Addiction Treatment: Residential vs. Outpatient & What’s Best For You?

residential rehab outpatient treatment

If you are reading this right now and struggling with addiction, then you’ve probably already heard that small voice inside of you telling you it’s time to ask for help. If not, maybe it’s your friends or family who are begging you to put down the bottle. Or, it could be a judge who’s laid down the law: Get clean, or else. Whatever has led you to this point, if you’re even considering the possibility of seeking treatment, you’re already a long way down the road towards getting better. Admitting to yourself that you have a problem you can’t solve on your own is the first step. Asking for help is the next.

But where do you start? There are so many different addiction treatment options available, and not all of them are reliable. How can you make sure that when you finally ask for help, you get it? Knowledge is power, so read on as we explore the two main kinds of treatment that can help you find freedom from addiction: residential addiction treatment and outpatient rehab programs.

Residential Addiction Treatment

Residential addiction treatment (aka “inpatient,” or “rehab”) offers the works when it comes to addiction treatment. You’ll get access to professional guidance and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In return, you have to live on site during your treatment. While that may seem like a big commitment, being away from home has its benefits, including:

Fewer Distractions 

Entering a residential addiction treatment program allows you to focus full-time on healing your addiction. That’s not an easy process, and residential treatment allows you to take a break from the other stresses of life while you do it. Imagine leaving work, money problems, legal issues, and other daily burdens behind while you learn how to cope without drugs and alcohol. While you might be reluctant to leave your spouse or your kids, remember: It is very difficult to find the time you need to get better when you’re still trying to deal with everyday tasks at home. Being able to step away from your routine makes it possible to create a new, healthier, routine in recovery.

The Power of Community

Staying at a residential treatment center means you will be surrounded by a community of people who are all going through the same experience. Not only will they not be pressuring you to drink or use; but also, they’ll be there to help you feel less alone in your struggle. Even if you feel right now like nobody could understand what you’ve been through, you might be surprised. Creating a life free from addiction with friends that understand the reality of addiction and are rooting for you to succeed makes it easier to stay focused on walking the road of recovery.


Struggling with addiction is exhausting. You give up your hobbies and pastimes as every day becomes about surviving, and nothing more. Before long, you’ve forgotten what real fun even feels like. (And no, getting blackout drunk is not it.) Residential treatment helps you experience joy again. Learn to do yoga. Spend time with horses. Play a game of volleyball. Experience all the recreational activities the facility offers and learn what makes you feel truly happy. When you have completed treatment, you’ll have a list of new activities to do after work and on the weekends.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment

If you can’t commit to inpatient treatment — because of the time, the cost, or something else — don’t give up hope. There are many different kinds of outpatient addiction treatment programs available as well. Many outpatient treatment plans offer the same types of therapies and treatments as residential centers, but in a less-intensive (and less expensive) atmosphere. Some examples of outpatient addiction programs include:

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

PHP is the most strenuous outpatient program that many facilities offer. While still less comprehensive than inpatient treatment, this type of program allows you to experience a clinical addiction treatment plan that is customized just for you. Instead of living in the treatment facility, though, you will stay at your own home or in a sober living facility. The program tends to involve anywhere from six to eight hours of intensive addiction treatment. PHP is best for clients who want to take an initial step towards recovery but aren’t ready for residential; or, it can be used as a step-down program after leaving residential treatment. 

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

An IOP offers drug and alcohol treatment with more flexibility than a residential or PHP program.  While you still receive customized care in IOP, it’s for fewer hours than residential or PHP treatment. IOP is a great option for clients stepping down from residential addiction treatment. It can sometimes be used as the first step on the road to recovery, but it’s most successful for people who already have solid life skills and structure to their days.

Outpatient Program (OP)

Outpatient programs are the least intense and the most flexible treatment option. All it takes is a few hours a day, a few days a week, to commit to an outpatient track. This program is often the last step in the transition from residential treatment to “normal” life, but it can certainly be an option for anyone looking for support. 

Which program is right for you?

No two people are the same, and our struggles with addiction often feel unique as well. You deserve to experience the right treatment plan for you. When choosing a residential program, outpatient care, or a combination of programs, start by considering the following:

  • Cost 
  • Insurance coverage
  • Previous treatment experience
  • Your ability to stay sober at home in the past
  • Your work situation
  • Family responsibilities

However, if you’re still confused and unsure, you don’t have to struggle on your own. At Country Road, we can talk through your decision with you and help you decide which treatment option is best for you. Most of our team has been down the same path. In fact, some of them even went through Country Road on their road to recovery. Reach out today to figure out your next step and find freedom from addiction.