How Long Does an Intensive Outpatient Program Take?

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It is estimated that over 9% of American adults are currently in recovery from a substance use disorder. One of the first steps toward recovery is attending a rehabilitation program.

Yet, there is not just one kind of addiction recovery program. Rehabilitation centers typically offer inpatient and outpatient services. And within the latter group, you can choose from a regular or intensive outpatient program.

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) can help speed up your recovery. But to do that, you will have to spend more time at your treatment center than you would if you chose a traditional outpatient program.

Are you wondering how long you may have to spend in an intensive outpatient program? Then you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading this guide for the IOP timeline.

What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

An intensive outpatient program or IOP is a substance use disorder treatment program. People who sign up for these programs do not have to live at the treatment center.

Instead, the individual suffering from addiction can live at home. A few days a week, they would visit the rehab center for a few hours of treatment. Like other recovery programs, IOPs offer services like:

  • Group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Drug testing
  • Employment counseling and placement

Outpatient programs, including IOPs, are great options for individuals suffering from more minor addictions. It is also recommended for people with little to no mental health issues and a support system at home.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Programs

Inpatient and outpatient programs are both suited to treat drug and alcohol use disorders. The biggest difference between the two is that inpatient programs require you to live at the rehab facility. Outpatient programs do not.

Inpatient and outpatient programs (whether intensive or not) also differ in the type of services offered. In addition to the services we listed above, inpatient programs can provide:

  • Meals
  • A place to stay
  • Activities
  • Access to nurses and medical care

Unlike outpatient programs, inpatient treatment is reserved for more severe addictions. People suffering from chronic relapse can also benefit from living at an inpatient facility long-term.

Intensive vs. Traditional Outpatient Programs

It is also important to understand the difference between a regular outpatient drug rehab program and an IOP. Both offer similar services and the benefit of being able to live at home during treatment.

But IOPs tend to take up far more of your time than a traditional outpatient program. Exactly how much more time do IOPs require compared to traditional outpatient programs? We are answering this question next.

What Is the Average Outpatient Program Timeline?

Intensive outpatient treatment for substance use disorder typically takes about nine hours per week. These nine hours aare spread across three to five days worth of sessions.

Most intensive outpatient programs last a minimum of 30 days. More typically, individuals suffering from addiction would need to attend IOP sessions for 90 days to up to a year.

In all, that means you would spend 90 hours minimum doing IOP. If you continue with your program for one year, you will spend over 400 total hours in treatment.

Once the IOP ends, that is not the end of your substance abuse treatment program. Many people choose to graduate to a less-intensive form of treatment, including regular outpatient therapy.

By now, you may be wondering: what if my IOP does not work? If an intensive program does not work for you, you can enroll in an inpatient program. That way, you can get the 24/7 care you need.

Pros and Cons of IOPs

Now that you understand a little bit more about IOPs, we want to clarify some of the advantages and disadvantages of this style of program. Keep reading for our list of top IOP pros and cons.

Pro: You Can Live at Home

The number one advantage of any outpatient program is that you do not have to live in an unfamiliar rehab facility. Instead, you can live in your own home or at the home of a family member or friend.

One disclaimer here is that living at home may not be the best choice for some people. This includes people who do not have friends and family they can rely on to help them stay sober. In this case, an inpatient program might be better.

It is also important to identify whether you feel living at home will present temptations to use. If you feel you could be tempted at home and worry about relapse, inpatient residential treatment may be the best option for you.

Con: IOPs Can be Time Consuming

As we mentioned, an intensive outpatient program will take anywhere from 30 to 90 days up to one year to complete. This makes IOPs far more time-consuming than a regular outpatient program.

Regular outpatient programs are highly flexible. People can choose how often they want to attend meetings. And people can also choose how long they want their program to last, whether it is a year or only a few weeks.

IOPs are more time consuming than traditional outpatient programs. But both of these options will take up far less time than an inpatient program. These programs are 24/7, requiring you to live at the facility and stop working for a time.

Pro: A Flexible Schedule

IOPs are far more flexible than inpatient drug and alcohol substance use disorder treatment programs. Treatment typically occurs on weekdays, but you can schedule sessions around your work schedule.

For example, many programs offer evening sessions to accommodate work hours. And in some cases, you may even be able to schedule your treatment on the weekend.

And yes, you did read that right: unlike with inpatient programs, you can still maintain your employment during outpatient treatment. This is one of the biggest draws for many adults seeking addiction treatment.

Con: No Detox Services

Inpatient programs are the only way to access detox services for addiction recovery. If you suffer from any of the following substance use disorders, it is likely that you will require some sort of medical detox services:

  • Prescription opioid addiction
  • Heroin addiction
  • Alcohol addiction
  • Prescription benzodiazapine addiciton

One of the downsides to not living in the treatment facility is that the program can not offer detox services.

If you do find yourself needing detox or withdrawal symptom services during an outpatient program, though, the local emergency room can help.

However, it is always better safe than sorry when it comes to dangerous withdrawal symptoms from the above drugs. In this case, we recommend seeking an inpatient program.

Pro: IOPs Are Affordable

Intensive outpatient programs are far more affordable than inpatient treatment. You do not have to pay for accommodation and meals at the residential rehab facility. After all, you will live at home during treatment.

When it comes to intensive outpatient therapy vs. regular outpatient programs, though, the cost is roughly the same. That is because IOP is simply a sped-up version of outpatient therapy, not an entirely different type of program.

What is more, some insurance companies help cover the cost of an IOP program. This can make seeking treatment for your substance use disorder even more affordable. You have nothing to lose.

What Comes After an IOP?

We already mentioned that you can enroll in a traditional outpatient program after your graduate from your IOP. But what other options do you have?

If your treatment is successful and you want to continue on your journey after your IOP, the following programs are available to you:

  • 12-step meetings
  • NA and AA
  • Community support groups

If you have been recovering from substance use disorder for over a year, an aftercare support group can help. Communing with like-minded and supportive individuals is one of the top ways to get sober and stay sober for life.

Do IOPs Really Work?

Like all treatments for substance abuse disorder, IOPs work in many but not all cases. Addiction is a chronic disease, and relapse is highly common.

Still, studies show that outpatient programs can decrease drug use by as much as 50%–70% more than individuals who do not seek treatment.

Keep in mind that completing the program is one of the best ways to ensure you stay sober for good.

Are You Looking for the Best Outpatient Program in Pompton Lakes, NJ?

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is an outpatient program requiring you to spend more time in treatment than traditional outpatient programs. IOPs are ideal for less severe addictions and people with strong support systems.

Are you searching for ‘IOPs near me?’ At New Life Recovery Center, we offer traditional and intensive outpatient programs, as well as inpatient treatment. Contact us today to learn more about our rehabilitative services.