Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for Addiction and Recovery

Receiving care in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)An intensive outpatient program or IOP consists of regularly scheduled sessions of structured addiction treatment and mental health counseling. Addiction and co-occurring mental health problems have varying levels of care available, to correspond to a gradual ability to navigate life without the desire for drugs and alcohol abuse. The intensive outpatient program for substance abuse is a middle ground between Residential Treatment and Aftercare.

Intensive Outpatient Programs are a step-down level of care for individuals who have completed detox and residential, so they can continue to receive the support of treatment programming while residing without the need for 24-hour supervision. Addiction recovery is a process of change, and the levels of care and support available in treatment allow a person who is struggling to begin to transform themselves from the inside out.

If you know someone who could benefit from help with substance abuse issues or a dual diagnosis, call us today for more information about IOP and the levels of care available.

When is an Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program Appropriate?

An Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program allows for a certain amount of hours of individual and group therapy throughout a week. This is calculated by medical and clinical necessity, which will be determined through evaluation and progress in treatment. Addiction and substance abuse disorders can disrupt many areas of a person’s life and well-being. Substance use itself will change the brain and body’s chemistry, making it nearly impossible, and potentially dangerous for someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol to quit without help. For this reason, many people who struggle with a substance abuse problem benefit from a period of detox and residential or inpatient treatment. Intensive outpatient programming follows these levels of care, so a person participating is not at risk to themselves or others, but will still benefit from the structure and support of the treatment setting. 

Once patients complete a drug detox or alcohol detox, they are typically suggested to complete a comprehensive care program. These programs can include residential rehab treatment or a partial hospitalization program. From there, an intensive outpatient program is a really great step-down program for substance abuse, since patients will have improved through treatment and developed the recovery skills needed to improve the quality of their day-to-day lives. Intensive outpatient programs are also a great method to use in the road to recovery for people with less severe forms of addiction or with responsibilities at home/work.

This gradual step-down method of care for recovering addicts is strongly backed through many studies; showing that with the right support through a strong program, it’s possible to achieve a long-lasting recovery. 

What to Look for in an IOP Treatment Program

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) provide and explain the standards for the various types of treatment and the principles of effective treatment for substance use disorders. As stated by the ASAM, the definition of an IOP is an outpatient program that provides a minimum of nine hours of treatment per week (no maximum) and allows the patient to return home after treatment is underwent. Continuing on, the first standard that an individual should look for in an IOP is that it meets this minimum treatment requirement.

Other crucial factors that are used to define successful treatments include:

  •     Before being placed in any treatment program, the treatment providers must perform a  thorough physical assessment, psychological assessment, and an assessment of the individual’s social conditions, or be able to refer to the results of a recent assessment that has been performed by qualified healthcare professions. This is crucial as it allows mental health professionals to get an accurate understanding of the patient’s condition and needs.
  •     The intensive outpatient program should be based on methods and procedures that have been proven to work and backed by evidence.
  •     There should be a formal and structured treatment approach, and the treatment plan should be developed to fit the unique needs of the patient. For example, treatment for an alcohol use disorder typically follows an overall plan or blueprint. Having said that, each person is different. One of the most vital parts of how successful a treatment is is the way it is tailored to the patient while simultaneously providing a proven to work structure.
  •     There should always be a sense of responsibility held by the treatment provider and mental health professionals working with the patient. The treatment provider should be held accountable for developing the treatment plan and delivering tailored treatment to the client.
  •     Perhaps the most simple one, the treatment should be available for the client. It is not effective to put those in need on waiting lists. The individual should be able to get into the IOP without facing complications, such as having to wait for weeks or months or fulfilling certain requirements. Successful treatment should be readily available for you, always.
  •     The degree of motivation that the individual shows often affects the progress that the person experiences in treatment. However, research has proven that individuals who are forced to attend treatment for substance abuse have similar success rates to those who choose to go into treatment.

Intensive Outpatient Program Services

Intensive outpatient programs provide a variety of services; all that can be tailored to the individual’s program. An intensive outpatient program curriculum is structured on a treatment center’s offerings, expertise, and individual client’s needs. Our services include:

  •       Medical services, including medication management and medication-assisted treatment
  •       Treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions
  •       Individual therapy
  •       Group therapy
  •       Relapse prevention

Benefits of Intensive Outpatient Treatment

The benefits of intensive outpatient treatment for substance abuse have been well established by years and years of research and studies are done. The effectiveness of IOP has been validated in many research studies. Compared to acute care and outpatient care, IOP has quite a few advantages, such as:

  •       Balanced Treatment: Right in-between the commitment of residential or inpatient treatments and the less time-consuming outpatient treatment, IOP is a great medium. Intensive outpatient programs usually cost less than acute care and can even offer higher levels of access to programming than general outpatient treatment.
  •       Access to Medical Services: Physicians, advanced health professionals, and nursing staff provide continuous health needs assessments and medication management in intensive outpatient treatment for substance abuse.
  •       Access to Mental Health Services: IOPs offer ongoing access to mental health providers that make them well suited to addressing mental health conditions. In fact, it is even common for mental health conditions that had been previously unrecognized to be diagnosed during intensive outpatient treatment.
  •       Substantial Therapeutic and Educational Opportunities:  IOPs provide structured services that allow patients to make significant, long-term progress over a fairly short amount of time as compared to intensive treatment programs.

1ST Step’s Intensive Outpatient Program for Substance Abuse

1st Step Behavioral Health’s intensive outpatient program is available for qualifying individuals who are seeking help with substance abuse and co-occurring mental health disorders. Each client will work with a counselor to design an Individual Plan for recovery from initial assessment and throughout treatment. Counseling is provided by our caring and professional staff at the individual and group levels in a number of evidence-based therapies. Various therapies will focus on; stopping substance use and adherence to a recovery plan, relapse prevention, mental health assessments, identity, and social, family, professional or educational dynamics, as well as life skill-building. Our clinicians practice ego-modifying therapy, rational emotive therapy, experiential therapy, role-playing, and PTSD therapy. The cornerstone of the 1st Step’s program is a firm belief that recovering from addiction and dual diagnosis requires an individual to be given an opportunity to participate in the natural healing process of life.

We believe that anyone can benefit from deciding to take on the road to recovery. Times of pain and obstacles can feel overwhelming and uneasy at the moment. Substance abuse not only affects you mentally but physically as well. You may find yourself feeling drained and hopeless, but we are here to tell you that there is hope. The first step is, to be honest with yourself and seek help. Seeking help is a sign of strength and dedication in improving yourself. We encourage you to be honest with us as well about your history of substance use so we can best help you and tailor our treatment for you as such. We offer a variety of therapies that are aimed to target all problem areas when recovering from substance abuse.

Get Help Today

Remember, it does get better. Intensive outpatient treatment is a great way to target substance abuse that’s been proven to work time and time again. With the right support system and treatment, you’ll be on the road to recovery before you know it. Take the first step to recovery today by calling (866) 319-6126.

About the Author: Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.