Inpatient or outpatient rehab? Your questions answered

Understanding the key differences between inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs can help you make an informed decision tailored to your unique requirements.

What is the difference between outpatient and inpatient drug rehab?

There are three main differences between inpatient and outpatient programs.

Length of the program: Inpatient programs generally range from 28 – 90 days. Outpatient programs tend to be shorter – for example, an 11 session program over 2-4 weeks. Outpatient programs are designed specifically for people suffering from substance use disorder who are unable to take time out from their family or work commitments to seek help.

Location: Inpatient rehab programs operate from a live-in facility where clients (also known as residents) stay onsite for the duration of their treatment. All associated costs including accommodation, food, etc are built into the program fee. On the other hand, outpatient programs operate as what are often called “day programs” where participants return home at the end of each day.

Program Content: Whilst every rehab clinic is different, most inpatient programs are in-depth and immersive, involving a range of psycho-social therapies. Some of these therapies may include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), group therapy, and one on one counselling. Some inpatient programs also include holistic elements such as yoga, art and music therapies and a small number of rehabs also offer 24/7 medical support.

Outpatient programs tend to be group therapy based and focus on education and relapse prevention.

Who is outpatient rehab for?

Outpatient rehab programs are for anyone suffering from drug and alcohol addiction who, for whatever reason, cannot attend or commit the time to an inpatient drug rehab program, and who do not require medical support.

How do I know if an outpatient program is right for me?

This depends on your individual circumstances and needs. If you are unable to take time out from your day to day work and/or caregiving commitments, an outpatient drug rehab program is an addiction treatment option worth considering. It offers minimal disruption to your daily life, fitting in with your work and family commitments. If you’re unsure if outpatient drug rehab is right for you, give us a call and have a chat with one of our friendly team.

What role does family play in inpatient and outpatient treatment?

Both inpatient and outpatient programs recognise the importance of family involvement in the recovery process. Inpatient programs may include family therapy and focus on open communication and support. Outpatient programs often encourage family involvement to help provide a supportive home environment and also include family therapy sessions within a broader treatment plan.

How does the cost differ between inpatient and outpatient rehab programs?

Inpatient treatment involves accommodation, food, and 24/7 care and supervision, which is included in program fees. Outpatient programs are less immersive and so may appear to be more budget-friendly. It’s essential to weigh the financial aspect against the level of care required to best support your treatment and recovery. Private health insurance may be able to assist with covering some of the inpatient treatment costs.

How do I know if my loved one needs inpatient or outpatient treatment?

Inpatient programs are often recommended for those with severe addiction, co-occurring disorders, or a challenging home environment. Outpatient programs may be suitable for individuals with a strong home support system, less severe addiction, and the ability to manage daily responsibilities while attending treatment. If you are unsure about the best treatment program for your loved one, call us to discuss your unique situation.


Are you concerned about yourself or someone you love? Would you like to chat with someone about addiction?

Register for a free 20 minute phone consultation with one of our friendly clinicians.