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Information About Intensive Outpatient Programs

When looking for the right type of a rehabilitation center, the most important thing is to determine whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is a better choice. Understanding the basics of these kinds of addiction treatments can help make the transition into rehab easier.  

There are multiple benefits of participating in an Intensive Outpatient Program. IOP can be a flexible alternative to inpatient treatment when the individual does not need the intensive care and stabilization. It can provide more structure than found in traditional outpatient programs, but is also less restrictive than residential treatment.

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

Intensive Outpatient Program is recommended to those individuals who do not need medically-supervised detox or those who have already completed a residential treatment program and need additional help. This type of treatment offers assessment and primary care services at more affordable prices than inpatient rehab. Individuals who are 18 years old or older and are seeking help from alcohol or substance abuse addiction, can participate in IOP.

IOP is beneficial for patients who suffer from a wide range of clinical conditions, including the following:

  •        Co-occurring substance abuse or chemical dependency issues
  •        Mental health disorders that decrease the individual’s quality of life
  •        A preexisting mental health diagnosis, intensification of mental health symptoms, or a need for increased evaluation and assessment

During IOP, a patient meets with their counselor who will assess their individual situation before the start of the program. IOP varies in length, and some may involve daily 8-hour programs while others may only require 1 to 2 hours of involvement per day.

In an Intensive Outpatient Program, a patient will find the same treatment practices as in inpatient care, including individual and group therapy, support groups, life skills workshops, educational lectures, family sessions, and medication-assisted treatment. Patients and their families should be aware that if the individual suffers from multiple addictions, or is diagnosed with a dual disorder, outpatient care may not be the best choice.

The Benefits of an Intensive Outpatient Program

  • Affordability: participating in an IOP will cost less than staying at a residential facility. Since patients don’t stay at the facility, or rely on it for meals and others amenities, cost of treatment is significantly lower.
  • Able to continue enjoying the comforts of home: instead of staying overnight at a rehabilitation facility, patients continue enjoying the stability and comforts of their home which can be a huge motivation. By staying with their family, going to school, or to work, patients feel they are still part of the community. They also have the chance to implement what they are learning in treatment to their daily life.
  • Be present at school or at work: for many clients, taking off from work or school may not be possible. IOP is the perfect choice in such cases since clients don’t have to stress about losing a whole year at school or losing their income. This offers patients to have a peace of mind knowing they can still provide for their families, improve their education, and remain stable while focusing on recovery.
  • Supportive home environment: participating in IOP gives patients the opportunity to stay close to their families and friends, and maintain ties with their social groups or religious organizations. This can provide them with love, support, and encouragement which can be quite beneficial while in recovery.

Therapies and Activities Involved in The Intensive Outpatient Program

IOPs include a wide range of therapies and activities as part of the individual’s recovery plan. The most common include:

Individual therapy: the patient will work with a therapist during private one-on-one sessions. These sessions can take place weekly, bi-weekly, or as the patient requires. During these sessions, the patient discusses their experiences, addressed concerns, and receives continual support.

Group therapy: group therapy is an important part of IOP. Professionals facilitate the groups which generally take place once a week. Groups usually do not exceed 10 people and cover different areas and topics, including:

  • Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
  • Relapse Prevention Skills
  • Introduction to the 12 Steps
  • Spirituality
  • Managing Urges and Cravings
  • Understanding Addiction
  • Stages of Change
  • Family Education Program

Family therapy: successful treatment often incorporates the family of the patient struggling with addiction. This therapy educates the whole family about what the patient is going through and how they can support them. It a type of treatment that takes place on as-needed basis.

Medication management: this program helps the patient and their doctor make sure that the medications are working to improve the patient’s health. These may be psychotropic medications or substance abuse management medications.

Matrix Model: this therapy treats an addiction to stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Treatment approaches include skills groups, relapse prevention groups, social support groups, drug education, self-help, 12-step programs, and family education groups.


IOP is designed for individuals who don’t need medically-supervised detox but are struggling with problems such as addictions, substance use and abuse, or co-occurring disorders. For those who need detox, IOP is an option once detox is completed.

Eligibility for the IOP is determined by a clinical/medical assessment which is performed at the rehabilitation center. Each patient receive a customized treatment plan that is guided by the initial assessment and follow-up.

Cost and Payment

In order to pay for the cost of treatment, patients and their families can use insurance or finance their treatment. An IOP is more affordable than an inpatient program since it doesn’t provide food or housing. The cost will depend on the patient’s insurance plan and is likely that insurance will offer at least partial coverage. Coverage is available through Medicaid and Medicare as long as the facility accepts the patient’s particular plan. In addition, insurance companies can’t refuse coverage if the patient has a pre-existing condition, such as a substance abuse disorder.

 Generally, weekly costs for an IOP are less than $800, which is drastically less compared to $700+ daily for inpatient care.

For more information please call this Toll Free 24/7 Addiction Treatment Helpline at (844) 439-4765. This is a completely confidential call. If you have health insurance it may cover up to 100% of the treatment cost. So please call now!

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