An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a form of substance abuse treatment where people visit a treatment center several days a week for a few hours at a time. An IOP is more time-intensive than most standard outpatient programs. However, unlike an inpatient program, it does not require participants to live at the facility. Though they may offer other services such as individual counseling and employment assistance, IOPs primarily consist of group therapy. Most programs last about 90 days and include drug testing.

How Is Intensive Outpatient Different From Residential?

The most significant difference between an IOP and an inpatient program is that people in an inpatient program live at the facility while receiving their care. Residential programs also offer services and amenities that IOPs do not, such as meals, housing, recreation, and access to medical care.

Inpatient programs are usually a good fit for people who have more severe addictions. Some people in these programs have had multiple relapses and need to be kept away from drugs and alcohol for an extended period. Inpatient facilities are also good options for people who live in home environments that are particularly unstable or triggering or have mental health conditions requiring dual diagnosis treatment. In some cases, people may transition or step down to an IOP after completing an inpatient program. That way, they can ease back into everyday living while still receiving care and building the skills they need to remain sober.

On the other hand, some people may move up to an IOP if standard outpatient interventions are inadequate in promoting their recovery. For example, they may increase the number of groups they attend in the program each week.

Therapies Used in Intensive Outpatient

IOPs use several different types of therapies. The most common include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is based on the idea that thoughts and behaviors are learned and that people can learn new ways of thinking and behaving. People who participate in CBT learn their triggers and acquire skills to deal with these triggers.
  • Motivational Interviewing: During motivational interviewing, a therapist helps a person understand their reluctance to engage in treatment and work through that hesitation. The therapist asks the individual to examine how drugs interfere with their life goals and teach them to take responsibility for developing healthier behaviors.
  • Matrix Model: The Matrix Model draws on several other approaches, including CBT, motivational interviewing, and the 12-Steps. This model focuses on establishing a solid therapist-client relationship, teaching clients how to effectively manage their time, practicing relapse prevention techniques, and engaging in community peer support groups.
  • 12-Step Facilitation: IOPs that incorporate this approach help participants learn the principles of 12-Step programs, start to work the Steps, and attend 12-Step groups in their communities.

What Does the Schedule Look Like?

Most IOPs begin with an assessment of the person’s needs. A therapist then creates an individualized recovery program for the person based on where they are in their recovery process. The person works with the therapist on a schedule for how many days and hours they will attend the program each week. This schedule can be adjusted depending on how the person progresses through the program.

Most programs meet on weekdays and many IOPs have day and evening programs that usually meet for three hours each day. For example, day programs may run from 9 A.M. to noon, and evening programs may run from 6 P.M. to 9 P.M. During that time, participants meet for groups and take breaks in between. Common types of groups found in IOPs include:

  • Relapse prevention
  • Skill-building
  • Codependency support groups
  • Family groups
  • Addiction education
  • Process groups

What Happens Afterwards?

After a person completes an IOP, they will meet with their therapist to determine the next steps. If the person met all their goals in the program, the therapist would usually recommend the person continue with a less intensive level of care. Options may include:

  • Less frequent group therapy sessions in an outpatient program
  • Weekly individual meetings with a therapist
  • Attendance at 12-Step programs
  • Alumni meetings at the IOP

The most important thing to remember is that a person is not “cured” when they complete an IOP. Staying sober requires work and most people who have been addicted to drugs or alcohol need to continue to be involved in ongoing care. Meeting with a therapist or support group helps a person stay motivated, work on relapse prevention skills, and help other people with their sobriety, all of which can help maintain recovery.

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a form of substance abuse treatment. IOPs are more intense than outpatient programs, typically having several three-hour-long sessions a week. However, they are less intense than residential treatment as people do not live at a facility. IOPs use various therapy modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, The Matrix Model, and 12-Step programming. Most IOP programming is done in group therapy and can last up to 90 days. An IOP might be a good fit for someone who does not need the rigorous structure of residential treatment or someone transitioning back into everyday life after an inpatient program. For assistance with transitioning into everyday life, Hired Power is here to help. We utilize a collaborative team approach to help individuals achieve lasting recovery. Our professional team works closely with each client’s existing doctors, therapists, treatment coordinators, interventionists, and other key recovery team members to develop an effective treatment plan based on their unique needs. To learn more, call (714) 559-3919 today.

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