What Is An Intensive Outpatient Program / IOP?

Intensive outpatient programs, commonly referred to as IOPs, are a highly effective method of treating addiction on an outpatient basis. While the quality of programs range a great deal, the top IOP’s have qualified therapists, group therapy, holistic therapy and in-depth curriculum’s designed to educate, heal and develop a support system for those in early recovery from addiction or alcoholism.

What makes intensive outpatient treatment unique is that clients can live at home during the process and maintain their professional and personal commitments. This article will outline the answers to frequently asked questions about IOPs. Be sure to check out The Summit Wellness Group’s Intensive Outpatient Program and Evening IOP program if you’re in need of help.

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program for Addiction?

IOP Treatment can be extremely effective in substance abuse recovery, but it may not meet all of your needs, or address every aspect of your addiction. Many factors, including time in addiction, type of addiction, mental health needs and outside support systems will need to be considered when choosing the type of treatment that is right for you.

Before you decide on what treatment is best, talk with someone at The Summit Wellness Group who can assess your needs and recommend plans and options that will provide you the clearest path to recovery.

How Long Does IOP Last?

Generally intensive outpatient programs are 3 months long. However, the entire outpatient treatment continuum of care can last 6 months. Most IOP treatment programs ask for 10-30 hours per week, with individual sessions lasting 1-2 hours depending on the type of treatment you receive.

Life goes by quickly, and 90 days can go by in a blink of an eye. Investing 90 days in yourself is one small step in creating a lifetime of recovery from substance abuse. In the end, the type of treatment you receive, the length of time it requires, and intensity and frequency of therapy you opt for will affect the overall time spent in IOP. Remember, you are investing in a lifetime of recovery – every hour spent here will help you for the rest of your life.

What are the Advantages of Intensive Outpatient Programs?

Some of the advantages of intensive outpatient program drug and alcohol treatment centers include:

  • Intensive outpatient programs are extremely flexible. They won’t disrupt your ability to work and you’ll be able to continue to make money and pay your bills.
  • Inpatient programs cost significantly more than the intensive outpatient treatment. By attending a program during the evening, and working during the morning, you’re able to save more money, so more of your paycheck can go toward what your family needs.
  • Feel less alone with therapy from certified counselors while allowing yourself to continue your life with less disruption or the risk of losing your job.
  • Speak with counselors in a one-on-one setting without feeling judged, guilted, or shamed. Work with counselors and therapists individually to learn about various tools and resources that are best-suited for you.
  • Spend time in group settings, allowing you to open up to others who are struggling to overcome alcoholism or alcohol abuse.
  • Find like-minded individuals who offer unabashed support throughout your journey of recovery to sobriety.
  • Discover new hobbies and interests as you eliminate alcohol abuse in your life. Gain motivation and feel joy while getting involved in everyday activities again without the use of alcohol. Rediscover other interests and hobbies that have been put “on the backburner” in your life, providing additional outlets for your energy and time.
  • Enjoy a “safe space” where you are free from judgment, allowing you to openly share your challenges and obstacles with other individuals who are able to personally relate. Feel less alone by communicating and connecting with those who have experience with addiction.s.
  • Learn from others by listening to their stories and relating to their own struggles. Ask questions without feeling harshly judged, allowing you to work through any struggles and issues you face during your journey to a clean and healthy life.

What Are Some of the Disadvantages of Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

Some of the disadvantages of intensive outpatient treatment include:

  • IOP treatment centers do not employ highly specialized doctors and medical staff which may be required in certain cases. This is especially true with acute detox and moderate to serious cases of dual diagnosis mental health disorders.
  • Since those in IOP treatment aren’t monitored 24/7, there is always a risk that those in IOP can be exposed to negative outside influences/triggers when they are not in treatment. Those in the early stages of recovery with strong addictions generally do best when they attend inpatient treatment first.
  • Since you aren’t living at the facility, a stable home living environment is vital. If this is not available, IOP probably isn’t the right option for you.

Can I Detox in an Intensive Outpatient Program?

Detox occurs when the body goes through physical symptoms as a result of stopping drug and alcohol abuse.  Because detox can require very specific medical attention and supervision, IOP facilities do not typically accommodate detox on site.  The Summit Wellness has a wide range of affiliates and partnerships with detox facilities and can recommend detox facilities that can help meet your needs.

By not offering detox facilities on site, IOPs can keep costs down, while ensuring the specific needs of those in withdrawal or detox are overseen by medical professionals.

If you have concerns about withdrawal symptoms and detox, please see your healthcare professional or seek additional advice from accredited and reliable resources.

How Does an IOP Differ From Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient Treatment requires those in treatment to remain onsite at a specific facility 24 hours a day, with a highly structured, regimented and strict routine.  Inpatient facilities provide for all living arrangements including lodging/sleeping accommodations, all meals, medical needs, mental health needs and recreational needs.

Those additional services will dramatically increase the cost of treatment, while restricting the patient in terms of outside influence, growth and opportunities.  IOP Treatment finds an ideal “middle ground” in treatment options, providing intensive therapy and treatment with professionals and others in addiction recovery, while providing the freedom and flexibility to sleep at home in your own bed, work, attend school and church services.

How Do I Know Which IOP to Choose?

Here are the most important considerations for finding an outpatient treatment facility in Georgia:

How Reputable is the IOP Rehab? 

Be sure to Google the organization to see if there have been any awards or accolades – or perhaps any scandals or unsavory accusations. Speak with professionals in the treatment field (particularly those who have been in the industry a long time) to find out if they have any caveats. Online review forums such as Yelp may provide meaningful insight as well, and conversations with former clients (or their family members) can be useful in painting a picture of what sort of treatment experience a potential client may be able to expect.

How Qualified are the Staff Members of the IOP?

Professional credentials of the personnel employed by the IOP provider are among the most reliable metrics of how capable that provider may be.  Ideally a program should have at least one psychiatrist on staff to address any prescription needs the clients may have. Additionally, the majority of groups should be led by Masters Level clinicians (or above).

Is All (or Part) of the Program Covered by Insurance?

Thanks to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), many insurance plans now cover outpatient services, particularly those plans obtained within the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace. It is important to note, however, that in many cases only certain services and durations of care are covered, so it is important to speak with the plan provider prior to enrollment in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on.

How Much Will the IOP Program Work With My Schedule?

One of the best aspects of intensive outpatient programs rehab is that they offer the ability to work around employment, social and domestic obligations; however it is still a good idea to determine the extent of that flexibility and find out if services are provided during evening or weekend time slots. The top IOP’s in the country will have morning, afternoon and evening options available.

Does the Program Offer a Pre-Formulated Recovery Plan with Well-Defined Goals?

Since needs can vary greatly from one individual to another, there will never be a set weekly schedule for all clients to adhere to; however, a legitimate outpatient services provider will devise a client-specific recovery plan consisting of any number of the components of outpatient treatment listed above. Such a plan should also allow for modification in the event that treatment progresses more quickly or slowly than expected, or if unforeseen circumstances arise (such as relapse) or diagnoses are rendered.

Will I Need Aftercare Once I Complete IOP?

In many ways, “graduating” from your IOP treatment is the BEGINNING – not the END – of your road to recovery. Building and maintaining a lifestyle free from drugs and alcohol takes time, effort, willingness and a commitment to recovery.  The professionals at The Summit Wellness Group can help your chart your path to long-term recovery, but here are some important steps in maintaining your sobriety after you have graduated from IOP:

  • Private individual and group therapy which may include counseling, psychotherapy and mental health support from doctors and licensed professionals
  • Regular attendance in 12 step programs, with complete participation including getting a sponsor, completing all 12 steps, and continued application of the skills learned on a daily basis.
  • Remaining in contact with IOP peers who are successfully recovering from substance abuse.
  • Implementing new lifestyle choices which support you with growth and support in your overall well being, including your mental, physical and spiritual health.

Related Reading: What Is Outpatient Drug Rehab?

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