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Intensive Outpatient Program

Intensive outpatient programs are treatment programs used to address addiction and co-occurring disorders for those who do not require detox or 24/7 care.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

A substance abuse intensive outpatient program— or IOP for short— is a step down from the partial hospitalization program (PHP) and a step up from general outpatient services.

Unlike PHP, where patients attend most of the day for 5-7 days a week, patients in intensive outpatient programs attend just a few hours each day several times a week, depending upon needs.

This allows patients to get back to daily functions and activities, such as working more hours, getting involved in support groups, finding a mentor, reconnecting with supportive family members and friends, etc. Being in IOP also provides patients with the opportunity to utilize the coping skills, life skills, and career skills they learned during treatment.

Most intensive outpatient programs involve group therapy led by licensed professionals each day of the week. Individual therapists pool patients once or twice per week. The setup is fairly similar to PHP, except clients will not attend all day and will choose either morning or evening sessions.

Those who benefit from an IOP are doing well in recovery, do not require 24-hour supervision or detoxing, have ample outside support, and are not struggling daily with addiction and mental health issues.

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The Importance of a Strong IOP

There are numerous advantages for intensive outpatient programs. There are stages of treatment for a purpose, and to skip one or another could be unfavorable toward patient’s recovery success. IOPs offer an important step between being at a center all day throughout the week and being independent at home, or sober living, while only receiving general outpatient and aftercare services.

Benefits to choosing an intensive outpatient program:

  • Recovering addicts have more flexibility and independence in IOPs. They can continue to take care of their families and other responsibilities, while receiving support and care from rehab centers.
  • There is a lower cost associated with IOP compared to inpatient programs. Insurance companies and personal bank accounts appreciate it when patients can step down to a lower level of care.
  • Those in IOP are able to get back to work and school full-time, depending on schedules. It’s often difficult for users to leave all responsibilities behind to begin treatment. Being in IOP makes it possible to get back to life and wean off extra treatment support.
  • Recovering users can begin to identify community groups and support while attending IOPs. Outside groups such as AA and NA, as well as other mental health groups, often have individuals who simultaneously attend IOP programs. This is the perfect time to start focusing on aftercare.

A meta-analysis on the outcomes of substance abuse intensive outpatient programs discovered:

Based on the quality of trials, diversity of settings, and consistency of outcomes, the level of evidence for IOP research was considered high. Multiple, randomized trials and naturalistic analyses compared IOPs with inpatient or residential care; these types of services had comparable outcomes. All studies reported substantial reductions in alcohol and drug use between baseline and follow-up, (McCarty et al., 2014).

Intensive outpatient programs are advantageous to anyone in a treatment program.

Treatment Components of IOP

The day-to-day treatment schedule is not as intensive and comprehensive as an inpatient program or a PHP. In IOP, patients will work with an individual therapist, who is likely a case manager, as well as a variety of group therapists. Several types of therapy will be offered.  Clients have a daily schedule that typically consists of three to four hours of treatment.

Since recovering addicts will be back at home or sober living out in the community, their alcohol and drug levels will be monitored on a scheduled or random basis.

Other educational opportunities, such as life and career skills training are offered through IOPs.

Each individual will focus on unique treatment goals and prepare to step down into aftercare.

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    Is an Intensive Outpatient Program For Me?

    Intensive outpatient programs are designed for those who do not need a high level of care. These recovering individuals are almost ready to be back out in the “real world” without the need to attend a treatment center most days of the week.

    Some people have certain obligations that they can’t be away from and inpatient treatment is not appropriate for them. In these cases, PHP or IOP are great options.

    Those seeking an IOP should have a stable and healthy home environment, outside support, attend a 12-step program, and have enjoyed progress at a higher level of care or need a boost from general outpatient support.

    If any of those descriptions sound like you— give us a call to discuss the alternatives to inpatient treatment.

    What to Expect in IOP

    At Arista Recovery, the intensive outpatient program is one of the first steps we offer to clients who have a handle on addictions and started their journey to recovery.

    Those approved for IOP will attend treatment centers for morning or evening sessions. During this time, patients will meet with individuals and group therapists, work alongside other clients to discuss struggles, goals, and aftercare plans, as well as learn new skills. There is power in groups, and many patients benefit from relating to peers in a safe and private environment.

    Discharge meetings occur when it has been determined by a patient’s treatment team that the patient has satisfied treatment goals and are ready for aftercare. IOP typically lasts around 90 days.

    Cost of IOP

    The specific cost of IOP is contingent on insurance coverage and other factors.

    The most influential factors affecting the cost of substance abuse programs are:

    • Types of services offered
    • Intensity of services offered
    • Duration of treatment
    • Locations of treatment centers and amenities provided

    The average cost is between $200 and $300 a day, although these costs may vary.

    Experiencing an intensive outpatient program is well worth the time, effort, and financial investment.

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