What To Expect From an Intensive Outpatient Program

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Within the span of a single year, about 107,000 people in the US died due to a drug-involved overdose, setting a tragic record. In 2021, there was about one US overdose death every five minutes. Whether you’re struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, it’s important to seek help right away.

With an intensive outpatient program (IOP), you can discover the help, support, and resources you need for long-term sobriety. What is an IOP treatment program, exactly, and what can you expect from the program? Read on to find out.

After reviewing this guide, you can prepare yourself for the road ahead. Finding the right drug and alcohol program can ensure a healthier, happier future.

Read on to learn more.

What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

First, let’s cover the basics. What is an intensive outpatient program, exactly?

An IOP is a treatment program designed for patients that don’t require around-the-clock supervision or detoxification. These programs can help patients with:

  • A drug or alcohol addiction
  • Eating disorder
  • Depression
  • Other dependencies

About 44% of addiction treatment programs offer IOPs. IOPs help treat nearly 142,000 patients (about 12% of all patients receiving care).

Since patients don’t require constant supervision, they’re able to continue on with their daily lives and routines. Residential treatment programs, on the other hand, require patients to remain on-site. Participants that choose an IOP treatment program, meanwhile, can live at home.

IOPs are often used alongside inpatient programs to help patients adapt back to their normal routines. An outpatient drug and alcohol program can:

  • Provide patients with coping mechanisms and strategies
  • Help patients establish support systems
  • Ensure relapse management

Participants use both life skills, group therapy, and individual therapy sessions to gather the tools and techniques they need to maintain their sobriety.

These programs are considered “intensive” due to the schedule. Patients are required to meet with clinicians and support groups for about 10 hours each week. The drug and alcohol program also offers courses to help patients address the root cause of their addiction.

For example, these courses might cover vocational skills, emotional regulation, trauma education, and relapse prevention.

Patients can choose between programs based on their distinct needs.

The programs are structured to provide patients with a routine and schedule. Meanwhile, patients can still go to work or school while receiving treatment for their addiction.

Intensive outpatient programs usually last between eight and 12 weeks, running three to five days a week. You’ll attend your IOP for about two to five hours each day.

Stages of Addiction Treatment

A drug and alcohol program usually involves several stages of treatment. As part of a continuum of care, these stages often include:

  • Early intervention services
  • Outpatient services
  • Partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient services
  • Inpatient or residential treatment services
  • Medically managed intensive inpatient treatment services

As you can see, intensive outpatient programs are a common part of the treatment process.

IOP vs Residential Treatment

Before choosing an addiction recovery program, it’s important to schedule a consultation session with a professional. They’ll ensure you choose the best option based on your distinct needs. For example, they might help you choose between an IOP or residential treatment.

The main difference between an IOP and inpatient treatment is you’ll remain at the facility overnight if you choose inpatient treatment.

Outpatient programs, on the other hand, provide more freedom.

The levels of support available, as well as the types of treatment you can choose from, might differ based on the facility.

Inpatient facilities usually offer hands-on support for patients who live at the treatment center. You might find inpatient care is ideal if:

  • You need to complete a detox and withdrawal program
  • You’re struggling with severe mental health concerns
  • You have medical concerns
  • You lack support at home

You can schedule a consultation appointment to determine if an IOP or inpatient treatment option best suits your needs.

What to Expect

Only 1.5% (4.2 million people) of Americans ages 12 and up with a substance use disorder received treatment in 2019. About 1.7 million received treatment at an outpatient rehab facility, while 1 million received inpatient treatment.

The care you’ll receive from an intensive outpatient program can vary based on the facility or provider. Usually, these programs include 10 to 12 hours of individual and group therapy weekly. Most patients are also encouraged to participate in a 12-step program like AA or NA.

Sessions usually occur at a therapeutic or medical facility. However, some providers also offer online programs.

Here are a few things to expect as part of your IOP addiction recovery program.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy will give you the chance to address the problems that led to your substance abuse disorder. You can also address situations or roadblocks that have impeded your ability to maintain long-term sobriety.

These sessions will allow you to dig deeper than you might in a group therapy session. You can speak with a professional and address personal matters on a weekly basis as part of your IOP.

You can establish an honest, close relationship based on a foundation of mutual trust with your therapist as part of your treatment plan.

Group Therapy

As the core of most IOPs, group therapy is as effective as individual therapy for addiction treatment.

Group therapy helps patients improve their communication skills. It also encourages socialization. You can find comfort, support, and honesty from people who have gone through similar experiences in the past.

As a result, you can find a safe space to discuss experiences and struggles with people who can empathize with your situation. Group therapy can also encourage patients to discover healthful ways of interacting with people.

These sessions allow group leaders and therapists to teach patients new skills.

Different types of group therapy include:

  • Psychoeducational groups
  • Skills-development groups
  • Family groups
  • Relapse prevention groups
  • Refusal training groups

Some groups are also specialized. For example, some groups are for sexual abuse survivors, veterans, or LGBTQ individuals.

Complementary Therapies

You might consider exploring alternative therapies in addition to your individual or group therapy sessions. For example, some facilities offer:

  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Animal-assisted therapy

These treatment options could help you find nonverbal ways of healing. Most of these complementary therapies are held in group settings.

Support Groups

Your IOP might also encourage you to participate in a drug or alcohol program such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous. These peer groups can help you find support from people who understand what you’ve experienced. They could provide you with tips and resources for maintaining your sobriety.

A 12-step program will also ensure you have structure throughout the recovery process. You can attend these sessions based on your schedule and needs.

Choosing an IOP

Before choosing a treatment program, first make sure treatment is easily accessible. You shouldn’t have to remain on a waiting list to enter the program. Look for an IOP that will ensure you can start right away.

Next, make sure the program is customized based on your distinct needs.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to drug or alcohol recovery. Rather, the program should be tailored based on your situation, needs, or struggles. Take the time to schedule a consultation appointment with a professional to assess your options.

Next, make sure the facility can offer medical treatment as needed.

Choose an IOP that’s based on empirical research, too. Confirm that the facility uses evidence-based treatments.

Determine if the program offers social support, too. Finding a support system could prove essential to relapse prevention. For example, you might choose group therapy or support group sessions.

Ask the provider if they’ll help you develop an aftercare program, too. Your aftercare program can also ensure you maintain long-term sobriety.

Treatment is an ongoing process. Finding the right addiction recovery program can help you live a long, healthy, happy life.

The Benefits

Choosing the right intensive outpatient program can help you achieve long-term sobriety through a customized treatment plan.

Everyone’s situation is different. Finding the right combination of treatment modalities can help you develop a plan based on your needs. For example, you might require:

  • Medical detoxing
  • Evidence-based treatments
  • Holistic wellness options
  • Family therapy
  • Recovery meetings
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Sober living options

Choosing the right IOP can give you access to these resources and more.

Finding the right addiction recovery program will also give you access to a support system. You can speak with people from different walks of life to benefit from their unique perspectives. Learning from their experiences and mistakes can help you find effective ways of maintaining your sobriety.

Choosing an IOP will give you access to all the resources you need under one roof, too. You won’t have to stretch yourself thin looking for help from multiple facilities.

Beginning a treatment program will also help you hold yourself accountable.

Meanwhile, you’ll find it easier to transition back into your routine with an outpatient program.

The Road to Recovery: Find an Intensive Outpatient Program Today

Don’t begin on the road to recovery alone. Instead, consider finding an intensive outpatient program. The right drug and alcohol program will give you access to the resources you need to maintain your sobriety.

Start your sober journey with a drug and alcohol program today.

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