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Teen Rehab: Inpatient vs. Outpatient Substance Abuse Treatment

Drug rehab is the most effective way to overcome an addiction. The two most prominent types are inpatient, or residential, and outpatient rehab. Talk with your teen and their doctors to determine which may be the best for your family.


8 min read

Does My Teen Need Drug Rehab?

Teens often begin abusing drugs or alcohol voluntarily to cope with stress, to succumb to peer pressure, or just to experience the high or the buzz. But substance abuse has devastating implications on the adolescent brain, and unchecked, this can evolve into an addiction, which is when the brain and body intensely crave the drug or alcohol at all costs.

teen drug addiction rehab facts

Addiction is a complex disease and one that may require professional help. But not enough get the help they need. According to a study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (also known as the SAMSHA), only 11.2% of the 23.5 million people aged 12 or older who needed treatment for substance abuse in 2009 received the specialty treatment they required. After consulting a professional, if it’s determined that rehab may be an option, the next step will be to decide which type of specialty treatment works best for your teen’s individual needs.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab

The two types of specialty treatment options are:

  • Inpatient rehab (also known as residential rehab)
  • Outpatient rehab

Both options offer similar rehabilitation programs, including 12-step groups, support groups and therapy sessions. They also have similar expectations for the patients — especially regarding facility rules and sobriety during stay.

The major difference between both options is that inpatient rehab requires patients to live at the rehab facility during their treatment, disconnecting them from their normal routines and possible addictive triggers. Outpatient rehab allows patients to live at home, but certain sessions may take place at the facility. In both cases, there are pros and cons to consider.

Inpatient Rehab

Depending on your teen’s needs, a residential rehabilitation facility might just be what can help them along in their recovery from substance abuse.

teens drugs and alcohol

What Is Inpatient Rehab?

The primary requirement of any inpatient rehab facility is that the patient lives at the actual facility. Programs typically last for 28–90 days, but this can vary depending on the individual needs of the patient and whether or not there’s progress being made towards recovery. In some instances — especially when it’s apparent that progress is being made, but the stay isn’t quite long enough — the treatment facility may offer an extension so that the patient may stay in the program a little while longer.

Often the first treatment in residential rehab, detoxification rids the body of unhealthy and toxic substances over a period of abstinence from the drug or substance. Residential rehab can be especially effective for teens who suffer strong withdrawal symptoms as a result of the detox process. The facility’s medical personnel are always on hand to monitor and treat any issues that may come about.

Once the patient has detoxed — which can take a few days or up to a few weeks — and the drugs or alcohol are out of their system, it’s on to the rest of the rehabilitation treatments that are recommended by their caregiver.

Treatments offered by inpatient facilities include:

  • Group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • 12-step meetings
  • Talk sessions
  • Daily medication (if required)

Benefits of Inpatient Rehab

Some reasons to choose a residential rehab facility include:

  • 24-hour care
  • Multidisciplinary team of specialists
  • Distraction-free environment
  • Uprooting the patient from their old, negative environment
  • Single-minded focus on recovery — especially for the long-term
  • Being a part of a community (i.e. there are others working towards sobriety with them)

Types of Inpatient Programs

Inpatient treatment costs include room and board and must factor in the overhead costs of around-the-clock care. These facilities are typically recommended for patients with longer and more serious histories of substance abuse. In these instances, the individualized care provided at these facilities can only help them.

Inpatient programs include:

  • 28- or 30-day programs – These programs are the most affordable of the lot — and most likely to be covered by insurance. They allow the patient to fully detox, start getting sober, learn about their specific addiction and begin participating in counseling and therapy sessions.
  • 60-day programs – These programs allow the patient to fully detox and resolve withdrawal issues before helping them get started on sober living habits.
  • 90-day programs – These programs are often recommended for more severe cases of addiction. They help the patient get started on sobriety but also work with them through support networks and in-depth therapy and counseling sessions. These programs often have the highest success rate.
  • Luxury or Executive programs – For executives, business owners and more affluent patients that require the amenities that they’re familiar with in their everyday lives, these programs may be recommended by a rehab counselor.
  • Hospitalization programs – In certain more serious cases, a patient may be suggested for hospitalization. The reasons for this program include the patient requiring intensive medical care during detox, they’re suffering from powerful withdrawal symptoms, they’re suffering from delirium tremens or because a co-occurring mental disorder severely affects their safety and the safety of others.

Outpatient Rehab

In some cases, outpatient treatment may help your teen find a balance between professional rehab services and a quality network of friends and family.

teen drug addiction rehab cost facts

What Is Outpatient Rehab?

While inpatient or residential rehab requires a full-time stay at a treatment facility, outpatient rehab allows addicts to continue living at home while receiving the services they need. It involves taking a look at the patient’s life on a holistic level and finding the solution that can help them stay on the road to recovery without removing them from their environments. Because of this, outpatient rehab is often recommended for lower-risk patients or patients who are already recovering well from their addiction — especially after they’ve completed inpatient rehab.

If your teen is recommended for an intensive outpatient program (also known as IOP), they will be required by the SAMSHA to take part in at least some form of therapy (i.e. either group therapy or individual therapy) for a minimum of 9 hours per week. On top of this, individual facilities may often mandate additional hours, depending on the nature of your teen’s needs. Intensive outpatient treatment focuses on relapse prevention and is for those who don’t require supervised and around-the-clock monitoring during and after detox. In some cases, IOP may be recommended for patients who have already completed a detox and need to be eased back into their everyday lives.

On the other hand, a non-intensive outpatient program may be recommended for your teen if they’ve already shown progress through intensive outpatient or inpatient rehab treatment.

This program bolsters the patient’s recovery by providing them with services including:

  • Continued support
  • Counseling (i.e. either for the individual or for the family)
  • Group therapy
  • Rehab prevention
  • Motivation enhancement therapy
  • Psychiatric treatment for co-occurring disorders
  • Seminars and classes on addiction and treatment
  • Ongoing prescriptions

Partial hospitalization is another outpatient rehab program that may be recommended if your teen requires medical monitoring but has both a stable living arrangement and a quality network of friends and family at home. These programs require that the patient receives therapy at a hospital for 4–6 hours a day for several days per week.

Benefits of Outpatient Rehab

Some reasons to choose a residential rehab facility include:

  • Programs don’t conflict with daily activities and responsibilities
  • Family therapy sessions are often provided
  • Counseling sessions are provided and can work around patient’s schedule
  • Lessons learned in rehab can be applied immediately in everyday life
  • Support from quality network of family and friends can help supplement treatment
  • Usually more affordable than inpatient rehab

Types of Outpatient Services

sad teen girl addict sitting on floor

Outpatient rehab offers specific therapies for your teen and it’s important to talk to the facility and your teen’s doctor to find out what’s right for their unique needs. Often, facilities will offer a range of behavioral therapy options — the goal being to encourage and empower your teen to be in control of their own lives.

A few of the behavioral therapy options that are most commonly provided include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (also known as CBT) – provides training that allows the patient to recognize the triggers and consequences of drug use, and to learn coping skills necessary when in vulnerable situations
  • Contingency management therapy – a system of positive reinforcement in the form of vouchers that serve as rewards for positive behavior — as defined by the professional for your teen — and may be exchanged for prizes or additional services
  • Motivational interviewing – explores both the patient’s internal motivations for and hesitancies towards change, empowering them to want to stay committed to recovery

Other programs may also be provided to supplement the core counseling and therapy programs that are available. These can help a recovering addict get healthy and stay healthy as they live their lives professionally and socially.

These supplementary programs can include:

  • Job counseling
  • Continuing health care
  • Family therapy
  • Parenting courses
  • Continuing legal services
  • Drug education
  • Community resource awareness
  • Alumni groups
  • Spirituality sessions
  • 12-Step meetings
  • Recreational activities

Does My Teen Need Rehab?

drug rehab government cost facts

If your child is dealing with substance addiction, speak to a treatment advisor, like those of us at We are experienced in determining the treatment options that are most effective in different situations, and can advise you on whether your child needs inpatient or outpatient rehab. Not only can we provide you with customized treatment recommendations, we can connect you with facilities that are catered specifically to your teen’s struggle. If you need help choosing between different facilities, we can assist you with that too. Our help comes to you free of cost and obligation, and we’re glad to offer as much or as little of it as you need.

It can be quite difficult to reach out for help, but your child’s life is worth it. Many parents before you have taken this step, and have seen their child transform from an addicted teenager to a healthy young adult. Addiction has ruled your family for long enough — it’s time to take action against it. Call us at (844) 229-6013 to speak confidentially with a recovery expert today.


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