Content reviewed by Christian Losch, LCSW, LCADC, CEO of Pinelands

The field of mental health and addiction recovery treatment is on the rise, with more and more treatment centers opening up across the United States. With the increase in treatment resources, people have more opportunities to find a treatment program that best meets their needs.

If you are new to the idea of treatment, the increasing number of opportunities will likely feel overwhelming. You may have no idea what you’re looking to get out of a program or how to narrow down your options to find the best fit for your situation.

One way to narrow down the treatment programs that will work best for you is by understanding the two primary treatment options: residential (inpatient) treatment and outpatient treatment. Understanding these two programs can help you better recognize the severity of your own needs, goals, and treatment for your recovery.

Residential treatment provides live-in care for patients.

Residential—also known as rehab or inpatient—facilities offer live-in care for patients throughout treatment and recovery. Here, patients stay in a controlled environment that offers 24-hour medical and emotional support.

Residential treatment facilities offer long-term care, with most programs running between 28 days and six months, although some programs may last up to two years. Patients can fully commit their lives to sobriety during inpatient treatment without any outside distractions.

Inpatient programs are intensive and comprehensive, with patients receiving treatment from several different mental health specialists at any given time. A patient will have access to psychologists, counselors, psychiatrists, and therapists to help individualize care to the best of the treatment facility’s ability.

Most residential treatment programs begin with medical detox, which is necessary when individuals abruptly stop regular substance use. Supervised detox is critical because withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and unmanageable. These programs are equipped to provide medications and support to make detox as comfortable as possible.

Outpatient treatment allows patients to receive therapy while they live at home.

Outpatient treatment facilities offer treatment to patients as they go about their daily routines while still living at home. Outpatient treatment allows its participants to continue work, school, and other responsibilities while attending regular therapy appointments that work around their schedule.

Outpatient programs vary based on the severity of mental health distress experienced by a patient. For example, some people may only need to attend one or two weekly sessions, while others may require daily therapy. Outpatient programs can last a few months to a few years, depending on the program and the patient’s goals for treatment.

It is crucial that individuals receiving outpatient treatment have a stable living environment to return to and loved ones supporting them through their treatment process. Outpatient treatment is an excellent option for those looking to recover from mild addiction or working to sustain long-term recovery.

Residential treatment holds life-altering benefits for those struggling with severe mental health distress.

Understanding each treatment program’s benefits is essential in determining if residential treatment is the right choice for you. Outpatient treatment holds several benefits, such as program affordability, the ability to live at home, maintaining access to your support system, and flexibility with your schedule.

However, when mental health disorders, addiction, and substance use are severe, outpatient treatment may not be the best course of action. More severe conditions require an increased level of care that residential treatment centers can more effectively provide than outpatient treatment facilities. Some other benefits of residential treatment centers include:

  • 24/7 support
  • Better structure and more intensive programs
  • Increased options for therapeutic modalities
  • More frequent treatment sessions
  • The ability to work through trauma in a safe and secure environment
  • The ability to live in a sober environment, free from the pressures or triggers of the outside world
  • Greater ability to heal from co-occurring conditions
  • More intimate relationships with staff and other peers at the facility
  • Being surrounded by others that understand exactly where you are

How does someone make the final decision between residential or outpatient treatment?

If you are still unable to decide what program would best fit your needs, consider seeking evaluation from a mental health professional. They will be able to help you determine the severity of your mental illness, substance use, or addiction and refer you to a program based on their findings.

Although both residential treatment and outpatient treatment programs have a lot to offer, residential treatment programs are more structured and intensive. Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford offers a residential treatment program among many other program options. For more information about the programs we offer, call Pinelands today at (877) 557-5372.