Alcohol addiction is on the rise in the US. Studies have revealed that nearly 14 million adult Americans, or one in 13 adults, are either abusing or addicted to alcohol. Alcohol addiction is a very serious case in the US, but it is also treatable. When it comes to recovery from alcohol addiction, alcoholics can either recover through inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab. In this article, we will compare and contrast inpatient and outpatient rehab.  Though the length and intensity of each rehab program can vary depending on each person’s severity of the addiction, one of the rehab programs is more flexible and promotes independence as well as long-term sobriety. So, if you’re committed to alcohol addiction recovery but don’t require around-the-clock crisis stabilization or medical care (usually reserved for detoxification and residential treatment), outpatient rehab may be the better option for you. Outpatient rehab is recommended if you want unmatched care, support, and education for alcohol-related addictions while offering you more flexibility. Continue reading for more information on outpatient rehab, and to compare the differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab.


What Is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab is a type of alcohol addiction recovery program where concerned individuals receive help for their alcohol addiction recovery without minimal interference to their daily tasks and responsibilities, such as family obligations, work, school, etc. Outpatient rehab provides the flexibility of staying in the comfort of your home and getting clinical attention, unlike inpatient rehab that requires a person to stay in a 24/7 treatment facility until they’re ready to go home.

With outpatient alcohol rehab, individuals live at home but spend a certain amount of time daily at the outpatient rehab center, where they’ll receive a combination of a comprehensive therapy and educational activities to overcome potential triggers and achieve long-term sobriety. You will have services available to you like drug and alcohol counseling sessions, support groups, as well as comprehensive therapies. What makes outpatient rehab outstanding is that it focuses on treating the whole person, rather than just the disease by helping the person learn how to recognize and prevent triggers whilst participating in their daily lives. Generally, the early stage of outpatient rehab involves meeting daily for the first several weeks or months after which the number of meetings may begin to lessen depending on how much the individual has recovered.


Differences Between Outpatient and Inpatient Rehab

During the inpatient rehab program, the involved individuals live at the rehab center, where they are provided with the greatest form of subjection and treatment as well as access to the resources they need until their treatment is completed. Inpatient rehab is especially important for patients who may cause harm to themselves or others as well as individuals who are in need of detoxification programs.  Essentially, if someone has been battling with a long-term drinking habit, they may have to rethink their treatment options and consider an inpatient rehab method as there are several dangers to withdrawing from alcohol without proper medical attention. Outpatient rehab, on the other hand, is usually not as intensive as inpatient rehab and gives patients the freedom to continue with their jobs, work, schooling, etc. while undergoing the treatment. 

Outpatient rehab is a great option for patients who do not have a serious drinking problem, have initially undergone intensive inpatient treatment programs or residential treatment programs, or have a stable home environment. The major difference between outpatient rehab and inpatient rehab for alcohol addiction recovery is that outpatient rehab requires the patients to attend recovery programs only during treatment sessions. Once a treatment session is completed, the patients return home and continue with their normal activities. 

Therefore, outpatient rehab allows patients to live at home, go to work, engage in other activities, and come for alcohol addiction recovery treatment only during treatment sessions. Whereas, inpatient rehab provides living facilities, meals, strict around-the-clock supervision, and recreational activities for the patients during alcohol addiction recovery treatment. While inpatient rehab is mostly designed to deliver an intense and specialized recovery treatment to addicts for a limited time, outpatient rehab is designed to continue the delivery of the treatment while the patients continue with their daily activities. That is why every individual who seeks alcohol addiction recovery treatment will receive some form of outpatient rehab program at some later point.  Even patients who initially enrolled in the inpatient rehab program will eventually transition to the outpatient rehab program before completing their program. This makes alcohol addiction recovery through outpatient rehab the best and lasting solution. 




Types of Outpatient Rehab Programs

Though there are several types of outpatient rehab programs available for alcohol addiction recovery, these are three types of outpatient rehab programs that are most common. These include:

  • Day treatment.
  • Intensive outpatient.
  • Continuing care groups. 

Your treatment specialist may recommend any of these types based on your specific needs. You may also have to move from one type of outpatient rehab program to another during your alcohol addiction recovery journey. Let’s take a look at each of the programs:

1). Day Treatment

This program offers intensive outpatient treatment. Under this program, patients are required to meet for either full or half-day programs for five to seven days each week. Day treatment is a well-defined and structured treatment plan that comprises of:

  • Medication detox
  • Counseling
  • Support groups
  • And other types of therapies 

Despite being so intensive, patients would still return home to continue with their dealings at the end of each day. The duration of day treatment programs depends on individual condition. While some patients may complete their treatment within a few weeks, others may take a longer time to gain the confidence to overcome the temptation of alcohol consumption.

2). Intensive Outpatient Program

This is yet another type of outpatient rehab program that offers more flexibility than the day treatment program. The intensive outpatient program usually involves meeting either during the day or evening, but at times this isn’t beneficial for patients who have other scheduled commitments. This program usually starts with more frequent meetings but as recovery goals are achieved, meetings become less frequent.  This type of program is recommended for individuals with a strong, stable support system at home, as it enables them to receive treatment from treatment specialists during the day and practice what they learn at home.



3). Continuing Care Group (Group Therapy)

This is the most flexible type of outpatient rehab and usually the final stage in the alcohol addiction recovery process. Continuing care groups help patients to maintain their abstinence as well as provide them with an avenue to discuss their challenges and accomplishments during the treatment program. During group meetings, patients can also discuss areas of their lives that they are struggling to develop; coping skills, finding patterns in negative behavior, etc. The continuing care group is also a way of reminding patients that they are not alone in their efforts to achieve sobriety. The continuing care group may meet once or twice a week for a few hours depending on what member patients prefer. Community care groups and family therapy come under the continuing care group program.  The community care group involves setting up a small or medium-sized group meeting within a location closer to an individual. It allows the involved individual to share his or her addiction problems with others within the same locality. Family therapy involves bringing together patients and their family members to discuss their addiction problem and how best to support the patient in the recovery process.


Advantages of Outpatient Rehab


Except under certain severe conditions, inpatient rehab is not necessarily more effective than outpatient rehab. Alcohol addiction recovery through outpatient rehab is mostly preferred for several reasons, which include:

1). Greater Flexibility:

Outpatient rehab offers greater flexibility to patients. Under this program, patients have the freedom to continue with their normal daily activities. That is, patients are allowed to continue with their work, jobs, business, pursuit, and normal commitments during the addiction recovery process. With outpatient rehab, there is little or no disruption to the patient’s daily life.

2). Greater Confidentiality:

With the inpatient rehab program, individuals need to inform their employers, friends, family members, etc. about their unavailability before they commence the inpatient program. However, outpatient rehab offers more confidentiality with regard to participation. Individuals don’t need to tell anybody that they are undergoing any alcohol addiction recovery treatment as they would not be separated from their normal life during the treatment program.

3). Opportunity to Apply Learned Lessons:

One of the most important advantages of outpatient rehab over inpatient rehab is that it allows patients to quickly apply the lessons learned during treatment programs to real-world situations. Unlike inpatient rehab, where individuals are only able to apply the lessons learned in real life after the program, outpatient rehab allows the real-life application of the techniques learned during the therapy while the outpatient program is ongoing. This also allows the patient to get feedback and adjust the lessons and techniques they’ve learned to their specific needs.

4). More Affordable:

Outpatient rehab is more affordable than inpatient rehab as patients do not need to pay extra money for living facilities, meals, etc. The average daily cost of inpatient drug rehab is between $400 – $900, whereas, outpatient rehab costs between $140 to $500, according to Northpoint Washington study.


 Final Thoughts on Outpatient Rehab

Although the benefits of participating in an outpatient rehab system listed above are impressive, the outpatient rehab program has some shortcomings as well. An insincere patient may consume alcohol when not under supervised care. Patients are still close to their old friends and triggers that may tempt them to take a bit of alcohol, making it challenging to achieve sobriety.  Moreover, some patients may require 24/7 assistance of treatment specialists to handle alcohol withdrawal symptoms, which is not possible in an outpatient program.



How to Make Outpatient Rehab Work

Although alcohol addiction recovery through outpatient rehab has been proven to be incredibly effective, its efficacy also relies largely on the individual involved in the outpatient rehab program. That means the individuals involved in the outpatient rehab program must maximize their potential for addiction recovery success by observing the following tips:

  • Adhere to medication prescriptions and schedules: Patients must carefully adhere to instructions and schedules on any prescribed medications. Always inform your treatment specialist immediately if you notice any side effects.
  • Always listen: Patients must always listen to treatment specialists and maintain an open mind during the treatment process.
  • Always participate: Participating is key. Patients must always participate actively in all the overall recovery efforts i.e. group therapy and social support groups.
  • Balance stress: Most times, activities involved in an outpatient rehab program can be stressful. So, balance this stress by setting aside some time to relax and engage in recreational activities that do not involve the use of alcohol.
  • Be optimistic: Even when you experience some difficulties in the recovery process, do not get discouraged but stay focused, be optimistic, and move forward.
  • Be patient: Alcohol addiction recovery takes time. So don’t be disappointed when you haven’t noticed any significant results yet. The longer you remain in the recovery treatment, the better your chances of achieving long-term success.
  • Be truthful: Patients must be sincere and honest with their peers and treatment specialists during the recovery process.
  • Inquire: Don’t assume you understand everything and don’t keep to yourself. Ask questions about anything you’re unsure about.
  • Practice: One of the benefits of outpatient rehab is the opportunity to practice in real life. So always endeavor to practice the principles and techniques you learned during the recovery process in real-life situations. More so, practicing the techniques in real-life situations will help to achieve a faster, stronger, and more efficient recovery effort.



As seen above, the goal of outpatient rehab is to provide flexibility, convenience, and the greatest levels of independence for the concerned individuals. Hence, outpatient rehab functions as a tool to help patients handle their everyday lives while maintaining their sobriety. Simply undergoing withdrawal management is not the same as recovering from alcohol addiction and is not enough to help you recover from alcohol addiction. Therefore, you need to undergo a comprehensive recovery treatment.

Alcohol addiction recovery through outpatient rehab has been proven to be very effective in helping patients to achieve sobriety and get back on their feet to live a better life. Nevertheless, achieving success with the outpatient rehab program also requires the active participation of the individuals involved.

Don’t hesitate. There’s no better time than today to get started on your alcohol addiction recovery. Get the help you deserve today by consulting with alcohol addiction recovery specialists. For more information on how to get yourself or a family member started in one of our outpatient therapy programs, please go to our website or call us today. 


Full Circle Recovery
Addiction Recovery Treatment
(951) 737-6199
1860 Lampton Ln, 
Norco, CA 92860