Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP Program): What is it and What to Expect


If you or someone you love is dealing with a substance abuse problem, it might feel like your options for getting help are limited. You might look at treatment programs and assume that you have two options. You can go to inpatient treatment or deal with it on your own in an outpatient program that isn’t as effective.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Outpatient programs come in all shapes and sizes. And they all come with a degree of success as long as the patient is willing to work the program. But there is one type of outpatient program that might be the best option if inpatient isn’t right for you.

That’s where an IOP program comes in. If you’re looking for alternatives for inpatient treatment, keep reading. We’re going to talk about intensive outpatient treatment programs and what you can expect with them.

What is an Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program?

While a regular outpatient program involves going to see various doctors and therapists throughout the week and returning home each day after your treatment is done, an intensive outpatient treatment program, or an IOP program, is a lot more involved.

Instead of going to a few different counseling sessions and maybe a 12-step meeting, a person in the program would spend an extended amount of time in a facility throughout the day. Some programs are more part-time, a couple of hours a day for 2 or 3 days a week. But others are more involved, asking their participants to be there each day for a set amount of time.

The goals of an IOP program are the same as any other substance abuse recovery program. The program is meant to guide you in learning how to maintain abstinence, change your behavior, attend meetings, address your psychological issues, build a support system, and developing problem-solving skills.

The Matter of Detox in an IOP Program

When many people think of outpatient programs, they assume that they’ll have to detox on their own. While some intensive outpatient programs may offer detox services, most will be able to direct you to a standalone detox facility to help you get through a difficult detox.

But, many people won’t experience intense detox when they stop using drugs. Their program may call for weaning themselves off of the drug slowly to avoid possibly life-threatening results. This means that you can start your treatment right away without going through a detox process.

But, if you have been addicted for a long time, it’s advisable for you to seek out a monitored detox to ensure that you are healthy the entire time.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment vs Traditional Inpatient Treatment

The main difference between an IOP program and inpatient treatment is that at the end of each treatment day, the patient gets to go home when they are in an IOP program. An inpatient program requires the patient to stay for the entire duration of treatment.

Longstanding, severe addictions usually require inpatient treatment to help heal adequately. But, intensive outpatient treatment is significantly lower in cost, more flexible, and often more comfortable. This makes it a more easily accessible form of treatment.

Intensive outpatient treatment can be a good stepping stone between inpatient treatment and being on your own in the real world again.

The Length of the Program

On average, a person in intensive outpatient treatment will attend 9 hours of treatment a day for 3 or 5 days each week. This can change based on the program you’re in or your individual needs, as well.

You could be in an IOP program for as few as 6 hours a week or as many as 30. For the most part, these treatment options last for roughly 3 months.

This 90-day treatment length will change depending on your needs as well. If at the end of the 90-day program you still don’t feel well enough to go down to traditional therapy, you will likely be given the option to extend your treatment length.

It’s even possible for your program to wean you off of therapy a little at a time until you are down to a short session or two a week.

Different Therapies Involved in Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs

In an IOP program, the therapies are similar to that of a traditional inpatient treatment program.

You’ll experience CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy. During this treatment, you will work to relearn how to think and behave by learning your triggers and repeating new methods of dealing with them.

You might take part in group therapy so you and other people dealing with addiction will be able to listen and learn about other experiences and work through them together.

12-step programs are also popular among IOP programs. For many people, working the 12 steps is a way to help get control of addiction and form a community as well.

Life After Intensive Outpatient Treatment

As your treatment comes to a close, you will go to group sessions less and less frequently. Your therapists may try to set you up with traditional outpatient therapists that you can work with on a weekly basis. You may even get phone call check-ups with your therapists and counselors to ensure that you’re doing okay on your own.

When you exit your IOP program, it’s important to remember that there is no cure for addiction. Instead, you have to make active steps every day to make the right choices for a healthy, addiction-free life.

Seek Help Today

IOP programs are just one of the many different drug abuse rehabilitation options out there. But due to its decreased cost over inpatient treatment and its smaller commitment, intensive outpatient therapy is quickly becoming one of the most desired drug abuse treatment options out there.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and you want to get help but aren’t sure where to start, contact us today.

References

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