

What’s the purpose of having rehab centers that offer different levels of care?

The answer to these questions is vital in choosing and finding the right alcohol treatment program.

Here’s all that you need to know about these different treatment programs.


A Look at Inpatient Alcohol Treatment Centers

With an inpatient treatment program, patients will actually move to the alcohol rehab center for substance abuse treatment.

They will do everything at the treatment facility, from eating to sleeping to going through therapy. The treatment center provides a safe and calm environment that’s free of stresses and triggers.

Most inpatient rehab programs are at least 28 days long. This is the length of time that it takes for the brain to reset. It takes some time for brain chemistry levels to return to normal.

Some residential rehab programs go over 90 days. The longer the treatment, the easier it is for patients to stay sober.

There are many different types inpatient facilities. Luxury alcohol treatment facilities offer more amenities and services than standard facilities.

Each inpatient facility will also have its own specialization. Some inpatient facilities offer faith-based programs. Others take a holistic approach to treatment, and others offer different types of medications for alcohol detox.

Compared to other treatment options, inpatient treatment offers the highest level of care possible. As a result, it’s also one of the most expensive alcohol addiction treatment options out there.

To choose the right rehab, look at the specifics that concern each one. Talk to the admissions team to learn more about each treatment facility before making a decision.


Benefits of Inpatient Programs

There are many reasons why a patient may choose an inpatient alcohol rehab.

For one, this type of recovery center offers the highest level of care.

Withdrawal symptoms for some drugs or alcohol can be life-threatening. Residential treatment takes the danger out of getting sober.

These rehab programs can also offer treatment for polydrug abuse and co-occurring disorders. When addicts use more than one drug at a time or have a mental health disorder, they’re recovery will be more erratic.

Other drugs that recovering addicts use in conjunction with alcohol include prescription drugs and illicit drugs.

No one really knows how the patient will respond to different drugs or treatment.

This is where a residential rehab reigns supreme. Since patients are under constant supervision by medical professionals, their treatment can be tailored at any time to better suit their needs.

An inpatient alcohol facility will also offer the following benefits:


  • No access to alcohol and drugs
  • A strict environment to teach discipline
  • An environment that’s free of stimuli and triggers
  • A place to connect with others in similar situation
  • Balanced, nutritional diets


Patients don’t have to worry about a thing when receiving this type of alcohol or drug addiction treatment. The professionals at the treatment facility will take care of everything.

This allows recovering addicts to focus their attention solely on their recovery.


A Look at Outpatient Alcohol Treatment Centers

An outpatient rehab facility is quite different from an inpatient alcohol rehab facility.

With an outpatient facility, patients will travel to the rehab facility whenever they need treatment. They can leave the facility when they’re done.

With outpatient programs, patients can schedule their counseling sessions or therapy for whenever they’re free. For example, patients who have work may schedule treatment for the weekends only.

There’s no quota that needs to be reached with standard outpatient programs.

A step above standard outpatient programs is intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). These alcohol rehab programs are a bit different in the sense that they require a minimum commitment of 9 hours each week.

With this type of alcoholism treatment, patients will still get to enjoy the following:


  • Psychoeducational groups that teach recovering addicts about substance abuse
  • Skills-development groups that teach recovering addicts how to re-integrate back into society
  • Drug or alcohol refusal training to prevent relapses
  • Relapse prevention techniques, like avoiding high-risk situations
  • Stress management classes to help manage one’s mental health condition
  • Peer-oriented support groups at the rehab centers for emotional and social support


These alcohol treatment centers offer a wide range of behavioral therapies. Common options include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT).

Patients can also treat co-occurring disorders at an outpatient treatment facility. They will receive individual counseling to learn how to deal with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and more.


Benefits of Outpatient Treatment Programs

In terms of level of care, outpatient alcohol treatment centers offer the least amount of care possible.

With that said, they’re still very popular among some patients. Some patients appreciate the benefits of outpatient programs.

Outpatient rehab programs are ideal for patients who only have a mild addiction. They’re also great for patients that have already undergone an inpatient treatment program.

Some patients may also choose an outpatient program because it’s less expensive than an inpatient treatment program. Or, they may simply have other work or familial responsibilities to attend to.

With an inpatient treatment program, patients have to move to the treatment facility. They can’t leave.

With an outpatient treatment program, patients can continue to go to school, go to work or take care of their children. The addiction treatment won’t interfere with their lives.


A Balance Between the Two: Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

Patients who aren’t sure which program to choose may benefit from a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). This is like a compromise between an inpatient program and an outpatient program.

With a PHP, patients receive anywhere from 4 to 8 hours of therapy each day. It’s like having a full-time or part-time job.

The only difference is that patients are not required to stay at the rehab facility at all. They can leave and go home whenever they’re done with their treatment.

PHPs are only ideal if patients have a safe home environment to go back to. Their loved ones should be aware of the addiction and be able to offer mental and emotional support whenever necessary.

Some patients will move into a PHP after they’ve successfully completed an inpatient treatment program. They may also move back into a PHP if they have relapsed while undergoing outpatient treatment.


Choose a Level of Care Appropriate for Where You Are in Recovery

If you’re having difficulties choosing between an inpatient or outpatient program, contact one of our addiction specialists.

We can assess your situation and help you determine which option may be most beneficial for your case.

We’ll walk you through the specifics of an inpatient vs outpatient program.

We can also help you determine what type of treatment you need for alcohol abuse.

Let us help you find a treatment program that will work best for you.