If you’ve ever struggled with drug or alcohol abuse — or know someone who has — the suggestion to “get help for drug addiction” has been said in some form. It’s good and solid advice, but these well-intentioned help-urgers may not realize that there are many addiction treatment options out there. In this guide, we’ll break down the different types of rehab programs out there and what factors to consider when making your decision.

Types of Rehab Programs

There are many rehabs and types of rehabs out there. However, rehab programs primarily refer to the level of care being offered, which in turn will largely shape what a patient’s day-to-day experience would look like. 

These programs represent a range from high to low-intensity treatment (more on that later). Choosing one over the other can mean significant differences in the cost of rehab, the length of treatment, and of course, what the experience will be like. However, choosing which rehab program to enroll in isn’t just a personal preference. The decision should be based on the stage of drug addiction and its severity.


Detox is a crucial first step in addiction treatment, although it can also be a standalone service. Its purpose is to help people safely get through withdrawal — something that anyone with a level of physical dependence on a substance will experience — which can sometimes result in life-threatening symptoms. Even in the best cases, withdrawal is pretty unpleasant.

As a result, detoxification programs involve round-the-clock supervision by medical staff, making them one of the most intensive types of rehab programs.  It might be surprising that detox is typically the shortest of the other types of rehab programs. Why? Because withdrawal itself typically only lasts a few days. 

Detox only deals with the physical symptoms of addiction. Once the symptoms have run their course, it does nothing to help with the psychological challenges of dealing with cravings, developing coping mechanisms when encountering triggers, or addressing the root cause of addiction.

Inpatient Programs

Inpatient addiction treatment, also known as residential treatment, is when individuals temporarily reside at a treatment facility, typically for 28 days to several months. These programs offer 24/7 care by medical and mental health professionals so that both a person’s physical symptoms can be addressed, along with recovering from what is, ultimately, a type of mental illness.

Inpatient treatment is ideal for individuals with severe addictions or who need a structured and controlled environment to recover. It also has the benefit of removing a recovering person from their old environment that may have caused or contributed to drug use.

The caveat is that this comprehensive form of care is also the most expensive. Costs for inpatient treatment will need to cover the cost of housing and food. However, constant professional support increases the odds of successful addiction recovery and can make inpatient programs a worthwhile investment.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Part inpatient programs are moving down a level in intensity, often called PHPs. These hybrid programs are a mix of inpatient and outpatient programs, providing a structured and intensive level of care, typically with daily treatment sessions but without patients living on-site. 

These programs are suitable for those who require frequent support but don’t need 24-hour supervision. Benefits include flexibility and cost savings by allowing individuals to reside at a place of their choosing, which could be their own home or a sober facility. The additional freedom can lead to an increased risk of relapsing, so this option should be considered with care.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Mostly ready for independence but still want addiction recovery support? Intensive outpatient or IOP is a great option. It offers a higher level of care than standard outpatient programs, with individuals typically attending therapy sessions a few times per week and the occasional counseling, group therapy, or medication management. Intensive outpatient care can make it possible for a person to hold a part-time job and maintain a life outside of rehab. 

Outpatient Programs

Last are the full outpatient programs. These are the most hands-off when it comes to addiction treatment, allowing individuals to live at home while attending therapy sessions and treatment during the day. 

Clinical obligations for outpatient programs are significantly less and may involve counseling or therapy once a week. This option is suitable for those with less severe addictions or for those who have completed inpatient treatment and are in the maintenance phase of recovery. 

If you’re looking for an addiction treatment program but aren’t sure what you want, finding drug rehabs near you and comparing their offerings is a great place to start.