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The Pros and Cons of Outpatient Care

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

January 24, 2024

Table of Contents

If you look at the outpatient alcohol and drug rehab benefits, you’ll see that there are many advantages to this form of treatment, not the least of which is the chance to start feeling normal again. However, there are some cons as well, including the need for more careful consideration to avoid relapse triggers.

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of rehabilitation, first by looking at inpatient care, from there we’ll cover outpatient treatment. From there, you can make an informed decision on what is the best route for you, or talk with our admissions team and let them offer their suggestions for your situation.

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  • Treatment is done under 24-hour supervision and round-the-clock care by trained professionals and therapists when receiving treatment
  • You’ll be in a community setting, one in which other residents are also battling their addiction which will help create a peer support network
  • Inpatient programs provide a higher level of care and for those who have relapsed before, this type of setting is more focused
  • In this setting, more of your day is focused to include group therapy sessions, individual counseling, and other treatment
  • You are free from the distractions of life’s daily activities and stressors.
  • A stable, sober environment
  • Medical and psychiatric monitoring is provided during withdrawal and recovery, especially important for people who have long-standing or severe substance use disorders or co-occurring mental or physical health disorders
  • Reduced risk of relapse due to the substance-free environment and close supervision
  • Intensive group sessions and individual therapy sessions
  • Intense support from staff to help facilitate sobriety
  • Reduced exposure to stressors and relapse triggers
  • Specialized treatment services, such as yoga, exercise, meditation, and animal-assisted therapy (depending on the facility)
  • A range of options including upscale facilities, some of which offer luxury amenities or accommodations for the needs of business executives if necessary
  • A higher likelihood of success in addiction recovery when treatment is longer and more intense


  • Freedom is more limited as you are not free to come and go as you please
  • In this highly structured environment, you have more of a rigid schedule that dictates when you wake up, when you eat, and schedule counseling sessions. This structure might seem overkill, but this strategy has proven to be more effective
  • Obviously, you can’t work when you’re in an inpatient program. This is a big difference between outpatient programs
  • Insurance coverage typically only covers outpatient treatment. Insurers like BlueCross offer plans that include coverage. You’ll want to ask your rehab center as to what options you have to handle payment.
  • limited access to the outside world and potentially limited visiting time from supports like family and other loved ones
  • The need to take time off from work, school, and home responsibilities
  • Increased cost of treatment because of the medical staff and increased amount of care and supervision required

Pros and Cons of Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient therapy is, as the name suggests, treatment where the patient has more freedom. There are many variations to outpatient treatment, including residential programs in which residents live in a community setting but are free to work or attend school. Outpatient programs might also include sober living facilities.


  • Outpatient treatment provides the basic structured living environment but allows residents the freedom to work, care for children, attend school or take job training
  • Counseling and therapy sessions, which we structure in a manner conducive to ensuring participation
  • Outpatient therapy provides a great opportunity to slowly segue into normal, everyday life. It gives residents the chance to use it as a test run for their eventual reintegration into society, free from addiction
  • Many outpatient therapy facilities include family counseling sessions that can help resident’s family members understand the challenges to be faced post-treatment
  • Outpatient therapy is generally a more affordable treatment option and is usually covered by insurance and other payment plans
  • Reduced cost due to not having to pay for room and board
  • The ability to attend work or school while receiving care
  • Increased access to support from friends and family members
  • Ability to practice relapse prevention techniques in the real world during the treatment process

As with anything else, there are some cons. While the outpatient therapy benefits are appealing, it’s important to understand that this is a critical transitional period.


  • There’s a higher risk of being exposed to some of the bad influences, risks and relapse triggers that pushed you toward substance abuse in the first place
  • You may still have access to drugs/alcohol
  • Daily life distractions could distract you from focusing on recovery
  • Access to your counselor is more limited than in a residential/inpatient facility
  • Lack of 24-hour care
  • Easier access to substances
  • Potentially heightened relapse risk if the home environment is unstable or stressful

Overall if you’re looking to attend treatment, you have a decision to make regarding inpatient vs outpatient care. That said, going to either will benefit you and get you on the right path toward overcoming your alcohol abuse or drug addiction problem. Rehab facilities can provide many patients with the medical support and emotional support they need to recover from a physical and mental health standpoint.

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Advice for Choosing Outpatient Therapy

Understanding the pros and cons is the best way to select the program that is best for you. To further increase the chances of success, an honest self-assessment is necessary at every junction of treatment including before and after rehab. Fitting in recovery to a busy life of work, school, and family can be challenging. Determining what length you would like to stay is a matter of circumstance and clinical opinion. While shorter stays like detox are effective at relieving the body of the substance and getting you started on the right path, you may still need to address many underlying issues.

The next step in recovery is residential treatment. Outpatient residential treatment is just one of the options. A more intensive version of outpatient treatment is called “intensive outpatient treatment.” Intensive outpatient programs, or IOP, is an ideal level of care for those who would benefit from intensive therapy but cannot attend inpatient treatment. IOPs also cater to those who have finished a residential treatment program and seek continued support in their recovery. The first few months after completing a residential program are often the most challenging, as young adults learn to successfully maintain their recovery while managing increasing independence.

Renaissance Recovery’s intensive outpatient therapy benefits residents in many ways, as this type of program helps to stabilize this transition, offering support, camaraderie and continued sobriety skill development. Whatever your choice, you should enter into recovery treatment with your eyes wide open. After rehab/detox, you’ll have a very short time to choose your next level of treatment. Rehab cleanses the body of toxins, but cleansing the soul requires continuing treatment.

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Intensive Outpatient at Renaissance Recovery

Whether you choose IOP, outpatient therapy or some sort of hybrid between the two depends on your needs and preferences. The best piece of advice we can give is to call around and talk to Admissions Directors at a few places. They’ll speak candidly about their program’s strengths and this conversation goes a long way toward helping your decision. If you’re ready to choose outpatient therapy, we’re ready to help you. At Renaissance Recovery, we offer a variety of treatment programs, including:

Also, to ensure that our rehab programs remain as affordable as possible, we work directly with health insurance providers to help all those who seek treatment. To learn more about our treatment programs and the recovery process, call our team today and learn what a treatment plan might look like.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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