What is Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Addiction?

 In Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs are structured using different modalities and tailored to suit the needs of those addicted to either of these substances. An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is one of the treatment approaches utilized for helping people recover from addiction.

In deciding to recommend this type of treatment, the health professionals conducting evaluation and intake usually consider what type of substance was abused and the length and severity of the addiction. Other factors that affect the decision for IOP treatment are whether the individual underwent medical detox, partial hospitalization, or spent time in an inpatient or residential program.

What is Addiction?

Substance abuse disorder, or addiction, is the compulsive use and abuse of drugs or alcohol without care for the negative effects they cause on physical, mental, and emotional health. Some of the substances involved in drug abuse are illicit drugs, e.g, heroin and prescription drugs such as opioid painkillers, stimulants, or depressants. These substances are highly addictive and frequent use can quickly lead an individual to develop a tolerance.

Long-term addiction is considered a brain disorder which is difficult to combat without clinical treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting. This is because drug and alcohol abuse results in chemical changes in the brain that make the user unable to function without the addictive substance.

What is An Intensive Outpatient Program?

Addiction is a disease that needs to be systematically treated to help the individual successfully recover and stay sober. Intensive outpatient rehab is considered level II addiction treatment. It is a step down from level III residential treatment where the client lives at the rehabilitation facility for the duration of treatment.

IOP treatment services are aimed at helping the patient manage addiction and reduce the risk of relapse. Patients are equipped with necessary tools such as coping skills and occupational skills to help them transition back to a normal life. They also undergo behavioral therapy to treat co-occurring mental health disorders and recondition their thinking and behaviors to help them manage substance use triggers.

Understanding the Structure of IOPs

Intensive outpatient facilities generally offer some core services which are designed to provide continuity in patient care and help the individual transition back to their community. Program services are designed around detox and mental health and are delivered in a structured and supportive environment. Some services typically offered are:

  • Detoxification (to rid the body of the substance)
  • Behavioral therapy (one-on-one or group therapy)
  • Monitoring alcohol or drug use
  • Addiction counseling
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Holistic therapy (e.g., sports or yoga)
  • Medication management
  • 12-step programs
  • Relapse prevention planning
  • 24-hour access to addiction recovery support
  • Referral to community-based sober groups (e.g., alcohol anonymous)

How Long Does Intensive Outpatient Treatment Lasts?

Addition treatment duration varies from person to person based on the level of addiction and the severity of any co-occurring mental health disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorder. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends at least 90 days in addiction recovery. Reports show that the longer a person stays in treatment, the greater their chance of successful recovery and long-term sobriety.

In terms of breaking down the time spent in treatment, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) recommends that patients receive 6-30 hours of therapeutic treatment per week. A patient may attend treatment sessions on an average of 3-4 hours a day for 4-5 days a week. An alternative is to do 2 days or evenings of two 90 minute group sessions done back to back.

The patient could also split the time of attendance into 30 minutes of individual therapy, 90 minutes of family therapy, and 1 hour of skills training. They can attend during the day or at night depending on their schedule. This is just a guide and each rehab program adopts their own approach when allotting time for each area of treatment with an individualized approach in mind.

Benefits of Intensive Outpatient Programs

The primary goal of addiction treatment is to help the patient stop the cycle of addiction through identifying and managing substance abuse triggers. Care is personalized and comprehensive similar to inpatient programs. Those who are committed to an outpatient program may enjoy the flexibility it allows without disrupting their day-to-day life.

The client will continue to live a home throughout the treatment period. This allows them to stay close to family, maintain their occupation, and meet other prior commitments. Another attractive benefit of IOP is affordability. The cost is significantly less than residential treatment and most insurance providers cover outpatient treatment costs.

Who Should Consider Intensive Outpatient Rehab?

Intensive outpatient treatment is generally more suitable and beneficial for persons with mild addiction, such as those who are transitioning from an inpatient program or do not need medically-assisted detox. At this point, they may understand how alcohol or drug abuse affects their lives and may better manage the urge to use.

Persons who need to attend work or care for family members and those who have a strong support system also make good candidates for intensive treatment. The medical and mental health staff will help determine if outpatient treatment is the right approach. Notwithstanding, some persons are unwilling to commit to residential treatment making IOP the alternative form of care.

Getting Treated at AmHealth

The road to an addiction-free life can be a lengthy process but the benefits are hardly doubted. It can involve initial level III or residential treatment followed by a step down to level II intensive outpatient or level I general outpatient treatment. Whichever level of care is needed, the programs are similar in nature and are designed to provide a continuity of care aimed at successful recovery.

At AmHealth, we offer different levels of care to suit the needs of our clients. Our intensive outpatient treatment services are provided in a safe, structured, and compassionate environment by trained medical and mental health professionals. Therapy is designed to provide one continuous journey, particularly in cases where the patient was treated at other facilities before admission to AMHealth. Just give us a call today to find out more about our core services and intake process.

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