Detox is the process of cleansing toxins, controlled substances or alcohol in your body system. Medical detox is the part of addiction treatment designed to manage withdrawal symptoms and rid your body of toxins. It can come in two forms. You can either choose between outpatient and inpatient detoxification.

Many people believe that one form of detoxification is better than the other. However, that’s not true. Each detoxification option has unique benefits. Both outpatient and inpatient detoxification programs are effective in helping you recover from addiction. Therefore, the best option for you is a function of your personal needs.

When you’re ready to undergo detox, the next thing to consider is whether you need outpatient or inpatient care. Your doctor or mental health professional can help you decide depending on the severity of your addiction. Nevertheless, understanding the two forms of detox will help you make the best choice.

What is Outpatient Detoxification?

Outpatient detox is an excellent stand-alone option for people with mild addiction symptoms. It’s practical, safe, and less restrictive than inpatient detox. On average, it lasts for about six days. Outpatient doesn’t require you to stay in any facility. Instead, patients visit the facility for checkups and treatments.

The program involves group counselling, individual therapy sessions, and family counselling. With individual counselling, the underlying factors and causes of your addiction are treated. Plus, it equips you with healthy behaviours and coping skills. At the same time, group counselling allows you to connect with others who understand your addiction problem.

Outpatient detox programs differ in intensity and length. Most often, patients spend 9 to 11 hours a week visiting the center. It’s usually recommended to individuals who cannot afford to live in a rehab center. Outpatient detoxification is also a way of continuing treatment if you’re transitioning from an inpatient facility.

Pros of Outpatient Detoxification: The upsides

Here are some of the benefits of outpatient detox that make it a preferred treatment option.

Keep you connected with reality

Unlike inpatient detoxification, which creates a haven from the real world, outpatient services allow you to stay attached to reality. Most people in inpatient facilities are detached from the real world. After they’re discharged, they find it difficult to adjust to reality. On the other hand, outpatient care teaches you how to develop coping skills and support methods applicable to real life.

A follow-up to inpatient detox

Outpatient centers allow you to continue treatment after completing your stay at a detox facility. It’s an effective follow-up to inpatient detox. Outpatient detox offers you the advantage of easing into your daily routine without experiencing a relapse.

Offers a support system

Outpatient care helps you avoid the stress of being separated from your loved ones. Because you’ll be living at home, you can enjoy care and support from your close relationships.

It also offers room for growth to your friends and family members. While you get detox care, they can learn what they need to do to help you achieve sobriety.


Inpatient care is more costly than outpatient detoxification. If you’re paying for detox out of pocket, it’s ideal you opt for outpatient care. You won’t have to spend on accommodation, feeding, and other services accompanying inpatient detox.

It allows you to perform other responsibilities

The most significant benefit of this type of medical detox program is its flexibility and convenience. While participating in an outpatient detoxification program, you can continue with your daily activities. With outpatient care, you can continue schooling, working, or taking care of other obligations. It helps you balance recovery with your family and job.

Cons of Outpatient Detoxification: The Downsides

Outpatient detox is not an ideal fit for every addict struggling with addiction. Here are some drawbacks of this form of detox.

Increased risk of relapse

Since you’re not under 24/7 medical supervision, you may find it difficult to remain clean. In most cases, you can easily access alcohol and drugs. Not to mention, you are likely to be in contact with people who also use it. Whereas in inpatient detox, you can’t hang out or call your drug dealer.

Inconsistent treatment

Another disadvantage is that you can easily miss your appointments. Outpatient detox programs require discipline. Without the requisite discipline, you may miss predetermined schedules and may not complete your detox program. Aside from that, you won’t have the opportunity to speak to your therapist often, like in inpatient detox. For instance, if you’re experiencing intense cravings, you may have to wait for the next meeting before getting help.

Related Article: Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment: Recovery Options

A Quick Look at Inpatient Detoxification

Inpatient detox involves living at the facility throughout the entirety of your detoxification program. It’s for people suffering from life-threatening addiction issues.

Due to the level of care that comes with inpatient detox services, many people assume it’s the best form of therapy.  At the facility, you’re surrounded by medical professionals who can immediately attend to your urgent health needs. Overall, inpatient detox programs are designed to address your mental well-being and provide mechanisms to manage triggers.

Pros of Inpatient Detox: Why Choose Inpatient Care

Inpatient detoxification offers you round-the-clock medical care and monitoring. With this form of detox treatment, it’s easier to manage withdrawal symptoms that may develop during detox:

Patients are free from daily stress

As previously stated, patients must live in the addiction centre till their detox is completed. The unique living conditions are helpful because you won’t have to face the stress of everyday life. It also prevents you from experiencing a relapse.

Inpatient detox is intensive

Although outpatient detox is effective, it’s not as intensive as an inpatient detoxification program. While undergoing inpatient detox treatment, you have more opportunities to participate in rehabilitation activities. For example, you can regularly attend individual and group meetings with your counsellor.

It offers a structured routine

Most addicts have irregular schedules. A sizeable percentage of addicts are active at night and sleep during the day. Considering the personnel at rehab are conscious of this fact, they make it a duty to schedule your day. At the facility, there’s a particular time to take your medication, eat and have meetings.

Cons of Inpatient Detox

It’s not all good with inpatient detoxification. An inpatient detox program may not be the best route to detoxification care, depending on your unique situation.

Inpatient detox is more expensive

Inpatient detox is more expensive than outpatient. If you’re struggling with chronic addiction, it can get costly. It gets worse if you don’t have insurance to cut costs. However, if you do have the financial capacity to afford this form of detox, then it’s worth your money.

Transition period

In truth, people in inpatient detox may be cut off from reality. While under constant care, the chances of relapsing are slim. However, when you return to the real world, all the temptations abruptly exist again.

Then, you have to deal with daily stressors. Adjusting and coping can be difficult at this period. So most times, rehabilitated individuals require a robust support system after their inpatient detox to prevent a relapse.

It halts your daily activities

If you have children, a job or other responsibilities, you’ll have to put them on hold during your stay at rehab. Finding a childcare program and stopping work is quite difficult. For this reason, most patients opt for outpatient detox. But, if you can afford to halt work and put your children in the care of a family member, inpatient detox is an excellent choice.

Detoxification Services: Outpatient vs Inpatient Care

Before you choose, it’s essential to know the difference between outpatient and inpatient detoxification programs. Both detox options are proper treatment procedures. However, you may respond better to one treatment option than the other. To that end, here’s what to expect from each of these detox programs.

Inpatient care services

  • Medical detox process: This process helps you cleanse your body of drugs and alcohol. It offers you a safe way to withdraw from substances under medical supervision.
  • Intensive care: Unlike outpatient detoxification, inpatient provides you with 24/7 intensive care. Some facilities offer luxurious amenities such as therapies, massage, spa treatments, gourmet food, golf, and a pool. Intensive care in inpatient detox centres may include holistic therapies like equine therapy, yoga, and acupuncture.
  • Nutritional, psychiatric, and spiritual services

Outpatient detox services

When you begin outpatient medical detox in Ontario, you’ll receive medical assessment and comprehensive treatment where appropriate. To get the best type of care, below are the services that accompany outpatient detox:

  • Group therapy sessions: It aims to bring together individuals who share similar experiences. Aside from that, it helps people struggling with addiction to heal emotionally. Examples of group therapy include Alcoholic Anonymous.
  • Individual therapy: While detox deals with the cleansing of your body, individual therapy addresses factors beyond physical dependence. It assists patients in understanding the cause of their addiction and sets them on the right path to recovery.
  • 12 step program: This is an active strategy that helps you become affiliated with 12 self-help groups. It provides you with a support structure to reduce your dependence on a substance. By participating in a 12 step program, you’re likely to boost the likelihood of long-term recovery.
  • Family therapy: Family therapy is a kind of psychological counselling that helps loved ones improve their overall wellbeing. Having therapy sessions with your family helps them understand you while assisting you to recover.

Cost: Outpatient vs Inpatient Care

Cost is one crucial determinant when trying to pick between outpatient and inpatient detoxification programs. Outpatient detox covers the specialist’s fee and any therapy that’s a part of the program. In some cases, the price of outpatient detox is inclusive of transportation to the facility. If you’re on outpatient detox and you spend a few days at the facility for supervision, it’ll cost you more.

Inpatient detox pricing covers feeding, housing, and extra facility-based fees. If you opt for luxurious rooms, gourmet meals, and top-notch services, it’ll cost you extra thousand bucks. The cost of outpatient and inpatient detox varies with several factors so ask your medical personnel for more information.

With insurance, you can pay less for both detox programs. Keep in mind that Medicare or Medicaid insurance only covers drug costs. So you may have to pay out of pocket for other services.

Related Article: Proven Treatments For Addiction Detox


When it comes to addiction recovery, receiving help is extremely important. Both outpatient and inpatient detox can help you experience a successful recovery without relapse. So you may wonder, which is best? As it turns out, neither wins. What is best depends on your needs and condition.

Choosing outpatient detox for a chronic addiction is not ideal. But, it may work for some people. That said, sift through your options and pick a detox program that works for you. With the pros and cons of both types of detox, you can make the right decision for recovery.

Here at Medical Detox Ontario, we can also help you decide on the best type of detox program for you. Call 1 (888) 899-9458 today! With a mindset that recovery is a gradual process, we can walk you through it.

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