“This review found that studies of inpatient treatment and IOP services have yielded results that are consistent and similar; outcome measures of alcohol and drug use and follow-up show reductions in substance use and increases in abstinence, and outcomes do not differ significantly between inpatient and IOP settings.”
~Research Staff, Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence
One of the biggest barriers to seeking treatment for people struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism is the time commitment for that treatment. Many people who need professional help – but who are not yet in a program – say that their family or work obligations make it impossible for them to check into inpatient rehab that can last months.
For those people, one option that is becoming increasingly-popular is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)– outpatient addiction treatment that gives them the flexibility they need to meet their personal obligations.
In other words, they can get help without putting their life on hold.
What is an IOP Program of Recovery?
Intensive outpatient alcohol or drug treatment will combine aspects of other treatment protocols to create an intense but flexible amalgamation. Intensive outpatient therapy is less structured than residential rehab, but it is longer than what is offered at most outpatient rehab centers.
IOPs offer the same services found in other outpatient rehab programs:
- Individual, peer group, and couples/family therapy
- Drug Screens
- Long-term aftercare
Where the chief difference between an IOP and a standard outpatient addiction recovery program is the amount of time that the patient will spend in treatment.
According to the industry standard, IOP clients will have scheduled meetings with medical doctors, mental health professionals, and professional addiction specialists a MINIMUM of nine hours per week, although many facilities can offer 15 hours of service, spread out over 3-5 days. For the sake of flexibility, most facilities offer both day and evening sessions.
That flexibility is what is so attractive to patients in need who can’t get away. But it is the intensity of the IOP that benefits those clients.
What Sort of People Check into Intensive Outpatient Therapy?
IOPs are perfect for those people who can’t be absent from their own life long enough to attend inpatient rehab.
- Single parents –Parents with young children can keep their bond intact, because they don’t need to go away for weeks/months. Also, IOPs eliminate the need for long-term child care.
- Other parents/People with families –By choosing Intensive Outpatient treatment, a person can still be present for their own life. They can:
- Live at home
- Have dinner with their families
- Spend time with the children
- Participate in family activities
Having the daily support of their family has also been proven to be beneficial to the patient. Every day, the person in outpatient addiction recovery can apply and share with their families everything they have learned/accomplished that day.
- People with work conflicts –Many so-called “high functioning” addicts and alcoholics resist going to residential rehab because of their jobs. They are worried that:
- They will hurt their chances for advancement or promotion
- They will be replaced while they’re gone
- Important projects will suffer
- Suffering stigma if it is known that they left for rehab
Participating in intensive outpatient therapy solves those issues, because it allows them to receive treatment largely around any work schedule.
- Students –A person in college would have to drop out in order to attend residential rehab. Outpatient addiction treatment allows them to continue attending classes.
- People who have ALREADY been to residential rehab – Someone who has completed residential treatment and has achieved 30 sober days now needs a professional system of support that is in their local area to help them remain sober. Intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment gives them that needed support.
Is Intensive Outpatient Therapy Effective?
Outpatient rehab centers address the same concerns as residential facilities, so it should not come as a surprise that research indicates that between 50% and 70% of IOP program graduates remain abstinent at follow-up – equivalent to the results of residential settings.
There are four main reasons why intensive outpatient drug rehab is so effective:
- IOP programs provide much-needed structure and require accountability on the part of the participants.
- Program length/intensity can be adjusted based upon the severity of the client’s addiction and their progress during recovery.
- Since they remain at home, clients can practice their newly-learned skills.
- When real-world triggers and temptations arise, the person in recovery can get feedback and guidance from their professional counselor in short order. In a residential setting, clients are insulated.
If you or someone you care about needs help for a substance abuse disorder – alcoholism, prescription medication misuse, or illicit drug addiction – intensive outpatient rehab can be an invaluable option to residential treatment. It IS possible to get the help you need while still being present for your daily life.
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