available 24/7, 365

(888) 989-1479

Outpatient Versus Inpatient Behavioral Health Treatment – Which Is Best?

Table of Contents

Clients and families alike often wonder about the best course of treatment for themselves or their loved one. This is especially true if they haven’t had experience with addiction treatment before. With many levels of care, from residential, down to outpatient, the options can seem overwhelming. In this article, our goal is to offer some guidance in understanding the different levels of care, but ultimately it is with the assistance of the facility’s admissions department as to the most appropriate care for a loved one.

One item to note is that if the substance abuse is involved, a detox regimen of up to 10 days may be necessary to medically supervise the elimination of drugs and/or alcohol from the client’s system. Withdrawal from certain drugs can actually be dangerous, beyond being very uncomfortable and therefore clients should be supervised by appropriate medical professionals and should not try to detox alone.


Once treatment begins, the levels of care on both the mental health and the substance-abuse side are very similar. The highest level of care is residential which involves the treatment facility managing every aspect of the client’s life for a period between 30 and 90 days. Meals are be cooked, laundry will be washed and a full suite of therapeutic interventions will be pursued. Learn more about residential treatment


When the treatment team feels that the client has made sufficient progress at the residential level of care, the next step is PHP treatment. PHP provides the clients more opportunities to practice the coping skills developed at the residential level of care given their increased exposure outside of the treatment setting. . Learn more about PHP treatment

See also  Opiate Addiction Treatment: Is Marijuana the Answer?


Once again, upon appropriate clinical suggestion, clients who have made significant progress may join intensive outpatient or regular outpatient programs. Intensive outpatient may include transitional living housing and group therapy on a regular basis throughout the week. During this time, the client will be reinforcing relapse prevention skills and learning how to cope with the temptation in their daily life. Regular outpatient involves the client living at home and attending therapeutic sessions in the form of group therapy at the facility. Outpatient treatment may also be administered by an independent practitioner or clinician. Learn more about Intensive Outpatient Programs and Outpatient Treatment.

So back to the question of whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is the best option.

In broad terms, inpatient treatment in the form of residential or PHP is suggested for substance abuse and mental health clients that are not able to function independently while living on their own. These are typically clients that have severe addiction or mental health issues and require constant supervision and intensive therapy. Outpatient programs are suitable for a smaller subset of clients, including those who are transitioning down from a higher level of care or high functioning individuals – those who are able to maintain work, social and family relationships, but understand they have a problem. Other factors that the admissions team takes into account when suggesting a level of care are age, family support, length of use or mental illness, quantity and frequency of use (in cases of substance abuse) as well as emotional maturity and readiness.

See also  Why Mindfulness Works in Recovery

Here at Destination Hope, we know that this is a scary time and you want to make the best decision for your loved one. When choosing a facility or treatment program it can be hard to cut through the advertising and what is truth. We strive to offer our clients and their family members peace of mind knowing that our recommendations for their treatment are based on clinical best practices and the individual’s needs for long-term recovery. We encourage you to speak to our admissions counselors to discuss potential treatment avenues and ultimately what will be best and most effective.

Give us a call

Help is one step away

100% Confidential | 24/7 Helpline

Addiction & Mental Health Topics

What is Step 4 in AA?

Individual Therapy Program at Destination Hope

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

Is Alcohol a Stimulant?

Rehab Miami: Destination Hope

What Are M367 Pills?

What Is Rohypnol? A Guide To Understanding The Controversial Drug

What is the Florida Baker Act?

Impulsive Vs Compulsive: What’s The Difference?