Inpatient vs. Recovery Residences

Rehab vs. Recovery Residences: Understanding Two of Today’s Treatment Types

These days, experience has taught us that addiction recovery doesn’t necessarily follow a predictable, linear path. It can be as varied as the individuals brave enough to step into the journey, and can include inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, recovery living communities, and more. Today we’ll examine the differences between inpatient rehabilitation (at Choice House, we call this the “90-day primary treatment”) and recovery residences (what we refer to as “structured sober living”).

Primary inpatient rehab treatment

is more restrictive, and likely the best starting point for those who need to detox from drug or alcohol abuse. Rehabilitation centers offer around-the-clock supervision by healthcare professionals such as substance abuse specialists, medical providers, and mental health professionals. The recovery living community environment is designed to remove patients from their previous situations and any associated triggers and then enable them to focus on their physical and emotional health, regaining their sense of self and developing healthier lifestyle habits and coping mechanisms.

Those in inpatient rehabilitation typically have controlled communication with the external world, with limited visits, phone calls, and internet use. Days are structured and often include group and individual therapy, counseling and education related to substances, addiction in general, and healthier lifestyle choices. Meals are prepared by the treatment center staff and served at regular times. Most inpatient rehabilitation stays range from 30 to 90 days. The Choice House primary inpatient treatment program involves a 90-day stay.

Not so long ago, patients who completed rehab were considered “cured” and released to return to their lives. Fortunately, we now understand that a more effective approach to helping someone struggling with addiction involves a more gradual transition after the inpatient stay. Today, many people move out of inpatient rehabilitation and into a recovery residence.

Recovery residences – or sober living homes

Sober homes have some similarities to inpatient rehabilitation. They too likely offer several types of therapy and encourage participants to continue attending 12-step meetings and sustain a focus on building new life skills. They’re also designed to protect residents from situations that might trigger a relapse into substance abuse.

But there are key differences as well. Because recovery residences serve as a transitional stop between inpatient rehab and a return to an individual’s autonomous life, they’re less restrictive in nature, offering more freedom and fewer limitations on each resident’s daily activities. For instance, residents are encouraged to search for housing and/or employment to prepare for their return to an independent lifestyle. Meals are prepared by the residents themselves, who also attend regular house meetings and help with chores and other activities necessary to sustain the residence. One of the main advantages of structured sober living is the level of peer support afforded by housing individuals who are all going through similar experiences and both want to succeed on their own sobriety journey as well as help others to do the same.

Recovery residences also tend to be less restrictive in their duration of stay. At Choice House, our structured sober living recovery treatment requires a minimum 90-day stay, but that duration may be extended as long as someone is still benefitting from the services and support provided.

To learn more about which treatment recovery options might best suit you or someone you care about, please contact Jordan Hamilton – 720-577-4422 or




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