What’s the Difference?

Inpatient rehab is where you “check in” to a rehab facility. You essentially stop your life and just do rehab for a certain period of time. Outpatient rehab is where you live your life “outside” of rehab, but spend some amount of time engaged in rehabilitation, including group meetings, individual counseling, etc.

Inpatient Rehab

What it is and how it works

Inpatient treatment refers to the treatment of drug dependence in an overnight setting. The first part of inpatient treatment includes medically supervised detoxification. This could last up to a week and is typically the most difficult part of recovery.


Length of stay will vary for an inpatient drug treatment program. Traditionally, inpatient rehab lasts 28 days. However, the last few years have seen an emergence of many different substance abuse care models, ranging from as few as 3 days and upward to a year.

Types of Inpatient Programs

There are several types of inpatient programs, including:

  • therapy-based programs
  • 12-step programs
  • multimodality programs


According to this research study, substance abuse treatment is more effective when secondary mental health issues, such as anxiety, are addressed as part of therapy. This is why inpatient treatment is effective for people addicted to drugs who also have a mental health illness, such as depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, Cyclothymic disorder, borderline personality disorder, or others.


Drawbacks to inpatient drug treatment include:

  • The controlled environment dictates your schedule- when you get up, when you eat and when you go to bed
  • You are not free to come and go
  • You’ll need to leave your job for the duration of the treatment
  • Depending on the type of insurance you have, inpatient treatment may or may not be covered

Outpatient Rehab

What it is and how it works

With outpatient rehab, you’ll live your life like you normally would, and attend treatment programs during off-hours. Outpatient programs offer patients the greatest amount of flexibility while still providing a high standard of care

Outpatient drug treatment includes a range of protocols, including:

  • Professional psychotherapy
  • Informal peer discussions
  • Counseling services, including individual, group, or family counseling
  • peer group support
  • vocational therapy
  • marital therapy
  • cognitive therapy

Aftercare outpatient services can consist of 12-step meetings, group counseling, individual counseling, vocational counseling, recovery training, and/or relapse prevention strategies.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Cost Comparison

Cost is a major factor when choosing between an inpatient and outpatient treatment program. Inpatient treatment programs cost more than outpatient programs because there is more involved. An inpatient program could cost between $10,000 to $40,000 a month. Luxury treatment programs run even more. Although insurance will likely cover some of these expenses, depending on your situation, if you’re paying out-of-pocket, cost will be something that’s important to you. In that regard, outpatient programs will generally run under $10,000 total, and provide many people with an affordable option for rehab.

Factors That Affect The Cost Of Rehabilitation

  • If detoxification is necessary as this is an added expense.
  • For outpatient rehab treatment, it depends on how many meetings per week you’ll be attending, the level of counseling needed, hours per week that you’ll be visiting the center.
  • For inpatient rehab treatment the length of stay and type of accommodations, as well as amenities, will greatly affect cost.
  • Geographical location plays a role is the cost of treatment.

How Much Does Rehab Cost?

The ranges for how much rehab costs is broken down by inpatient vs. outpatient:

Inpatient Care Options

  • Basic low-cost, 30-day residential rehab – $2,000 – $7,000
  • Standard 30-day residential inpatient treatment- $10,000 – $20,000
  • Premium/luxury 30-day residential inpatient care – $25,000 and up

Types of Outpatient Care

  • Addiction therapy and counseling – Free – $1,000
  • Intensive outpatient care – $3,000 – $10,000
  • Detox treatment costs anywhere from $300-$800 a day

How To Pay For Treatment?

  • Insurance Coverage – Most insurance policies will pay for all or a portion of rehab costs. A deductible likely may need to be paid and thereafter coverage varies.
  • Payment Plans & Financing – Most treatment facilities will offer payment plans to pay your bill monthly or weekly at a slower pace. Interest may or may not be added on.
  • Sliding Scale – It is possible to find a treatment center that will work off of a sliding scale based on monthly income and offer financial aid to lower income levels.
  • Free Of Charge – Local health departments and social services do offer free or subsidized options, but these can be harder to find.

Cost Of Addiction

While the cost of seeking treatment for addiction can appear to be expensive, when you consider the cost associated with staying on a bad path, it’s a small price to pay for your health, freedom and a better quality of life.

Addiction can lead to medical conditions, criminal problems such as arrests and even death. Not to mention the cost of keeping up a habit over time, which can range from anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000/year  can far outweigh the cost of treatment.

Success Rates

Success rates for various programs vary per the individual. This study indicates that 1/3 of patients reported total abstinence from their primary drug and 50-57% decrease in depression across all treatment modalities. However, the average drop out rate for outpatient therapy is higher than inpatient programs, suggesting that the full commitment to an inpatient program helps people to stick with a recovery program.

Although there are also many success factors associated with rehab treatment, it’s important to consider that a person may relapse, moving in and out of treatment over a course of years as part of their recovery process. Relapse should not be considered a failure of treatment, but an indication that treatment should be reinstated or adjusted.

According to a Treatment Protocol Effectiveness Study from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the following are all aspects of treatment that should be present to improve treatment success.

  • Ongoing assessment
  • Comprehensive range of services, including pharmacological treatment, individual and/or group counseling, and educational elements
  • A continuum of treatment interventions
  • Case management and monitoring to engage clients in an appropriate intensity of service
  • Provision and integration of continuing social supports.

Making the Choice

It can be a difficult decision to make when choosing between inpatient or outpatient treatment. While not everyone may necessarily need inpatient care, others may not be qualified for outpatient treatment. Overcoming addiction requires you to be all in, so it’s important to choose based on what’s best for you and your recovery.

Substance abuse treatment is available to everyone and is more attainable and affordable than most understand. If you or someone you love is facing an addiction problem, reach out today to learn more about programs that can turn a life around.