Research shows that outpatient treatment is as successful as inpatient treatment in the management of alcohol and substance abuse. Outpatient treatment has a number of distinct advantages. It is significantly more cost effective and allows individuals to deal with their problems in their own environment. It also tends to be less stigmatising for patients who may find the inpatient setting quite daunting.
It is important to remember that inpatient and outpatient treatment should not be viewed as one or the other but rather a personal choice and one that should be reflective of need. For example if someone is working and wants to continue with everyday life without creating attention (particularly from their employers) it will likely be difficult to do so whilst receiving inpatient care. Alternatively, if a person is severely dependent on alcohol (i.e. drinking very early in the morning) they may need a period under medical supervision in an inpatient facility to prevent the complications of alcohol withdrawal (which can rarely be fatal). That said the vast majority of alcohol cases can be safely treated as an outpatient.