Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment for Substance Abuse

Recovery from drug or alcohol abuse is a whole process. The various support services available can be confusing. Substance abuse treatment programs come in different formats, mainly inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. You may be wondering what the right treatment option for you or a loved one is. Studies show that outpatient recovery services can be equally effective as inpatient treatment for most people. With both inpatient and outpatient options being viable, here is a breakdown of the differences. 

What is inpatient/rehab treatment?

During inpatient rehabilitation, the patient stays in the facility/treatment center for the entire duration of their treatment. There are short- and long-term treatment programs ranging from a few weeks to many months, depending on the individual’s need. 

When living in inpatient rehabilitation, you can focus on your recovery without the distractions and strains of everyday life. Specialist teams may incorporate a detox process at the start of rehabilitation, but then a range of therapies will revolve around developing the skills to stay sober long term. Everyone’s treatment program will differ as it is individually tailored to the requirements of the individual. 

Constant medical care is provided during inpatient treatment, which can help prevent relapse. The temptations and triggers of the outside world are also removed when residing as an inpatient. Inpatient programs often include a step-down approach to help guide people through the transition from inpatient care to outpatient care. 

Pros/cons of inpatient treatment


  • A stable environment with external triggers and temptations removed
  • 24 hour medical and psychiatric support during withdrawal and recovery
  • Substance free environment reduces the chance of relapse
  • Consistent supervision minimizes the chance of relapse
  • Some facilities offer specialist holistic treatment services
  • Longer and more intense treatment enhances the possibility of recovery
  • Highly structures treatment programs addressing all aspect of addiction


  • High cost due to the added factors of accommodation and meals, etc. included in the rehabilitation price
  • Must fully commit to treatment as an inpatient. Unable to attend work, school, or household duties. 
  • Limited access to family, friends, or loved ones
  • Highly structured, which can be challenging and emotional 

Inpatient treatment resources

If you’re not sure where to find inpatient treatment near you or want to know more, here are a few resources to get you started:

What is outpatient/medication-assisted treatment?

The main difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment is that you can still live at home and engage in your everyday routine when undergoing outpatient treatment. You can attend work, school, and see your family and loved ones. 

Outpatient rehabilitation costs less than an inpatient facility as room and board do not need to be covered. However, it does mean that you are not removed from the triggers and stressors around you. The level of support is less intensive, as you are not being monitored all day, every day. Despite a less intensive approach, outpatient rehabilitation can be equally effective as inpatient treatment. 

Outpatient recovery programs still require commitment from the individual and include a range of services such as; medication-assisted treatment, drug abuse education, individual/group/family counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, or psychiatry. The treatment provided by an outpatient facility is very similar to inpatient treatment but less intensive. Outpatient detox is also safe and effective, and you have the added support of seeing family and friends. 

Pros/cons of outpatient/medically assisted treatment?


  • Less expensive
  • Not residential therefore able to attend work, school, or look after your family
  • Surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones for support
  • Relapse prevention techniques practiced and mastered in a real-world setting
  • You can engage in care at a level of intensity that is suited to you
  • You can tailor your appointments around your life


  • More urges to use and relapse as triggers and stressors still surround you
  • Self-motivation needed to show up and commit to appointments 
  • Easier access to alcohol or substances
  • You are fully accountable for yourself and will not be monitored 24 hours a day

Outpatient Services at Achieve Whole Recovery

Achieve Whole Recovery is an outpatient Medication-Assisted Treatment Center in Colorado Springs. We offer intensive alcohol and opioid disorder and mental health treatment for those suffering from addiction. We can also help you to manage co-occurring mental health and substance use conditions. Our services include:

  • Mental Health Therapy – our qualified mental health professionals can provide therapeutic support to deal with problems such as; anger, anxiety, depression, mania, obsessions/compulsions, panic, personality disorder, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, or other issues.
  • Psychiatry Services – a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral health services. Our team of psychiatrists can provide medical treatments for issues such as alcohol and opioid addiction.

At Achieve Whole Recovery, we accept both Medicaid and Medicare. With a range of medication-assisted treatments and therapeutic interventions, we can tailor an outpatient recovery program to fit your individual needs.