Rehab vs. VIOP: When to Choose Outpatient Over Residential Addiction Treatment

Every journey to recovery from drug addiction is as individual as the unique circumstances of a person’s addiction itself. There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. That’s why we work with every individual who comes to Sunflower Recovery to build the recovery program that works for them – and that’s why we offer multiple levels of care that you may need or become ready for on your own journey. 

When you’ve already attended residential addiction treatment, you may have the option to continue your treatment with partial hospitalization care that gives you the ability to come and go from Sunflower, or virtual intensive outpatient care. Our virtual intensive outpatient program, also known as VIOP, gives you the opportunity to continue your treatment online– for a few hours a day, a few days a week. 

Each level of care at Sunflower Recovery Center has its unique benefits, and deciding which one is right for you right now depends on various factors. The National Library of Medicine reports that statistics show that intensive outpatient programs are a “critical facet” in helping individuals with addictions step down safely from inpatient settings. In this blog, we'll explore the differences between residential rehab and virtual intensive outpatient treatment and discuss when opting for outpatient treatment may be the more suitable choice.

Here are 6 possible factors for you or your loved one to take into account when you’re ready to talk with a professional about changing care levels: 

Severity of Continuing Symptoms

Residential Rehab: Residential programs are general for individuals struggling with severe addiction issues requiring 24/7 supervision and a controlled environment. This is where you begin to heal and find new ways of being. You should stay in residential treatment until you’re safe from the physical and physiological effects of your drug use, and until you’ve reached the point where you feel like you’ve found a new path.

VIOP: If you or your loved one has come far enough on the path to recovery to feel comfortable and safe maintaining abstinence from your drug of choice without constant supervision, even when you don’t 

Level of Structure Needed

Residential Rehab: Inpatient treatment provides a highly structured environment with a set daily routine, minimizing external influences and triggers. 

IOP: If someone has been in residential treatment and is comfortable enough on their path to recovery that they can structure their own new routine, virtual intensive outpatient therapy allows them to attend treatment sessions and engage in daily responsibilities like work, school, or family commitments.

Support System

Residential Rehab: Ideal for those who need intensive support away from potentially harmful environments, providing a supportive community of peers and professionals.

IOP: Intensive outpatient treatment brings your rehab community to you – but only for a few hours a few days per week, so individuals in the program need to have their own support system too. This system can only be as strong as your home environment. But there’s also proof that intensive outpatient programs help individuals establish local support and recovery networks, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Cost Considerations

Residential Rehab: Since individuals healing in residential programs are spending 24/7 at Sunflower, living expenses like food, board, and constant care make it more costly. 

IOP: Intensive outpatient care may be more easily accessible for folks who have limited resources, since you’re only paying for the hours you spend actively in virtual treatment sessions.

Duration of Treatment

Residential Rehab: Typically involves a 30 to 90-day stay, allowing for immersive and intensive therapy. 

IOP: Sunflower’s virtual programs offer a more extended treatment duration, often spanning several months, allowing individuals to integrate recovery into their daily lives as gradually over time as their needs require.

Responsibility for Daily Life

Residential Rehab: Removes individuals from the stressors and responsibilities of daily life, allowing them to focus solely on recovery.

IOP: Expects individuals to balance treatment with their daily obligations, promoting the development of coping mechanisms in real-life situations.


Ultimately, our goal is to help every individual choose a level of treatment that aligns with your unique circumstances and promotes lasting recovery and a healthier, substance-free life. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or where to go next on your recovery journey, seeking professional advice is crucial. Remember, finding the right balance between residential and outpatient care is a crucial step toward achieving lasting sobriety. 

At Sunflower Recovery Center, we can help tailor a personalized plan that addresses the specific needs and circumstances of every individual. Reach out today if you’re ready to find out what path is right for you and start the journey to a whole new life. 

Treatment at Home vs Traditional Inpatient Treatment