5 Pros & Cons of Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab Centers

The first step on the road to recovery is knowing you need help to beat your addiction. Another big step is choosing between an outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation center. Each type of treatment setting has advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient, or residential treatment, requires a 28 day stay. The actual length of a typical stay depends on your diagnosis, needs, situation and insurance coverage.


  • You receive 24-hour supervision by trained staff and therapists; you are never alone while battling your addiction.
  • You are part of a community – other residents in the facility are also overcoming their addictions.
  • You are in a program that provides an intense level of care – individuals who have tried to battle addiction previously may a more intense setting.
  • Being in a residential setting, more time each day is focused on recovery, through group and individual counseling settings, as well as other treatment exercises.
  • You do not have the distractions of daily life activities/worries while in treatment.


  • You are not free to come and go and you please
  • You are in a structured environment that dictates when you get up in the morning, when you eat, when you have counseling sessions and when you have free-time. For many, though this seems like a “con” it is actually one of the best components of residential/inpatient treatment.
  • Arrangements for child care will need to be made while you are in treatment.
  • Often, you will need to take a leave from your job to participate in residential treatment.
  • Many insurers will only cover outpatient treatment.

Outpatient Rehabilitation Centers

As the name implies, you receive treatment as you come and go. You typically participate in counseling sessions for a specific timeframe before you complete the program.


  • Outpatient treatment is structured so you can continue many of your daily activities such as work, caring for children etc.
  • Counseling sessions are often offered in the evenings and sometimes even on weekends.
  • You can apply what you learn in treatment to your real life setting and start making changes immediately.
  • Many outpatient program include family sessions, to help your support network better understand the challenges you face.
  • Outpatient is considered a more affordable treatment option and is generally covered by insurance.


  • You risk being exposed to the same influences, risks and triggers in your life that pushed you towards drug or alcohol.
  • You may still have access to drugs/alcohol.
  • Daily life distractions could keep you from focusing on recovery.
  • Access to your counselor is more limited than in a residential/inpatient facility.
  • Many residential clients develop bonds with other people in treatment that later become part of their sober support network. In outpatient, you do not spend as much time with others in treatment, which makes building the foundation of this support network more challenging.

There are many pros and cons to rehabilitation facilities. The right facility for you depends on many factors. To learn more about Pathways’ 28-day residential program, please contact us for more information.

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