Footprints to Recovery

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Lisa Tomsak, DO

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What Happens in an Intensive Outpatient Program?

An intensive outpatient program, or IOP, is a type of addiction treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. An IOP provides therapy and support at a treatment facility while you live at home or in a sober living residence. IOPs are typically shorter than inpatient programs. They focus on re-integrating you into society and building relapse prevention skills. You’ll receive clinical services, therapy, and recovery support while you manage life in the real world without drugs or alcohol.

Is an IOP Right for Me?

If you’re considering an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for addiction treatment, you may be wondering if it’s the right choice for you. IOPs offer a level of care between outpatient and inpatient treatment. They can be a good option for people who don’t require 24-hour care but need more structure and support than traditional outpatient treatment.

There are several things to consider when deciding if an IOP is right for you:

  • First, consider the severity of your addiction. If you are struggling with a long-term addiction, IOP may not be the best option for you. A residential treatment program will be more appropriate.
  • Second, think about your lifestyle and how much structure you need. IOPs usually require attendance at least three days a week for a few hours, so if you have an unpredictable schedule, you’ll need to see if you can make it work.

If you decide an IOP is right for you, there are a few things to keep in mind as you search for a program:

  • A licensed and accredited program
  • A program with a good reputation
  • Staff qualified and experienced in treating addiction
  • A program that offers a variety of services, such as individual and group therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and relapse prevention education

An intensive outpatient program provides a high level of care but still offers flexibility to continue living at home. An IOP might be right for you if:

  • You finished medical detox and are transitioning to a lower level of care (for example: Your treatment team determines that based on your clinical needs, inpatient treatment is not critical.).
  • You have responsibilities at home or work that you can’t leave behind. An IOP allows you to continue living at home and working, if needed. This makes IOPs an option for people who are the primary caretakers of their families or who can’t take time off work.
  • You don’t need 24/7 care. If you suffer from co-occurring medical or mental health conditions, you may need round-the-clock treatment to get better, especially in early recovery. If that’s the case, an inpatient program may be better for you at this time.
  • You can commit to the schedule and recovery work of the program. You’ll have support from your treatment team, and they’ll help you maximize your time in the program.

In an IOP like the one at Footprints to Recovery, treatment is tailored to your needs. All aspects of your care work together to get you closer to stability in sobriety.

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What Happens in an Intensive Outpatient Program?

An intensive outpatient program is a way for people with substance use disorders to receive treatment without staying in a hospital or residential treatment facility. IOP programs usually meet three to five days per week for three to four hours per day.

IOP programs offer a variety of services, including:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Medication management

Intensive outpatient programs also offer educational programs about mental health disorders and how to manage them. IOP programs provide a way for people to connect with others who are in recovery.

IOP scheduling tends to be flexible. Programs like Footprints to Recovery offer daytime or evening schedules. This flexibility accommodates people with strict work or school schedules. Most IOP services occur within a single treatment facility. You may live at home or in a sober living house.

Typical IOP programming consists of several components:

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Individual Therapy

Individual therapy offers a safe, supportive environment to explore your thoughts and feelings. Your therapist will help you with the issues that matter most to you and your recovery journey. Those could include:

  • Trauma support
  • Family dynamics
  • Self-esteem
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Group Therapy

Group therapy combines education with peer support. You’ll attend groups with clients in similar situations as you. This camaraderie can be invaluable in helping you cope with the early stages of recovery. Group therapy topics include things like:

  • Psychoeducation
  • Social skills training
  • Expressive therapy (art, music, yoga, psychodrama)
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Experiential activities
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Self-esteem and wellness
  • Relapse prevention
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Family Therapy

Addiction is a family disease. Often, loved ones need their own education and support. Family therapy helps loved ones improve communication and strengthen respect for one another. If you’re in a relationship, your therapist may also recommend couples or marital counseling.

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Case Management

Case managers help coordinate your care. A case manager will meet with you to review your struggles and needs. They may connect you with various resources, including:

  • Legal assistance (ex. lawyers and probation officers)
  • Medical support
  • Housing
  • Financial relief
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Aftercare

Aftercare is a crucial part of recovery because it keeps you anchored in the support, motivation, and community you built in treatment. Aftercare can include many things. Usually, it entails alumni support and ongoing sober fun and recreation.

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What Therapies Are Used in an IOP?

Various therapies are used in an intensive outpatient program. They help you with mental health and addiction challenges by teaching you new ways to cope with triggers.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps you change negative thinking patterns and dysfunctional behaviors. CBT can teach you how to control your urges, manage emotions, and avoid addiction triggers.
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) helps you understand and accept your emotions. It’s used in addiction treatment to teach you how to cope with emotions in a healthy way.
  • Family therapy helps loved ones communicate and interact in healthier ways. Family therapy can help families deal with addiction by teaching them how to support their loved ones in recovery while also taking care of themselves.
  • Motivational interviewing (MI) helps people find their own reasons for wanting to change their behavior. MI can help in addiction treatment by teaching you the tools you need to make positive changes in your life.
  • 12-step programs or alternatives to the 12 steps are support groups that help people recovering from addiction. These programs provide safe and supportive environments where you can share your experiences and learn from others.
  • Medication management is a type of therapy that involves working with a doctor to find the best medication treatment for your mental health and addiction challenges. Medication management can provide you with the support you need to stay on track with your medication treatment plan.

How Long Does an IOP Program Last?

The length of an intensive outpatient program varies depending on your needs and the type of therapy used. Most IOP programs last between three and six months. Some IOP programs may be shorter or longer, depending on the treatment program and your specific needs.

IOPs typically meet three to five days per week for three to four hours per day. Some IOP programs may meet more or less often.

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How Long Do I Need To Be In IOP?

An IOP doesn’t usually have a set length of time. Your team will help decide the best course of treatment for you. The timeline may vary based on:

  • The severity of your addiction
  • Previous history of treatment episodes
  • Your participation in and willingness to participate in the program
  • Co-occurring mental health issues, like depression or anxiety
  • Stressors and triggers that could increase the likelihood of relapse after completing treatment

There are many benefits associated with completing long-term treatment. First, you’ll have ongoing support from staff and other clients who are also in recovery. You’ll be around people who value recovery. Accountability and consistency represent some of the core components of sustained change.

Benefits of an Intensive Outpatient Program?

There are many benefits to participating in an intensive outpatient program; for instance:

  • IOPs can help people with addiction problems by teaching them new skills to cope with their problems.
  • IOPs can also help people with mental health problems by teaching them how to manage their emotions and avoid triggers for their addictive behavior.
  • IOPs can help families deal with addiction by teaching them how to support their loved ones in recovery while also taking care of themselves.
  • IOPs provide safe and supportive environments where people can share their experiences and learn from others.

Some of the other benefits of participating in an intensive outpatient program include:

  • Improved mental health
  • Improved physical health
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Increased ability to cope with difficult situations
  • Improved relationships with loved ones

Does Insurance Cover the Costs of IOP Treatment

Insurance may cover some or all of your IOP treatment. Inpatient or residential treatment options are usually covered for one to six weeks, depending on your plan. After a certain amount of time, you may be expected to transfer to an outpatient program, which can include an IOP. Some plans may cover partial hospitalization programs, which means you attend a rigorous program about five days week.

Insurance plans generally expect outpatient care to include:

  • Peer group meetings or 12-step program attendance
  • Therapy (family, individual, or group)
  • Education on the effects of substance or alcohol abuse
  • Medical care

If you’d like help determining your insurance for drug rehab, contact us. An admissions counselor can review your insurance policy, deductible, and co-pay. Click here to verify your insurance with Footprints to Recovery.

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How to Find an Intensive Outpatient Program

When choosing an intensive outpatient program, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • The program’s approach to treatment: Make sure the program uses evidence-based treatments that have been proven effective in treating substance abuse.
  • The program’s length: Most intensive outpatient programs last for up to six weeks, though some may be shorter or longer.
  • The program’s intensity: Intensive outpatient programs can vary in terms of how many hours per week of treatment they provide. Make sure the program you choose will fit into your schedule and that you can commit to the required number of hours.
  • The program’s cost: Some intensive outpatient programs may be covered by insurance, while others may require payment out of pocket. Be sure to ask about the cost of the program before you make your decision.

An intensive outpatient programs can be an effective treatment option for those struggling with substance abuse. If you are considering this type of treatment, ask your doctor or mental health professional for recommendations and then do your research to find a program that is right for you.

Pros and Cons of Inpatient Addiction Treatment vs. IOP

Intensive outpatient programs fit some people’s needs, while other people will thrive in a different level of care.

Pros of Intensive Outpatient Programs

  • An IOP is less expensive than an inpatient program.
  • An IOPs duration is usually less than inpatient treatment.
  • An IOP allows you to continue working or attending school while receiving treatment.
  • You have more freedom and flexibility in an IOP than you do in an inpatient program.

Cons of Intensive Outpatient Programs

  • No access to round-the-clock care and support
  • Continue to face triggers to use and drink outside of treatment whereas you are removed from these triggers in residential treatment
  • Could be hard to schedule around work hours, as sessions are typically around three hours, although many IOPs offer evening and morning options
  • Smaller selection of therapies, whereas residential treatment usually includes holistic therapies and experiential therapies

How Are IOPS Different from Other Programs?

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are different than other levels of care, such as inpatient or outpatient programs. IOPs offer a more intensive treatment experience than outpatient programs, but less intensity than inpatient programs. IOPs are typically the best option for people who do not need 24/7 care or who are transitioning out of a residential or partial hospitalization program.

Inpatient Treatment vs. Intensive Outpatient Treatment

In a residential treatment programs, you live in a treatment center. In an intensive outpatient program, you go to a center for part of the day and then go home or to a recovery home. An IOP is less intensive and more flexible than residential or partial hospitalization programs. You don’t have 24/7 care, and you don’t live in a treatment facility. You go to work or school and attend to home responsibilities while also being accountable for your recovery.

A residential treatment program is 24/7. You attend a full day of treatment and sleep at the treatment center in residences. Intensive outpatient programs usually meet three to five times a week for a few hours at a time.

Intensive outpatient treatment may be a good option if you:

  • Have a job or go to school
  • Have a strong support system at home
  • Are dealing with a less severe addiction
  • Have completed an inpatient program and are transitioning back to life outside of treatment

Inpatient treatment may be a good option if you:

  • Have tried other forms of treatment and haven’t been successful
  • Have a history of relapse
  • Are dealing with a co-occurring mental health disorder
  • Need medical detoxification

Partial Hospitalization Program vs. Intensive Outpatient Treatment

In a partial hospitalization program you spend most of the day at a treatment center and go home or to a sober living residence in the evenings. An intensive outpatient treatment program involves spending most of your time outside of treatment and attending treatment a few hours every day to get help from addiction treatment professionals.

The main difference between these two types of programs is how much time you spend in treatment. With a partial hospitalization program, you are in treatment for most of the day. This can be helpful if you need a lot of support and structure. With an intensive outpatient treatment program, you are only in treatment for a few hours each day. This can be a good option if you need less support than what is offered in a partial hospitalization program. It can also be a good option if you have a job or go to school.

Another difference between these two types of programs is how often you see your doctor or therapist. In a partial hospitalization program, you will see your individual therapist more than in an IOP.

Some clients “step down” into IOP after completing a higher level of outpatient care, like a partial hospitalization program. With this plan, you integrate independence in recovery and responsibilities gradually. If you’re dealing with a milder substance use disorder, you may start recovery directly in an IOP.

Outpatient Programs vs. Intensive Outpatient Programs

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and regular outpatient programs differ in treatment hours and structure and support. Outpatient programs usually meet for one hour a week, three at max. An outpatient program is ideal for people transitioning out of an intensive outpatient program or who have several months of sobriety under their belt. Many outpatient programs only include group therapy. Intensive outpatient programs often offer both individual therapy and group therapy.

What Happens After IOP?

Many people transition to basic outpatient care after IOP. Outpatient is the least intensive level of care. Outpatient programs usually meet one to three hours a week.

Aftercare is essential. Many people in recovery continue long-term individual therapy and support groups years after completing treatment. At Footprints to Recovery we offer comprehensive aftercare planning and a supportive alumni community.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment at Footprints

Program details

Program Specific Groups

  • Psychoeducation
  • Didactic lectures
  • Process-based programming
  • Specialized and culturally specific programming
  • Mutual self-help programming
  • Skills training
  • Expressive therapy (yoga, art, music, psychodrama)
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Community support
  • Experiential programming
  • Nutritional counseling and other wellness initiatives
  • Recreational programming

Are you ready to get help for your addiction? At Footprints to Recovery we have a comprehensive intensive outpatient program, and we’re here to support you! Contact us today to learn more.

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Our admissions team is available 24/7 to listen to your story and help you get started with the next steps.

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