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Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive Outpatient Programs

Article Contents

In an outpatient substance abuse treatment program, you can receive care while still living at home. 

However, if you have a moderate-to-severe addiction, a standard outpatient program may not offer the level of care you need. In these cases, you should consider an intensive outpatient program (IOP). 

What Is An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a form of outpatient care that’s more intensive than a standard outpatient program (OP) and less intensive than a partial hospitalization program (PHP). 

IOPs involve at least nine hours of treatment per week, while standard OPs involve under nine hours and PHPs involve about 20 hours. 

In most IOPs, you’ll attend an addiction treatment center three to five days a week, with treatment sessions lasting about three hours. 

When you enter an IOP, a team of behavioral health care providers will design a personalized treatment plan for you.

Plans vary depending on a person’s needs. However, they usually include group therapy, individual therapy, and aftercare planning. 

Group Therapy

Most IOPs center on group therapy. This service teaches you how to achieve and maintain recovery. It also provides a healthy social outlet for people whose previous social experiences often included drug use.

You’ll likely attend multiple types of group therapy, which may include:

  • psychoeducational groups, where you can learn how addiction works and how to recover from it
  • skills-development groups, where you can learn how to cope with stress, how to refuse drugs at social events, and other important skills 
  • support groups, where you can share your experiences with other people recovering from substance use disorders
  • family therapy groups, where you and your family members can learn more about your addiction and how to support your recovery

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy gives you the opportunity to strengthen your mental health in a one-on-one setting and further develop the skills you learn in group therapy. 

In an IOP, most individual therapy sessions occur at least once a week and last between 30 and 50 minutes.

During each session, your therapist can help you:

  • treat anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns as you progress in your recovery
  • address personal issues you’d rather not discuss in group therapy
  • manage your treatment plan

Many therapists in IOPs use a specific type of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It can help you change unhealthy behaviors and develop coping skills to prevent relapse. 

Aftercare Planning

Before you leave an IOP, your therapist, case manager, or social worker can help you develop an aftercare plan. Depending on your needs, your plan may include strategies such as:

  • assistance with housing, employment, or legal matters
  • ongoing therapy
  • ongoing support groups
  • wellness activities like yoga, meditation, exercise, and journaling

In addition, after completing an IOP, many people step down to a standard outpatient program. This type of care can help you strengthen the skills you learned in an IOP as you spend less time in treatment and readjust to “normal” life. 

Benefits Of Intensive Outpatient Treatment

An IOP provides:

  • more flexibility than an inpatient or partial hospitalization program 
  • more affordability than an inpatient or partial hospitalization program
  • more opportunities to involve your family in your recovery than an inpatient or partial hospitalization program 
  • more structured and comprehensive care than a standard outpatient program

Overall, it’s a good option for people who don’t have the time or money for more comprehensive treatment. It’s also effective for those who’ve completed inpatient or partial hospitalization treatment but still need regular care. 

Who Shouldn’t Attend An Intensive Outpatient Program?

If you have a very severe addiction or a co-occurring disorder such as depression or schizophrenia, you’ll likely need 24/7 care and supervision to prevent relapse in the early days of your recovery. Thus, you might want to start with an inpatient program instead of going straight to an IOP. 

Inpatient care is also the best option for people who lack strong support systems or whose home environments encourage drug use.

If you don’t need constant supervision but still want more intensive care than an IOP provides, consider a partial hospitalization program. These programs involve five or six days of treatment per week, with treatment sessions lasting five or six hours. 

If you’re still not sure what type of treatment program you or your loved one needs, contact an addiction treatment specialist. 

Do Intensive Outpatient Programs Provide Medical Detox?

Most people experience withdrawal symptoms when quitting drugs. These symptoms, which can range from mild irritability to intense seizures, may increase the chance of relapse and serious health problems.

That’s why most people start their addiction recovery journeys with medical detoxification, also called detox. During detox, a team of doctors will help you get drugs out of your system and cope with withdrawal symptoms.

Since medical detox programs typically involve 24/7 supervision, they’re not offered by most IOPs. However, the treatment team at an IOP can help you find a detox program to complete before you start intensive outpatient treatment. 

How Much Do Intensive Outpatient Programs Cost?

The cost will vary depending on the program, your treatment plan, and how long you stay in treatment. However, most IOPs cost about $250 to $350 a day.

In many cases, insurance will cover some or all of an IOP. To determine how much you’ll pay for an IOP, contact the addiction treatment center you’re interested in with your insurance information ready. 

To learn more about IOPs and other substance abuse treatment programs, please reach out to a Recovering Champions specialist today.

Written by Recovering Champions Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

American Society of Addiction Medicine - What are the ASAM Levels of Care?
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Chapter 4. Services in Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs
National Center for Biotechnology Information - Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence

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