Stages of Recovery
Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

An Intensive Outpatient Program is a form of addiction treatment that takes place for a few hours, a few days a week. An IOP program offers individuals the flexibility of going to work or school while participating in addiction treatment and therapy. An IOP program is usually used as a transition step after an individual goes through a residential inpatient treatment. IOP can, however, be used as a stand-alone treatment in some cases.

At Guardian Recovery Network we offer several comprehensive IOP programs for clients who have either already completed medical detox and inpatient treatment, or who do not necessarily require those higher levels of clinical care. Most IOP programs offer a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, recovery-related group workshops, the development of healthy coping mechanisms and an intense focus on relapse prevention training.

The National Library of Medicine describes the importance of IOP in a recently published study: “Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are ambulatory services for individuals with substance use disorders who do not meet diagnostic criteria for residential or inpatient substance abuse treatment or for those who are discharged from 24-hour care in an inpatient treatment facility and continue to need more support than the weekly or bi-weekly sessions provided in traditional outpatient care,” the study reads. “IOP services offer a minimum of 9 hours of service per week in three, 3-hour sessions; however, some programs provide more sessions per week and/or longer sessions per day, and many programs become less intensive over time. Because services are provided in outpatient settings, the duration may be longer than that required for inpatient services. IOPs allow individuals to remain in their own homes and communities, which may improve their adjustment to community life”

Men and women who have suffered significant consequences at the hands of substance abuse or who have underlying conditions (either mental illnesses or chronic physical issues) will undeniably benefit from attending residential rehab before transitioning to IOP. However, there are some instances in which IOP is effective as a standalone treatment option.

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When is IOP a Stand-Alone Option?

Intensive Outpatient Treatment could be considered an effective stand-alone treatment option if:

  • The person who is seeking treatment has previously been sober for an extended period of time and recently experienced a relapse. In this case, the person will have already undergone inpatient treatment, and will have not yet suffered any serious consequences as a result of the relapse.
  • The person has been struggling with a mild or moderate substance abuse disorder that is largely situational. This means that the addiction does not stem from any serious underlying issues, but instead developed after a particularly unpleasant experience. For example, someone who recently lost a loved one begins to drink excessively, or someone who loses a long-term career turns to prescription painkillers. These substance abuse disorders might be easier to treat because they stem from one specific problem which is both temporary and easily resolved.
  • The person is not suffering from an underlying mental health condition. If a person is struggling with a mental illness like depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, it is wise to first attend a dual-diagnosis inpatient program where that individual can get emotionally stabilized before attempting an IOP program.
  • The person has obligations that absolutely must be met and there are not other options to meet those obligations

Determining whether or not IOP is the right option for you or your loved one might not always be a straightforward process. Fortunately, we are available to help you make the most informed decision possible. Contact us today and we will conduct a brief pre-assessment over the phone which will quickly help our clinical team determine which level of care best suits your specific needs, or the needs of your loved one.

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Benefits of an IOP Program

There are many benefits to IOP, though the specific benefits vary on a person-to-person basis.

Benefits of IOP include:

  • More personal freedom and flexibility – If a person has a career that he or she cannot step away from for months at a time, for example, IOP is likely an ideal treatment option. This level of care allows much more flexibility than inpatient treatment, seeing as the client is able to return home once the day of treatment concludes.
  • Maintaining the ability to support a family/dependents – If a person is the primary caretaker of dependents or is the sole source of income for a family, the flexibility of IOP allows for this person to continue offering support while receiving treatment.
  • A lower treatment cost – Because inpatient treatment includes room and board, covering the cost of an IOP program is generally much more manageable for those who are uninsured and who are unable to pay out-of-pocket. At Guardian Recovery Network we do work closely with most major regional and national health insurance providers in able to make every level of clinical care we provide as accessible as possible.
  • Helping further develop a network of sober supports – IOP is an ideal option for men and women who might not have ample support at home and who are in need of building out their recovery networks. IOP provides a built-in support system, and clients are able to offer one another peer support and encouragement as they learn to communicate in healthy and effective ways and develop meaningful friendships with members of the same sex. All of the IOP programs we provide are gender and age-specific in order to make the entire treatment process as focused as possible.

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What to Look for in an IOP Program

When looking for an IOP program, consider the following:

  • Does the program offer demographic-specific treatment options like gender-specific and age-specific treatment?
  • Is the IOP program located in a region that is rich with recovery-related resources, like meeting houses, individual therapists and sober living homes?
  • Does the program focus on intensive therapeutic intervention and the development of relapse prevention skills?
  • Is the IOP program run by a team of licensed and experienced substance abuse and mental health professionals?
  • Is the program itself licensed and accredited through the state?
  • What additional services does the IOP program offer? For example, vocational training and job placement services, sober living housing placement or resources for continuing education.

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    Guardian Recovery Network IOP Program Locations

    At Guardian Recovery Network we offer several IOP programs in different areas of the country and we are continually adding new programs. Check our full directory here.

    Begin Your Recovery Journey Today

    Choosing the right level of clinical care is extremely important, and it is a process we are readily available to help you with. Contact Guardian Recovery Network today for an over-the-phone pre-assessment, which will help you or your loved one determine whether or not an intensive outpatient program is the best solution for your unique case.

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