Stages of Recovery
Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

Guardian Recovery Network’s intensive outpatient treatment programs are a flexible form of addiction treatment that allows individuals to go to work, attend school, engage in their day-to-day lives and live at home or at sober living while simultaneously participating in a treatment program. Individuals attend treatment 3-5 days a week for 3-5 hours per day. Our IOP locations typically have different time tracks to accommodate different schedules, including a morning track, afternoon track and evening track. Some of our IOP facilities offer demographic-specific groups, such as women’s groups, men’s groups and young adult groups. A client’s duration in this stage of treatment is based on what is deemed clinically appropriate, but IOP typically lasts at least 60 days.

Intensive outpatient treatment often follows a higher level of care, such as medical detox, residential inpatient treatment or partial hospitalization treatment. IOP can, however, be a standalone treatment option in some cases. IOP programs are geared toward learning how to re-integrate into the world-at-large as a newly sober individual. Our IOP programs tackle the root causes and consequences of addiction on multiple levels — emotional, mental, social, physical and spiritual.

Why is Intensive Outpatient Important?

Early recovery is a risky time. Individuals are just learning how to practically apply recovery tools and emotional coping mechanisms in their day-to-day lives. In early recovery, individuals are often faced with temptation, difficult relationships, triggering situations, life responsibilities and the struggle of cleaning up their destructive pasts. They are likely to encounter co-workers with difficult personalities, have confrontation with family members, be in settings that glamorize drinking and experience periods of boredom and idle time. IOP helps individuals get through these challenging times sober.

During intensive outpatient clients are fully supported by their therapist, 12-Step mentor, recovery community and treatment peers. By conquering the rough spots sober, individuals develop self-confidence, self-esteem and personal integrity.

An academic study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, which compiled 12 previous studies for a comprehensive analysis of the effectiveness of IOP treatment programs,  concluded that “IOPs are an important part of the continuum of care for alcohol and drug use disorders”; and that IOPs can be “as effective as inpatient treatment for most individuals seeking care.”

Intensive outpatient programs also give the brain time to heal from addiction. Addiction chemically alters the neural networks of the brain. These neural pathways typically take a minimum of 90 days to re-wire. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), any treatment program shorter than 90 days can be considered ineffective. IOP programs give individuals the support they need as their brain may still be compelling them to drink or use drugs.

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Our Intensive Outpatient Treatment Approach

At Guardian we believe that in order to recover from addiction individuals need to heal holistically. This means addiction needs to be addressed at the physical, emotional, mental, physical and social levels. In order to target each of these areas, our IOP programs incorporate a wide variety of therapeutic methods, recovery tools and holistic practices. Our IOP programs are typically organized into a few primary modules built around particular themes. Combined, these modules create an evidence-based, comprehensive treatment program.

Examples of IOP Treatment Modules:

  • Intensive Therapy

This module focuses on intensive therapy work. Clients participate in group, individual and family therapy. Our groups in this module are often split into demographic-specific groups such as men’s, women’s or young adult groups in order to target specific issues and create environments conducive to vulnerability and healing.

Our professional therapists are highly experienced and trained in a variety of therapeutic methods including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), motivational interviewing, trauma therapy, relapse prevention and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Combined these therapeutic tools give clients a wide range of coping mechanisms for dealing with the root causes and subsequent consequences of addiction. These skills help regulate emotions, decrease impulsivity, improve relationships, reduce stress and heal old wounds.

In this module we also address co-occurring mental health disorders. Mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety and bi-polar disorder, commonly co-occur with addiction. Addiction worsens symptoms of mental health disorders; And mental health disorders often lead to self-medication and addiction. Both need to be addressed if a person stands the best chance at achieving long-term recovery.

Our Drug & Alcohol Treatment Services Include


  • 12-Step Implementation in Daily Life Practice

The 12-Steps are one of the most well-known treatment methodologies for addiction recovery. Why? Because the 12-Steps have been extensively studied and have shown to be a highly effective method for producing long-term sobriety.

According to a comprehensive study conducted by a Stanford School of Medicine researcher and his collaborators, the 12-Steps are the “most effective path to abstinence” currently known. For the study, the Stanford researchers evaluated 35 previously conducted studies involving the work of 145 scientists and the outcomes of 10,080 participants. Combining this collection of research, Keith Humphreys, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and his fellow investigators determined that the 12-Step methodology was nearly always found to be more effective than psychotherapy alone in achieving abstinence.

The 12 Steps are a program of action that hopefully leads to personal transformation. The goal of the 12-Steps is to help an individual change their ideas, attitudes, beliefs and actions in order to become more selfless, loving and sober individuals.

Behind each step is a key principle for living. These principles include: honesty, hope, surrender, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, love, responsibility, discipline, awareness and service. In some of our IOP programs, our clients have the opportunity to actively work the 12-Steps with a 12-Step mentor and learn to apply their principles to their daily lives.

During this module clients participate in 12-Step workshops, learn to create social connections and build a recovery community, discover the importance of being of service to others, and learn skills to prevent relapse.

  • 12-Step Alternatives

Not all clients resonate with working the 12-Steps. For those clients we offer the opportunity to learn about and participate in other recovery communities such as Rational Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, LifeRing Secular Recovery and SMART Recovery.

  • Health & Wellness

Our health and wellness module focuses on the eight domains of wellness. The eight domains of wellness include occupational, emotional, spiritual, environmental, financial, physical, social, and intellectual wellness. The goal is to seek the highest level of wellness in all eight areas of an individual’s life. If any one area is particularly challenging, it can deeply affect a person’s overall wellness. We teach life skills necessary for improving wellness. Some examples might be nutrition counseling, career coaching, budget balancing, vocational training and social skills.

  • Holistic Practices

In this module we also utilize holistic therapies including breathwork, yoga, reiki (energy healing), acupuncture, mindfulness and meditation. These holistic healing methods increase the mind-body connection, sharpen an individual’s self-awareness, build a spiritual connection and promote inner serenity. These methods are particularly good at reducing stress, decreasing impulsivity, regulating emotions and helping individuals develop a sense of self.

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Perks of our IOP Programs

  • Medication Assisted Treatment Options – Depending on location, our IOP program may be able to offer medication assisted treatment options, such as Suboxone Maintenance, Antabuse and Vivitrol. These medications can greatly decrease the risk of relapse, reduce cravings and prevent relapse.
  • Meals – At some of our IOP locations, clients are offered complimentary meals or snacks.
  • Transportation – At some of our IOP locations we can arrange transportation to and from the IOP facility.
  • Beautiful FacilitiesOur IOP facilities are all newly-remodeled with comfortable lounge spaces, cozy group rooms, modern dining spaces and smoking patios.
  • Alumni Group – We have very active IOP alumni groups that meet regularly for recovery meetings and events. After clients graduate one of our IOP programs, they often return to support new graduates and stay connected to the Guardian community.

Our IOP Treatment Schedule

While each of Guardian’s IOP programs vary, they typically take place 3-5 days a week for 3-5 hours per session. There are typically several different time tracks to accommodate different schedules, including a morning track, afternoon track and evening track. A client’s duration in this stage of treatment is based on what is deemed clinically appropriate, but IOP typically lasts at least 60 days.

Our IOP Locations

Guardian Recovery Network has several IOP locations in multiple states including Florida, Maine, New Hampshire and New Jersey. We are continually expanding our program locations. For a full directory of our IOP programs, click here.

Sober Living

Many of our clients choose to live in a sober residence as they participate in an IOP program. Sober living gives clients added accountability, community, safety and companionship. Sober living can also remove individuals from the distractions, stress and risk factors often associated with living at home. This allows them to focus on their recovery for a time before transitioning back into their normal living accommodations. We have positive relationships with many sober living homes in close proximity to our IOP program locations. If you’d like to be put in contact with one of them, reach out anytime.

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    Benefits of an Intensive Outpatient 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.

    Find Hope Today

    If you or someone you love has been struggling with substance abuse, it is important to seek treatment. Addiction is a progressive illness, meaning that over time, if left untreated, it only gets worse. If you think one of our IOP programs might be a good fit, or you’re not sure, please contact us today. Our Treatment Advisors are compassionate, knowledgeable professionals that can help you determine the best treatment options for you. They will help you craft a strategic plan for recovery. We offer free, no obligation insurance benefit checks and help arrange transportation to our facilities.

    There is no better time to seek sobriety than now. Please contact us today today to press reset and get on the road to recovery.

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