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Your Guide to Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

Intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs, are becoming more and more common and popular. This is a very effective way to treat drug and alcohol addiction, and people are taking advantage of them because of their flexibility and because they work.

There are a lot of benefits to attending an IOP if you are in need of some form of addiction treatment. This is actually a form of rehab that allows you to continue to live at home, work or attend school. It works well for those who cannot attend an inpatient program, or who need a way to transition out of one.

If you are new to the idea of getting treatment, or you are unfamiliar with the concept of an IOP, getting this information is important. You may find that this is exactly the type of rehab that you have been looking for.

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What is an IOP?

An IOP is a form of drug rehab that allows people to receive a higher level of care on an outpatient basis. They can continue to live at home, or in a sober living facility, and they can still attend treatment.

IOPs are unique because they provide participants with an intensive level of care. It is actually much like the type of treatment that they experience in an inpatient program.

This form of treatment can address all types of addictions, which can include:

As you might imagine, every IOP is different. But, many of these programs last for about twelve weeks. There may be some cases in which a client’s treatment extends for a little bit longer, or it is shortened, depending on their needs.

During the twelve weeks of the program, clients are expected to regularly attend their appointments. A lot of IOPs will run their programs during the evening hours to allow people to work during the day. But there are some who may offer daytime hours as well.

Clients may attend their IOP anywhere between three and five days during the week. The sessions may last around three hours each time. This might seem excessive, but it is a part of what makes intensive outpatient so successful. Clients are able to get a lot of time with staff members to get the help they so desperately need.

Someone who is attending an IOP should receive several different forms of treatment. This should be dictated according to their needs, and a unique treatment plan should be created to address those needs.

Some of the more commonly offered forms of treatment may include:

  • Individual Counseling Sessions: Clients should be meeting regularly with a therapist in a one-on-one environment. The therapist should take the time to talk with them and determine what caused their addiction.
  • Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment: People with addictions frequently suffer from mental health issues as well. These are more commonly known as co-occurring disorders. If a client is diagnosed with a condition such as anxiety or depression, they will receive treatment for it. This is because these types of conditions typically lead to addictions, and the goal is to facilitate recovery.
  • Family Therapy: The families of those suffering from addictions are often the ones who need the most support. Relationships can easily become broken when substance abuse becomes a factor, and families need help to rebuild those important bonds. Family therapy can help with this process, offering support to both the client and the family members.
  • Group Therapy: Group therapy has been shown to be highly effective for anyone receiving substance abuse treatment. It allows clients to support each other and offer encouragement on a wide variety of topics.
  • 12-Step Recovery: While IOPs are not 12-Step programs in and of themselves, these principles are often utilized during recovery. For decades, the 12 Steps have helped millions of people recover from their addictions. This is why so many IOPs feel the need to include them in most clients’ treatment plans.

It is common for people to be extremely concerned about how they will pay for rehab. A lot of people don’t even consider getting this type of help for their addictions because they assume they won’t be able to afford it. We want you to know that this is not the case at all for most individuals.

The cost of your IOP will vary, depending on what your needs are. But if you have health insurance, there is no need for you to be concerned at all. Your health insurance is required by law to provide you with benefits to help cover the cost of addiction treatment. This is all because of The Affordable Care Act, which went into effect in 2010.

There is a chance that your health insurance company will cover the cost of your IOP in full. Of course, this will depend on the type of policy you have and what your benefits are. Many people actually choose to attend intensive outpatient treatment programs because of the fact that they aren’t required to pay anything out of pocket.

If you are curious about what your health insurance will cover for an IOP, it is important to have your benefits verified. This is a simple process that should clarity it for you.

If you do not currently have health insurance, you can easily apply for it online. All you need to do is visit HealthCare.gov and follow the links for your state. Once you are there, you can choose the plan that will be right to fit your needs.


Why Might Someone Choose an Intensive Outpatient Program?

Intensive outpatient programs were designed to allow people to get the help they needed for their addictions with more flexibility. Because the program is offered on an outpatient basis, participants do not need to worry about leaving home for days or weeks at a time. They can feel free to do any of the following:

  • Continue to go to work without having to take time off.
  • Attend high school or college without having to miss any classes.
  • Take care of their families if they have small children at home.
  • Take care of their elderly parents if they are the ones designated to do so.
  • Volunteer at a local charity.
  • Continue to care for any of their other responsibilities.

Also, some people may attend an IOP because they have recently finished an inpatient program. It is very typical for staff to recommend intensive outpatient programs for those leaving 30-day treatment centers. These individuals require a step-down approach so that they can become more acclimated to living their lives without relying on substances.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab for Treating Addictions

There are many differences between inpatient vs. outpatient addiction treatment programs. Both can be exceptional, but both are not always the right option for someone in need of rehab.

For instance, inpatient drug and alcohol rehab tends to be for:

  • People who are new to treatment, and have never gotten any type of help before.
  • People who are unable to continue to live at home because doing so may be dangerous or lead to a relapse.
  • People who need the highest level of care available in order to recover.
  • People with a history of relapsing after multiple attempts at quitting.
  • People who have been using drugs or alcohol for a very long time, and are considered to be high risk.

An outpatient rehab is best for people who:

  • Have a solid support system at home that will help them stay on the path of recovery.
  • Have already gone through an inpatient program and are ready to transition to the next level of care.
  • Have a safe home environment that is not conducive to abusing substances.
  • Are determined to continue to recover.
  • Are able to work, attend school and care for their families.

There is no real way to tell which form of rehab would be best for you because everyone has such different needs. But you should opt for the type of treatment that has been recommended to you, and that you feel comfortable with.


Continuing your care is essential for you if you either have recently finished an inpatient program, or you are about to. Approximately 1 million people were treated at an inpatient facility for drug or alcohol addiction in 2010. Usually, about half of these individuals will suffer from a relapse. The other half will go on to remain abstinent, or resume very low levels of substance abuse.

It is a documented fact that patients who continue to follow up and get help after they finish an inpatient program have better long-term outcomes. They are much more likely to avoid relapsing and they are more likely to live full and productive lives as well.

It simply does not make sense to go from a place in which you have complete and total support to a place where the support may be minimal at best. It is much better to continue to get help and encouragement as you relearn what it is to live your life without being dependent on a substance.

Is Detox Offered on an Outpatient Basis?

Detoxification services generally should never be offered on an outpatient basis. There are certain substances that can cause serious complications during withdrawal, and it is dangerous to detox at home.

Detox should only be done on an inpatient basis with qualified professionals. It generally requires the use of both medical and holistic treatment methods.

Many IOPs offer Vivitrol services. This medication is a drug that can be used to treat opioid and alcohol withdrawal. It works very well, and many people have seen excellent results with it.

How Will I Know if I Need Drug or Alcohol Detox?

When you contact an IOP about your needs, they will talk with you about the type of addiction you have. Generally, you will probably need to go through detox if you are addicted to:

Where Can I Find an IOP Near Me?

It is very easy to find an IOP near you. Here at The Evergreen at Northpoint, we offer this service, and our program is among the best in the state.

We understand the situation you may be facing right now. If you have never sought treatment for your addiction, you may not know where to turn. If you have recently finished an inpatient rehab, you may wonder what the next step should be. Our staff can help to guide you and answer any questions you may have about IOP.

Was our IOP guide helpful for you? Would you like to talk with someone about getting started with our program? Please contact us right away.

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