The Major Differences Between In-residence and Outpatient Detox

The detox stage in a treatment program is often the most significant challenge on a patient's journey toward recovery. Patients at a rehab facility are presented with inpatient or outpatient treatment options.

Part of the decision for or against inpatient vs. outpatient is mainly determined by a preliminary physical examination, toxicology report, and other factors concerning a patient's medical history. Still, there are key treatment outcomes and other considerations.

Detox Treatments at a Glance

In-patient/residential Detox:

- 24/7 medical support and access to healthcare facilities

- Longer and more intensive treatment

- Recommended for severe addiction (especially for those with potentially lethal withdrawal symptoms)

- Costlier as a result of a comprehensive treatment package

Outpatient Detox:

- Less restrictive treatment, patients get to resume their daily lives

- Shorter treatment; standalone or long-term follow-up of inpatient treatment

- Recommended for mild to moderate addiction (or in cases with marked improvement)

- Independent care (patients are required to seek medical support from healthcare facilities)

Inpatient Detox and Rehab Treatment 

Inpatient, residential, or detox treatment centers are all used to describe rehab facilities, most of which are located in a hospital or luxury setting. Inpatient substance or alcohol abuse treatment is highly recommended for severe addiction cases and usually starts with detox. The detox process can be intensive for such individuals, as it can tax their bodies, sometimes leading to potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. 


Detoxification takes a different amount of time for each individual. Detox often lasts anywhere from a few days to two weeks, although this period can vary based on the individual circumstances of the person recovering. 


Some of the variables that might determine how long detox takes are the following: 

  • Co-occurring disorders
  • The extensiveness of the alcohol or substance use disorder  
  • The severity of the need for medical intervention
  • The intensity of withdrawal symptoms 
  • Quantity of the drug recently consumed 


Whether it's alcohol, prescription drugs, or any other substance, detoxing from an addictive substance typically means coping with withdrawal and other complications. At the same time, the body eliminates drugs or alcohol, and other toxins. Common withdrawal symptoms might include, but are not limited to, the following, depending on the kind of addiction: 

  • Rapid or erratic heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Hypertension 
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia  
  • Headache
  • Fatigue  
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors


Detox focuses on controlling the short-term cleansing of the body, while long-term rehabilitation addresses the behavioral and environmental variables that contribute to addictive behavior. These adverse effects may be managed by taking prescribed drugs, intravenous therapy, or a combination of both administered by trained medical personnel.


Inpatient treatment centers are rehab facilities that take patients who need extended stays and a higher level of care. Some people have varying addiction levels, and the care level they need is reflected in their treatment. Those with mild addiction may prefer to go to outpatient treatment centers. The expert providers at an inpatient program will conduct a comprehensive assessment and devise a custom treatment plan following detox to ensure that the patient's recovery journey leads to a healthier and happier life. 


Inpatient rehab programs usually last from a month to half a year. Patients are given around-the-clock supervision by clinical staff and specialists who provide medical and emotional support. Some patients may opt for out-of-state facilities, away from the distracting influences in their environmental reality, which in many cases, could be the cause of their drug and alcohol addiction.


An inpatient addiction treatment program may be pricier than outpatient alternatives since it includes a comprehensive range of on-site offerings. These include patient accommodation, nutritious meals according to the patient's dietary needs and pre-existing health conditions, 24/7 monitoring by center personnel, medicine management, daily therapy groups such as relapse prevention, and family education. Physical activity sessions with certified instructors are typically conducted in a comfortable setting to compensate for a busy daily routine, which supports full recovery for the next day before starting the next cycle. 

Outpatient Detox Treatment

Outpatient detoxification treatment is the preferred method for mild to moderate addiction problems. When a person chooses outpatient detox, it occurs outside of an addiction treatment facility. You'll have to travel to the rehab center for daily monitoring and medication. 


The first consultation will last between one and two hours when the doctor completes a physical examination. You'll start your therapy at that time. Each subsequent meeting will continue for around half an hour. On average, a full outpatient detox lasts six and a half days. However, this may vary from three to 14 days, depending on the individual and the addiction severity.


The most apparent advantage is that outpatient detox allows you to stay home during treatment and keep up with work and other obligations. It's less costly and gives you more flexibility than inpatient treatment. Family and friends are close by to provide moral support when you go through withdrawal. 


Patients experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms are not good candidates for outpatient detox, despite its convenience and price. To avoid potentially fatal consequences, these people will need to be under constant observation in the medical environment of an inpatient rehab facility.


After detox, you can participate in outpatient treatment, which includes psychoeducation on drug use and individual or group therapy sessions. Additionally, patients must visit a hospital or healthcare facility to receive proper medical treatment to manage any lingering withdrawal symptoms following detoxification. 


The entire program may stretch from three months to over a year, depending on the intensity of the patient's condition. Outpatient services are, at times, also the next step for individuals who have completed their inpatient treatment as a means of continuous recovery. 

Making a Decision

Patients should always choose inpatient or outpatient detox according to their needs and not let cost be the determining factor. Inpatient and outpatient programs are not always alternatives to each other. Inpatient detox and treatment programs have higher success rates, followed by quality follow-up care compared to outpatient rehab programs. 


The main difference between inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol detox is recommended for people with severe addictions who require around-the-clock monitoring. They are more successful than outpatient detox programs because people who detox from opioids or benzodiazepines, for example, direct medical supervision to ensure their safety. Opioids and benzodiazepines are highly addictive substances and can cause severe side effects if they are abruptly stopped. Inpatient detox programs also have higher success rates because they allow detoxing individuals to focus entirely on their recovery without distractions.


Patients must choose an inpatient or outpatient treatment for alcohol and drug addiction that is safe, as it is the first stage of treatment. You want to start with a secure foundation, and a suitable detox program will speed up your recovery. Hence, patients regain confidence and control to enjoy the highest quality of life. Choosing the proper treatment will allow you to return to your daily activities and responsibilities with minimal interruption. While most detox programs are similar, there are a few key things to consider when choosing between inpatient and outpatient treatment programs that will help you get the best results and get you back to your daily activities as soon as possible.


Wish Recovery is a luxury rehab center in Los Angeles where people receive residential treatment from medical professionals wholly invested in their addiction recovery to regain control of their lives in comfort and return to family life, work, or school confidently. Our specialists and other expert staff provide a holistic type of treatment services. We are committed to guiding you through every step of your recovery as you overcome your addiction and learn how not to let drug or alcohol addiction control your life any longer. While inpatient detox and residential treatment programs have pros and cons, we want to partner with you to guide you toward freedom and happiness.

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