Intensive Outpatient Programs: Your Questions Answered

Addiction is a chronic illness that people can suffer from to varying degrees. When it comes to treating individuals with substance use disorder, everyone has unique needs, making it essential to devise a personalized strategy to achieve long-term sobriety.

It naturally follows that there are different levels of treatment according to the type of addiction illness an individual is dealing with. Intensive outpatient therapy is a treatment program that is generally recommended in the following situations:

  • Moderate addiction illness not requiring medically supervised detox
  • Patients leaving rehab requiring extra support in the early days of recovery

An intensive outpatient program allows patients to remain at home while they receive intensive treatment for addiction. This enables individuals to carry on with their duties and responsibilities at work, school or home, while they get the healing they need.

Here we answer the most common questions asked about intensive outpatient programs to provide a better understanding of what’s involved.

Q: What Sort Of Therapies And Activities Are Involved In an Intensive Outpatient?

IOP services are generally delivered through group therapy, although outpatients are also assigned a dedicated therapist who they will meet with on a regular basis while on a program. IOP group sessions are generally small, with no more than 10 people attending, which allows for focus within a sober environment.

The kinds of areas and topics covered in an intensive outpatient program include the following:

  • PAWS or post-acute withdrawal syndrome
  • Relapse prevention
  • Managing triggers and cravings
  • Understanding the effects of addiction on the brain
  • Individual family counseling and therapy
  • Nutritional education
  • Physical fitness
  • Holistic therapies including meditation and yoga

Q: What Is a “Declining Intensity Program?”

When patients first embark on an IOP, they have daily assignments to help them through the most vulnerable stages of their recovery. As individuals progress as an intensive outpatient, they require less assistance as time passes and they become stronger in their sobriety. A declining intensity program is as it suggests, with treatments and therapies trailing off in intensity as individuals gain strength in their recovery.

Q: Does Intensive Outpatient Therapy Include Detox?

With all forms of addiction treatment, a clinical assessment and evaluation are carried out to determine the best treatment options for the individual. For some, detox may be necessary and if they also require medical supervision, they are likely to be recommended to attend a residential facility for this first and most important step towards recovery.

Q: What Is the Difference Between Inpatient Treatment and Outpatient Treatment?

Inpatient centers require individuals to reside at the facility, whereas an outpatient can remain at home. For some people, residential treatment is the best option for them as perhaps they live in difficult home environments or need to be away from negative influences. However, for others, intensive outpatient treatment offers them a way of incorporating addiction treatment into their daily lives at their own convenience. There may be several reasons why it’s difficult for individuals to attend a residential facility including such things as caregiving responsibilities within the family.

Q: Who Is Eligible for Intensive Outpatient Therapy?

Eligibility for an IOP is determined after the assessment which is generally carried out as part of an addiction treatment program admission process. IOPs are designed for people who are struggling with drugs or alcohol and individuals who are also dealing with a co-existing mental health condition or disorder.

Q: How Long Is an IOP Program?

As with all addiction treatment programs, an IOP should last for as long as the individual needs help. Everyone is different and people cope with major changes in their lives in different ways. Some find it easier to motivate themselves towards sobriety than others and there is also the issue of how well they are supported at home. All these factors come into consideration when determining how long a person is likely to need the extra support an IOP gives them to thrive in recovery.

Q: Do Family Members And Close Friends Also Attend Intensive Outpatient Sessions?

Addiction has widespread consequences that negatively impact people close to the sufferer, making it important to heal all involved parties. Relationships come under significant strain as a result of a person’s drug or alcohol abuse and sometimes the damage done can be hard to overcome. Research shows that when loved ones are all involved in the addiction treatment process, the success rates are much higher.

Q: What Information Is Gathered In a Clinical Assessment?

Before starting any treatment plan, it is important that addiction professionals have a complete picture of the individual’s case history. This assessment generally includes interviews, questionnaires, psycho-social evaluation, urine/breath analysis, etc., and the information obtained is used to devise a treatment plan that addresses the specific needs of the individual.