Is Inpatient or Outpatient Rehab Right for You?

Last Updated on October 4, 2023

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Just as each individual experiences addiction differently, treatment should also vary based on the unique circumstances and needs of each person. Outpatient rehab and inpatient rehab both offer some great advantages for individuals who are seeking to reclaim their lives from addiction and start fresh. If you’re wondering about the differences between inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab, as well as how each option would affect your daily life, this blog will help give you some clarity.

What is inpatient treatment?

Inpatient rehab for drug and alcohol addiction requires that individuals live in an addiction treatment center for an extended period of time, typically 30, 60 or 90 days. Nova’s inpatient rehab program lasts at least 90 days because according to the National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA), the longer a client is in treatment, the more likely they are to experience positive treatment outcomes.1

During inpatient rehab, clients will work through gender-specific addiction treatment programs that utilize behavioral therapies and other specialized therapies to address self-defeating behaviors and replace them with positive ones. Therapies used during inpatient drug and alcohol rehab may include:

In addition to therapeutic interventions, inpatient rehab programs also place a heavy focus on relapse prevention by equipping clients with essential coping techniques and strategies to manage stress, anxiety, depression and other negative emotions in everyday life. Many addicted individuals have learned to cope with these things by using drugs or alcohol as a crutch, but in rehab, they will learn how to replace those unhealthy habits with more positive ones.

Inpatient rehab also focuses on physical recovery by providing nutritious meals and a daily physical fitness class to help heal the body from the damage caused by the harmful chemicals found in drugs and alcohol.

What are the primary benefits of inpatient drug rehab?

Inpatient drug rehab provides a number of benefits for individuals who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Here are some of the primary benefits you should consider.

  • Clients have more time to address and resolve the underlying issues of their addiction. While in detox, clients are able to address their physical and psychological dependence on drugs or alcohol. In inpatient rehab, that process continues with an intense investigation of the underlying causes and contributors of their addiction. This process cannot be rushed and will be different for everyone, so it’s important that rehab provides adequate time to address these issues and to modify the negative behaviors.
  • Clients have more opportunities to establish a peer recovery support community. In inpatient rehab, clients are surrounded by peers in recovery who have similar life experiences with addiction. As a result, clients will have plenty of time and opportunities to engage with other individuals in recovery, provide and receive support, and share life experiences.
  • Clients have a safe place to be sober for an extended period of time. After detox, sometimes returning home can put clients in a harmful living environment that could compromise their sobriety. Inpatient rehab is designed to be a safe, sober, and supportive living environment where clients can remain sober without any tempting outside influences. A sober environment is ideal for those in early recovery who do not have a great deal of experience being sober.
  • Clients have an increased chance of long-term success in their sobriety. Inpatient rehab provides many essential life skills, tools, and educational resources that will increase a client’s chances for long-term success and decrease their risk for relapse.

Are there any negative aspects of inpatient drug rehab?

While enrolled in inpatient treatment, clients will have limited access to the outside world. This means family visits and phone calls will need to be organized in advance and communication via social media and email is not permitted. Although these rules may seem strict, they exist to protect the sobriety of individuals in treatment and to also maintain a focus on personal recovery and wellness.

Where does Nova offer inpatient treatment?

Nova’s inpatient long-term rehab center is located in Wimberley, Texas on five acres of land about 45 minutes southwest of Austin. Our Wimberley rehab center provides luxurious amenities, evidence-based individualized treatment, and gender-specific programs for adult men and women in recovery.

What is outpatient drug rehab?

Intensive outpatient drug rehab (IOP) is comprised of a series of structured addiction treatment sessions and clinical counseling involving a group of individuals in recovery. Group sessions meet several times each week in a safe, sober, clinical setting. Discussions are primarily focused on the following topics:

  • Life skills
  • Social skills
  • Relapse prevention
  • Family dynamics
  • Chemical dependency education
  • Problem-solving

Weekly IOP meetings are designed to provide social support, accountability, and education to support the continued sobriety of clients who have recently completed detox. Most often, clients complete residential inpatient rehab before moving on to an IOP program, but it is possible to enroll in IOP immediately after completing a detox program if you are unable to commit to a long-term residential program.

What are the primary benefits of outpatient drug rehab?

Intensive outpatient programs provide many benefits for clients who have completed residential rehab as well as for those who are coming straight from detox. These benefits include:

  • Clients engage in structured recovery support. It is essential for people in early recovery to be actively involved in a structured recovery support program as they will face many challenges and struggles while learning to live a sober lifestyle. IOP provides structured addiction treatment sessions several times a week to keep clients engaged, accountable, and actively committed to their sobriety.
  • Clients are afforded more flexibility. For clients who cannot commit to a long-term inpatient rehab program, IOP provides the flexibility they need to prioritize their recovery without neglecting other responsibilities such as childcare, work, or school.
  • Clients have more opportunities to establish a sober support system. IOP connects individuals in recovery with other people who have similar life experiences. This helps them to establish a recovery support system that will carry and support them through the obstacles of early sobriety.

Are there any negative aspects of outpatient rehab?

Since IOP is not confined to a safe, inpatient sober facility, individuals in recovery may find themselves in harmful living situations at home. In some cases, a family member or friend may also struggle with addiction, making it more difficult for the individual in recovery to remain sober. Additionally, having access to alcohol and other substances could increase a person’s risk of relapse.

IOP programs at Nova are also not gender-specific like inpatient drug rehab, which could be more uncomfortable for some individuals who prefer a gender-specific setting.

Where does Nova offer outpatient rehab?

Nova offers an intensive outpatient program in both Austin and Houston, Texas. IOP treatment is designed for adult men and women in recovery and the full program lasts about eight weeks.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient: The Choice Is Yours

Regardless of your situation, no one else can tell you which option is the best choice for you. That is a choice you must make on your own. If you need assistance, Nova representatives are available to provide a professional recommendation based on our years of experience treating individuals in recovery. Our admissions team is always available to talk to you about your options. Whether you need more information or you’re ready to enroll, an admissions specialist is ready to speak with you today. 


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment


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