March 20, 2019 Felicia Durling

The Fact and Fiction of Choosing an Intensive Outpatient Program

One out of every three adults will experiment with an illegal drug in their lifetime. Of that large number, very few of them will actually become addicted to that drug. However, for those who do develop an addiction, the solution can seem impossible to find.

Whether the addiction involves a legal drug, like alcohol, or a controlled substance, it’s important to find the proper treatment that will allow an addict to recover. However, with so many different treatment options, how can you make the right choice?

Before choosing a treatment solution for yourself or a loved one, make sure to read this guide. We’ll break down the ins and outs of an intensive outpatient program, so you can see if it’s the right solution. Keep reading to get on the road to recovery!

What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

First, the basics: what is this kind of program?

The word “intensive” might sound scary, but for many addicts, it’s actually a good thing.

These programs, also known as IOPs, offer a balance between outpatient treatment and inpatient treatment. They’re best for people who don’t need to go through a potentially dangerous detox. If detox is needed, it’s usually best to opt for the medical supervision of inpatient treatment.

IOPs can also work well for people who have made it through detox, and now need to transition back into their addiction-free lives. With some IOPs, the schedule leaves plenty of room for family time and work.

IOPs might involve meetings several times a week, for several hours at a time. Some programs might meet as many as five to seven days a week, for up to eight hours at a time.

They’re more intensive than other outpatient programs that involve weekly meetings, but more flexible than inpatient rehab.

Benefits of Intensive Outpatient Treatment

IOPs work well for many people, although they aren’t for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that might make you want to choose this program.

Access to Support

Inpatient treatment involves seeking support from the staff and other inpatients at the facility. However, with outpatient treatment, you’re closer to your support network of family and friends at home.

The sense of community is one of the keys to recovery, no matter where you recover. If your connections with friends and family are strong, you might want to consider outpatient treatment so you can benefit the most from those connections.

Maintain a Job

If you need to recover but can’t afford to leave your job for inpatient treatment, an IOP might be right for you.

Some programs require more hours than others, but there are many that will fit well with a regular work schedule. This is also ideal for students who don’t want to interrupt their education.

Sometimes, you might need to take a day or two off to get through the hardest days of recovery. But this is much easier than taking weeks or months off for inpatient rehab.

In fact, keeping your job can help you stay motivated to recover. You’ll have something to apply yourself to, a way to focus on the future, and a valuable distraction from the difficulties of addiction.

Keep a Routine

Other routines besides your regular workday can also help you get through recovery more easily.

Inpatient treatment involves adapting to a new routine and lifestyle. Then, once you leave the program, you’ll need to transition back into life at home. This can trigger stress that makes relapse more likely.

With an IOP, however, you maintain a greater sense of normalcy. You can keep your nightly playtime with the kids, your workout routine, or whatever it is that makes you feel good.

Save Money

Outpatient programs are cheaper than inpatient programs, since you’re not paying for things like food and housing.

You can save thousands, or even tens of thousands, of dollars by choosing an IOP. This can put professional treatment within reach of people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it.

Drawbacks of Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Are there any reasons why you might not choose an IOP? Let’s take a look at the potential drawbacks of these programs.

Less Privacy

When you’re not tucked away in an inpatient program, it can become harder to keep your struggle with addiction private. However, the staff you work with should be fully committed to maintaining your privacy as much as possible.

No Medical Support

Outpatient treatment isn’t designed to keep you safe from the effects of detox, the way inpatient treatment is. Even if your detox isn’t life-threatening, it can still be difficult to manage the symptoms without round-the-clock medical care.

Possible Exposure to Triggers

If things in your household or community might trigger you to use again, an outpatient program won’t protect you from these factors. You’ll need to navigate these risks on your own during the hours when your program’s not in sessions.

Getting Started with an IOP

Does an IOP sound right for you? If so, let’s take a look at the steps involved in getting started.

First, you’ll do an intake assessment or screening. These questions will help providers understand exactly what you need as a patient.

Next, you’ll participate in the treatment sessions, which might involve a combination of group and individual counseling. The treatment providers will help monitor your substance use, and offer the mental health treatment and support you may need.

The program may also involve opportunities for education, such as life skills training. And even when you’re not in a session, you’ll have access to support throughout the day.

How to Choose the Best Outpatient Program

Ready to pick an intensive outpatient program?

If you decide that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, as many patients do, don’t hesitate to start your recovery.

We’re here to help. Learn about our IOP and other services here.

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