Do Outpatient Only Recovery Centers Provide the Same Quality of Outpatient Care as Inpatient-and-Outpatient Centers?


Treatment centers that provide detox, recovery, and therapy services for people addicted to drugs and alcohol are located across the US. They serve the millions of men and women affected by substance abuse disorder commonly described as “addiction.”

There are two general types of recovery centers—inpatient and outpatient. Some centers offer dual-care programs at the same location. If you or your loved one plan on seeking treatment for drug or alcohol addiction in Atlanta, GA, and have concerns about the quality of care offered by each center, this guide may help put your mind at ease.

Outpatient vs Inpatient Quality of Care

Addiction recovery therapy can last for months. The choice between treatment programs depends heavily on the severity of the addiction, affordability, and the client’s life commitments such as to their career and family. The physician performing the diagnosis during intake will recommend a program that suits your circumstances.

Treatment can be done in either an outpatient or inpatient setting or a combination of both. Inpatient only recovery centers and inpatient-and-outpatient recovery centers design their facilities and programs with their clients in mind.

They provide similar services, but naturally, dual-care centers have the advantage of being able to serve clients in both an inpatient or outpatient setting. This, however, does not mean that the level or quality of care is better at dual-program centers. It simply means they offer a wider range of services in the same place.

Outpatient Only Recovery Centers

Outpatient only recovery centers offer treatment to clients who fit these characteristics:

• Are unable to reside at a residential program due to existing commitments
• Have mild drug or alcohol addiction
• Have a lower risk of relapse compared to those needing residential treatment

Clients usually transition to outpatient care following medical-assisted detox at a detox clinic. Once stabilized at the clinic, the client still needs to undergo psychotherapy, e.g., Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), to address underlying conditions associated with addiction.

The flexible, part-time treatment approach offered outpatient is especially suitable for those with daily responsibilities such as attending work, school or caring for family members. Clients meet with their therapist several days a week for a specified amount for hours.

These centers offer individual counseling and therapy, family therapy, and holistic therapy involving sports, music, and yoga. This all-inclusive treatment approach is designed to maximize the chance of recovery and lower the risk of relapse.

Although clients do not reside at these centers, they typically offer 24-hour online support to meet their needs. Clients also receive referrals to supplemental programs including community-based recovery groups such as Alcohol Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Inpatient-and-Outpatient Recovery Centers

Treatment centers that provide both intensive inpatient and outpatient care are like one-stop shops for all your recovery needs, in a stable and sober environment. They provide the facilities, amenities, and medical and psychological services, and require you to stay throughout the duration of treatment. Medically-assisted detoxification to aid withdrawal is done on site in a 24-hour, supervised environment.

This level of care is particularly suited to people with chronic addiction. They typically have a higher risk of relapse than if they were to undergo outpatient detox and return home daily to the environmental triggers of substance abuse. However, in-house treatment calls for great planning and preparation. Matters to be handled prior to entering rehab include:

• Letting loved ones know about your decision to seek residential treatment
• Discussing your absence with your employer
• Deciding who will care for your home or children while you’re gone

Once the client is stabilized and stops craving for drug or alcohol, they can transition seamlessly into post-detox therapy at the same location. At this point, treatment may be done in an outpatient setting where the client can return for a certain number of days and hours per week until treatment ends.

However, some centers will switch to psychological therapy within the residential environment. Residential centers take an intense, comprehensive approach to recovery offering individual, family, and holistic therapies.

Making the Choice

There may be no significant difference in the quality of care between these two types of treatment centers. In fact, studies show that outpatient treatment is as effective as inpatient. What determines the quality of care is how comprehensive the treatment plan is and the qualification and expertise of the professionals providing care.

Furthermore, your choice of center will depend on your recovery needs as diagnosed, personal obligations, and affordability. Most centers offer flexible payment plans for clients who have chronic addiction and require inpatient treatment but cannot otherwise afford the cost.

The ultimate goal of these centers is ensuring you are equipped with a robust relapse prevention plan to maintain sobriety after leaving rehab. You can make sobriety your new way of life by calling a recovery center near you that offers the type of services that suit your needs and circumstances.