The Pros and Cons of Outpatient Care

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Clinically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated:


Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

If you look at the outpatient therapy 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.

Pros and Cons of Inpatient Treatment Centers

As the name implies, inpatient treatment is when a person resides full time at a treatment facility. Typically, these stays last a few weeks to a couple of months, depending upon the severity of the addiction and the willingness of the participant. Medical professionals may also call inpatient treatment “residential treatment” and different facilities have slightly different structures to their programs.


  • Treatment is done under 24-hour supervision by trained professionals and therapists;
  • You’ll be in a community setting, one in which other residents are also battling their addiction;
  • 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 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 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 a rigid schedule that dictates when you wake up, when you eat, and scheduled 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.
  • ited 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 freedoms. 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 a normal 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.
  • 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 towards 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 stressfu

Depending on the substance being abused, an outpatient detox protocol may not be able to adequately account for or manage the dangerous or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms or other complications.

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.” 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.

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:

To learn more about our treatment programs, call our team today.

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Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

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Paige R

“They truly cared for me and the other people that I served with! From this group, I have made 8 new brothers and friends for life! We have continued on, after the program, to take care of each other”

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Courtney S

“Great staff who took the time to get to know me. They have a lot of experience in this field and have first hand experience with what I was going through. IOP is outstanding and really built up a ton of great relationships and found this program to be a ‘breath of fresh air’.”

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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