Levels of Care: Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Levels of Care: Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

IOP TreatmentRehabilitation is a marathon, not a sprint. Detox and inpatient programs aren’t the finish line; they’re the first few miles in a journey of life-long recovery. For those dedicated to sobriety, the steps that follow are just as important.

At New Light Medical, we offer a proven step-down regimen that provides outpatient treatment that is best utilized after traditional detox and our Partial Hospitalization Program. With help from IOP treatment, patients can begin the transition back to traditional daily obligations during recovery, making it easier to adjust to work, family, and fun while maintaining a healthier outlook on life.

What Is Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

Intensive outpatient programs, or IOP programs, are therapeutic treatments that often follow detox, inpatient, and partial hospitalization. In an IOP program, those recovering from addiction have the chance to further assimilate into regular daily life. IOP groups meet in the evenings for several hours, helping those in recovery to stay focused on sobriety after work or school. Many opportunities to use drugs, like parties and post-work social outings, commonly occur in the evenings; IOP programs keep recovering users engaged and attentive to the overarching goals of rehabilitation and stay in contact with their accountability groups, all while avoiding these triggers.

IOP treatments serve as a follow-up to more intense or time-consuming programs: detox is heavily restricted, inpatient rehabilitation requires residency in a facility, and PHP requires a full-day commitment. IOP offers an opportunity to engage in regular activities while still dedicating a significant portion of time to recovery efforts.

While an IOP program offers a way to begin to embrace a normal life, IOP participants generally are housed in sober or transitional living facilities as opposed to living at home with family or friends.

How Long Is IOP?

How often is IOP treatment?Like many aspects of individualized treatment, there’s no one answer when it comes to duration of rehabilitation programs. While some former substance users may be prepared to transition after a few weeks, others may require the rigidity and structure provided by an intensive program for significantly longer. Many programs last 12 to 16 weeks, giving participants plenty of time to develop routines and habits centered on sobriety.

The length of time you will spend in an IOP setting depends on many things, including substance of choice, duration of addiction, prior treatment attempts, history of relapse, and personal comfort levels. Prior to leaving a partial hospitalization program, patients will be counseled regarding best practices and personal objectives. Together, patients and clinical staff will work to create a happy, healthy path forward.

When IOP treatment draws to an end, patients are encouraged to pursue a traditional outpatient program, even if they make the choice to exit sober living.

What Can I Expect in an IOP Program?

IOP programs meet three times per week in the evening. This allows participants to engage in normal life activities and earn income to support themselves while still dedicating a full 12 hours each week to treatment activities, outside of any AA/NA meetings.

At New Light Medical, the suggested schedule in an IOP program is as follows:

  • 7:00 AM: Waking up and preparing for the day, including hygiene activities.
  • 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM: Participants are expended to use daytime hours to look for a job, go to a job, attend school or volunteer as appropriate. For those without full-time work obligations, AA and NA meetings are also necessary.
  • 5:45 PM: Participants arrive at the facility to meet for a group.
  • 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM: Groups meet on a variety of themes and topics based on the day’s agenda.
  • 9:20 PM: Time at the center concludes; participants return home.
  • 11:00 PM: Lights out.

IOP programs play an integral part in day-to-day life, offering a consistent tether to the importance of sobriety. Without a full commitment to the process, participants are unlikely to see optimal results.

Topics and Treatment in IOP

Three hours of treatment a day, three days a week, may seem excessive to those on the outside, but for those transitioning from a more stringent program, this is adequate time to cover the most important topics for addicts in recovery.

Quote on effectiveness of IOP

IOP sessions are similar to group therapy in many ways, incorporating timely, relevant topics and activities for those working to embrace sobriety, including:

  • Codependent behaviors, like unhealthy romantic and platonic relationships
  • Addiction education, including risks and evolving trends
  • Relapse prevention techniques
  • Self-esteem development
  • Tips for building a sober network
  • Managing finances
  • Mental health issues, including how and where to seek help
  • Trauma
  • Coping skills
  • Grief and loss resources
  • Art therapy techniques
  • Music therapy techniques

The specific topics and principles will vary from one day to the next and largely depend on the needs of the individual participants. For example, if numerous members of an IOP program have experienced recent loss, like the overdose death of a friend, group leaders may dedicate a session to grief management techniques.

In addition to topical points of discussion, addiction counselors may also implement psychotherapeutic techniques to facilitate positive change in group behavior, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and motivational interviewing.

Why IOP Works

As a part of a larger approach to rehabilitation, IOP works because it combines a need for freedom with a consistent focus on recovery. In IOP treatment, recovering addicts can stay connected to the recovery community, creating relationships and connections with others in the same place while slowly integrating back into mainstream society.

IOP is only one small element of a larger whole, serving as an important part of step-down programming. The object of this approach is to scale down slowly while providing a supportive environment for those in recovery. By integrating more freedoms in over time, patients are able to balance life goals with sobriety in a healthy, sustainable way.

It is important to note that IOP programs are not a stand-alone option to get clean and should not be used as such. Those considering treatment should understand that simply entering into an intensive outpatient program isn’t a productive approach to getting sober. Traditionally, IOP treatment programs are a step down from weeks or months spent in a partial hospitalization program, offering a tiered approach to progressive wellness.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Prepare for Life After Rehab

Recovery isn’t a process that lasts a day, a week, a month, or even a year. Instead, it’s a lifetime battle, and it’s made easier by proper preparation in the earliest days. Intensive outpatient rehabilitation can be a critical part of this process, especially for those who are committed to a structured approach to maintaining sobriety.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and needs assistance, New Light Medical is here. We are dedicated to supporting substance users every step of the way, from initial detox to outpatient programs. Please contact us today to speak with a member of our intake team and explore how we are able to make a difference.

  • PHP for treating more than addiction – http://mentalhealthcenter.org/treatments/mental-health-php/
  • What makes up Outpatient Treatment – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64094/
  • Effective Treatment – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
  • Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs – Assessing the Evidence – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4152944/