Updated on February 28, 2023
7 min read

Inpatient Treatment for Addiction

What is Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment takes place in a secure hospital setting. This treatment is appropriate for people who require medical oversight during detox. 

People at these facilities receive constant medical, emotional, and addiction support during their live-in treatment. They receive targeted support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Often, a person at an inpatient rehab center will have an assigned single or shared room. They may eat in groups and regularly attend one-on-one or group therapy sessions.

Inpatient vs. Residential Care

Inpatient treatment and residential care are similar but have some key differences. People live, eat, and sleep in residential treatment, but onsite medical care is less comprehensive than inpatient rehab

To attend residential or inpatient treatment, a person must check themselves into a facility full-time. They then become a full-time treatment center resident. For example, a person going into delirium tremens (DTs) or severe withdrawal needs inpatient care, not residential treatment.


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Who Needs Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment can be extremely beneficial for a person who needs more intensive support to recover from a substance use disorder (SUD). The people who would benefit the most from inpatient treatment are those who:

  • Have severe addictions or substance abuse problems
  • Need assistance in detoxing
  • Need around-the-clock care and support
  • Are financially stable
  • Don't have a safe and secure home environment
  • Have a high risk for withdrawal
  • Have a history of relapsing

Signing up for inpatient rehab can help you avoid everyday triggers and stressors. It can help you avoid drugs and alcohol to focus on your recovery.

However, inpatient treatment isn't for everyone. Outpatient treatment can be a good option if you don't need 24/7 care.

How Do Inpatient Programs Work?

During inpatient treatment, you will live at the facility. Your connection to the outside world is kept at a minimum, and you'll only have a small bag of personal belongings. Most facilities don't even allow cell phones.

Throughout treatment, you will experience:

  • An intensive daily schedule for therapies and activities
  • 24-hour medical supervision
  • Professional clinical staff, doctors, and counselors
  • Time for relaxation and reflection
  • Learning skills for recovery, sobriety, and relapse prevention
  • Assistance in managing withdrawal symptoms

The goal of inpatient treatment is to complete recovery with little to no chance of relapse.

What to Expect During Inpatient Treatment

Here are a few things you can expect when you check yourself into inpatient treatment:

Medical Screening

Medical screening is done to check on your overall health as well as the severity of the addiction. This process occurs on the first day and usually takes a few hours.

The screening process also includes an interview. This interview can help medical professionals assess the situation and design a treatment plan for your needs.


You will undergo a medical detox at the inpatient facility to eliminate drugs or alcohol from your system.7 You may experience withdrawal symptoms during this stage.

Staff and medical professionals at the facility will help you detox safely to avoid harmful withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms include:8

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Aches and pains
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Cravings

Structured Rehab Care

After detox, you'll move into structured rehab care. This stage involves:7

  • Therapy
  • Counseling sessions
  • Medical treatments
  • Activities to keep you busy

Expect not to have much control over your schedule during inpatient rehab. This might be challenging to stick to, but it can help you focus on your recovery.

How Long Are Inpatient Programs?

The average stay at inpatient addiction centers is 28 days.1 However, most inpatient drug and alcohol rehab centers also offer 30, 60, or 90-day programs. Studies show spending more time at a facility may benefit long-term recovery. 

Research indicates people struggling with addiction need at least 3 months in a treatment program for the best chance of recovering.2 This includes the initial inpatient treatment followed by ongoing outpatient and aftercare.

Aftercare Planning

Addiction treatment aftercare is a plan designed to help you avoid a relapse. They also offer resources and techniques to help navigate sobriety.4

Aftercare planning can help you understand and avoid triggers or stressors. They can also help you manage your cravings. These plans often include:

  • Participating in a rehab facility’s alumni program
  • Consistent communication with a sponsor
  • Attending 12-step group meetings or another form of recovery meetings
  • Starting new hobbies to stay busy
  • Moving into a sober living housing program
  • Attending one-on-one or group therapy sessions
  • Constructing a relapse prevention plan to help manage when triggered

An aftercare plan is important because the risk of relapsing after treatment is at its highest in the first couple of months.3 It's recommended that adults follow the aftercare plan for at least 1 year.

Most programs recommend ‘90 in 90’ or 90 AA meetings in the first 90 days, followed by ‘180 in 180.’ Many successful recovering alcoholics attend at least one meeting every day for the first year or more. Adolescents often need more prolonged aftercare than adults.5

How to Find the Right Rehab Program

Call your insurance provider to help you find a rehab facility. You can also check the directory of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).6

When checking out a rehab facility, consider asking these questions: 

  • How much does treatment cost? 
  • Does insurance cover rehab? If not, are there other payment options? 
  • What are the policies for residents? For example, do they allow cellphone use or family visits? 
  • What types of addictions do medical professionals treat in this facility? 
  • What types of therapy do they offer? 
  • Do they treat co-occurring disorders (dual-diagnosis)?
  • Do they provide aftercare and sober living options?
  • What professionals are involved in inpatient treatment? 
  • Is the facility licensed and accredited? 

Alternatives to Inpatient Treatment

Consider intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) or partial hospitalization if inpatient treatment is restrictive or expensive.

  • Intensive outpatient programs: Involves 9 to 19 hours of weekly treatment sessions. These can be done during the day, evening, or weekends
  • Partial hospitalization programs: Includes at least 20 hours of weekly sessions. They are suited for people with unstable medical and psychiatric conditions. 

These services are one step below inpatient treatment in ASAM’s levels of care. They’re more intensive than outpatient treatment. However, in terms of effectiveness, they’re comparable to inpatient treatment.

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Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment requires people to live full-time in the facility for 24/7 medical supervision. On the other hand, outpatient treatment programs don't.

Outpatient treatment is a flexible program where you can continue your life somewhat normally. You can keep going to school, working a job, or maintaining relationships while attending treatment.

This type of rehab is ideal for people who struggle with less severe addiction or substance abuse. Outpatient treatment can also be used as an aftercare plan once you finish inpatient treatment. Although outpatient and inpatient treatment are different, both are effective ways to deal with addiction.

Pros and Cons of Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatments have both pros and cons. Whether an inpatient program is right for you can depend on the following factors:

  • The level of substance abuse
  • Your financial situation
  • The type of care needed

Pros of Inpatient Treatment

Pros of inpatient treatment include:

  • They’re more intense than outpatient rehab and can be effective for someone who needs more severe addiction treatment
  • Nurses can oversee medical detox services when necessary
  • People don’t have to worry as much about triggers that may cause relapse because they must always remain in the facility

Cons of Inpatient Treatment

Cons of inpatient treatment:

  • Inpatient rehab is more expensive than outpatient addiction treatment
  • People aren’t able to tend to any responsibilities during their stay
  • Leaving the inpatient facility can shock their system and lead to relapses

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How Much Does Inpatient Treatment Cost?

A 30-day stay at a residential treatment center will cost around $6,000, but prices can skyrocket for more well-known facilities. Some centers can charge up to $20,000 for a month-long stay. 

For those looking to attend 60 or 90-day programs, the price can be between $12,000 and $80,000. For high-profile people or celebrities seeking anonymity, centers often charge as much as $120,000.

Inpatient addiction treatment costs can vary greatly. Facilities with high reputations can be pricey. Additionally, the time someone spends at a treatment center also affects the price. 

Does Insurance Cover Inpatient Treatment?

The short answer is yes. SUD and AUD (substance and alcohol use disorders) are medical diseases that any accredited health insurance must cover in the U.S. 

Depending on the specifics of the policies and state, many insurance companies will cover at least a portion of the costs. Sometimes, insurance companies will cover the entirety of inpatient rehab programs. 

The types of insurance often used to attend inpatient rehab are:

  • State-financed insurance
  • Medicare or Medicaid
  • Private insurance 
  • Military insurance

Many inpatient care facilities will offer financing options so people can pay for their services over time rather than all at once. 

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Updated on February 28, 2023

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