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Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Posted: September 30, 2020
Updated: October 5, 2020

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are an integral part of the continuum of care for people addicted to drugs and alcohol.

They are one of the most prevalent addiction treatment facilities, second only to regular outpatient settings. IOPs allow you to stay at home. Thus, they help improve your relationships with the family and community. They are ideal for people who:

  • Do not need treatment at an inpatient or residential facility
  • Have received 24-hour care in an inpatient facility and continue to need extended care and support

Most intensive outpatient programs comprise a 3-hour session three times a week. However, some programs may have longer or more sessions. Usually, the intensity of these programs diminishes over time.

These programs offer a range of services, including:

  • Counseling
  • Vocational Training
  • Medical Treatment
  • Monitoring Alcohol and Drug Use
  • Discharge Planning
  • 24-hour Crisis Coverage
  • Support Groups
  • Psychiatric Evaluation
  • Psychotherapy
  • Recreational Activities

Intensive Outpatient Program Defined

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) provide therapy treatments for individuals suffering from certain addictions or disorders. One of its benefits is that patients can go on with their daily lives as normal. They live at home without any need to stay for a certain number of days in a facility.

What Are Intensive Outpatient Programs?

IOPs are a type of time-intensive, in-depth treatment programs. They’re used to address certain dependencies that don’t require constant observation. Some of these include:

  • Addiction
  • Eating Disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorders

IOPs are designed to help patients transition into society after their recovery. Dealing with sobriety can be difficult for many to handle on their own. These programs offer a support system that provides coping strategies in times of relapse.

The recovery process starts with acceptance. That’s the most important step. Then, everything else will fall into place. All it takes is the right type of emotional support and mental care.

Who Benefits From Intensive Outpatient Programs?

Many people greatly benefit from IOPs. They get the treatment they need while carrying out their normal lives.

For many of those recovering from any type of addiction, inpatient care can be difficult. Some have work commitments or family obligations they can’t leave behind.

IOPs are designed for exactly these reasons. It’s the perfect solution for anyone who can’t leave home for a month to get the care they deserve.

The main requirement for IOP patients is that they have a safe home environment. This means having friends and family around to show their love and encouragement.

What to Expect From an Intensive Outpatient Program

IOPs differ from one facility to another. But they all share several main therapy sessions.

individual therapy in substance abuse treatment

Individual Therapy Sessions

One-on-one sessions are usually scheduled for once a week, sometimes more. Individual therapy sessions are also an important part of IOPs.

Their main focus is to delve deeper into an individual’s efforts to stay abstinent. They also provide a safe space for talking about personal matters.


group therapy for drug rehab services

Group Therapy Sessions

Group therapy is the essence of IOPs. They require attending from 10 to 12 hours of group therapy each week. These types of support systems provide a safe environment where everyone shares similar experiences and offers first-hand advice.


complimentary therapy for drug treatment and recovery

Complementary Therapy

Several IOPs offer alternative treatment methods that go hand-in-hand with traditional therapies. They help individuals use nonverbal ways to express themselves. These complementary therapies usually take place in a group setting.

Here are some examples:

  • Art Therapy
  • Adventure Therapy
  • Equine-Assisted Therapy
  • Music Therapy

12-Step Programs

Many IOPs recommend participating in the 12-step program of either Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. Many IOP facilities host these programs on their premises to make them more accessible.

These programs offer a community of peers with similar experiences. This support system is a highly praised part of the recovery process.

A Final Note

Intensive outpatient programs are best known for their personalized, accessible care. They encourage individuals to stay at home and carry on with their daily lives.

IOPs require more time than most typical outpatient programs. Their therapy sessions and complementary treatments help instill encouragement and hope. They’re a great way to stay motivated on the path to recovery.