An intensive outpatient program or IOP is a cross between residential and outpatient addiction treatment. An IOP offers a structure and comprehensive level of care compared with a typical outpatient treatment program while also offering more flexibility than residential rehab. Intensive outpatient treatment is recommended in the following cases:
- As rehab following supervised detox
- A primary form of care for substance abuse
- Part of a continuing treatment plan or aftercare
What Makes Intensive Outpatient Therapy Different from Other Treatment Programs
Not everyone is able to afford the financial or time commitment required for residential rehab. Some are high-functioning addicts who have positions of significant responsibility or who would not benefit from being absent from their daily lives. Some people are caregivers looking after the needs of children or elderly relatives, while others are concerned about having to explain their absence to those who may not be aware of there being a problem.
Those who are unable to attend rehab have the challenge of remaining in an environment they associate with substance abuse. For some people, this challenge proves too great and they are at high risk of relapsing without the support of a therapist. A standard outpatient program is unlikely to give such individuals sufficient support to face the daily stresses that trigger substance abuse and this is when they need the extra help of intensive outpatient treatment.
An intensive outpatient program offers individuals the chance to receive the level of care they need but without having to reside in a rehab center. Outpatients can schedule therapy sessions for times that work best for them and they will be required to attend meetings several days each week for several hours each time.
The types of services offered in a typical intensive outpatient program include the following:
Group counseling: Group therapy is an essential component of most outpatient and residential addiction treatment programs. Through regular sessions with therapists and peers, patients can share experiences, improve communication and coping skills and learn stress management techniques. Having access to group support is also considered to be one of the most effective forms of relapse prevention.
Family therapy: An individual with addiction illness is not the only person to have suffered the consequences of their negative behaviors. Intensive outpatient therapy brings families together in a therapeutic environment to enable them to work through issues as a unit, supporting their addicted loved on as they work towards sobriety.
Individual therapy: Intensive outpatient programs include a significant element of individual therapy that has the goal of identifying the root causes of addictive behavior. Patients are generally assigned their own therapist on an IOP who often becomes a solid source of support to help individuals face daily challenges that would otherwise lead to them using alcohol or drugs.
Medication management: Medications are often used to treat recovering addicts, particularly if they have a co-existing mental health condition. The medications used to control cravings for substances and block the pleasurable sensations should a person relapse while taking them.
Holistic therapy: An increasing number of IOPs offer holistic therapy as an alternative to the pharmacological approach. Therapies such as meditation, yoga, massage therapy, aromatherapy, and acupuncture provide individuals with an alternative route to sustained sobriety.
Behavioral therapy: Intensive outpatient therapy generally includes an element of behavioral therapy such as CBT which seeks to identify the root causes of addictive behavior and change the negative thought processes driving it.
Who Are the Best Candidates for an IOP?
An intensive outpatient program is not the right choice for everyone seeking treatment for substance abuse. Although it is better to seek some form of treatment rather than not at all, it is important to make the right choice so that the individual gets the positive benefits of care.
Generally speaking, the best candidates for IOPs are individuals who have:
- The support of family and friends
- Stability in the home environment
- A low risk of relapsing
- Good mental and physical health
- Completed primary rehab treatment
Parents are also generally good candidates for IOPs, particularly if they have babies or pre-school children to look after. An IOP allows them to concentrate on healing themselves while remaining at home to carry out their daily duties.
Getting the Treatment That Best Fits Your Lifestyle
Being a sufferer of addiction does not mean that individuals have to be kept separate from society until they have recovered from the condition. In recent years, there have been numerous advances made in the field of addiction and it is now an established fact that people flourish more in rehab when they feel comfortable with the demands of their treatment program.
In many respects, intensive outpatient treatment offers individuals a distinct treatment advantage in that they are able to apply what they learn in weekly sessions to real-life situations and circumstances. At some stage on everyone’s recovery journey they will have to face living life substance-free without therapeutic support and in many respects, an IOP accelerates this process.