Intensive Outpatient Services: How Do They Work?

Each person who is seeking treatment for substance use disorders is different. When you first enter an addiction treatment program, you will go through an assessment process that’s designed to find the right level of care for your needs. If you don’t need 24-hour monitoring, but you could still use high-level support in your recovery, Intensive outpatient may be your ideal level of care. In many cases, people progress from detox or inpatient services to intensive outpatient treatment.

If you’re in treatment or if you believe you have a substance use disorder, learn more about intensive outpatient programs.

What Is an IOP?

Intensive outpatient (IOP) services refer to a level of care in addiction treatment in which you live at home but attend intensive treatment during the day. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), intensive outpatient treatment is the second level of care in addiction treatment, with four being the highest. Intensive outpatient services fall under the category that’s just under partial hospitalization and involves nine or more hours of treatment each week. More than 20 hours of treatment would qualify as partial hospitalization.

Intensive outpatient treatment is designed to meet the complex needs of people with addiction and co-occurring disorders. For people who have moved to intensive outpatient treatment after going through higher levels of care like inpatient services of detox, IOP serves as a way to reintroduce yourself to everyday life while you continue to have access to professional support. While you start to take on more responsibilities at home, you will continue to go through a variety of therapies, including individual, group, and family therapy. You may also go through behavioral therapy, which is designed to help you change compulsive behaviors, become more engaged in the treatment process, and develop relapse prevention strategies.

What Therapies Are Offered?

The therapies you go through in addiction treatment will be based on your personal needs, but you may go through several therapy options through your time in treatment. Addiction therapies can be broken into two major groups: evidence-based therapy and alternative therapy. At Desert View Recovery, we believe that treatment plans should be grounded in evidence-based options and alternative therapies should be reserved for use as supplementary options.

Evidence-based treatment refers to therapies that have been tested in scientific studies and have shown to be significantly effective. Evidence-based therapies are more likely to work than other unproven therapy options. Evidence-based therapies can also be applied in a variety of treatment settings like 12-step programs, behavioral therapies, and pharmacological therapies.

Alternative therapies are treatment options that have not been proven in scientific studies but are still used in clinical settings. Things like art therapy, yoga, and acupuncture don’t have the scientific backing that evidence-based treatments do, but some people report using them with positive results. Alternative therapies can help some people and, if nothing else, they can increase a person’s engagement with treatment. However, for others, they may be a waste of time, which can cause people to become disillusioned with treatment.

Here are some of the most common addiction treatment options:

Individual Therapy. Addiction treatment involves one on one communication with a primary therapist and with other clinicians. When you first enter a treatment program, you will sit down with your therapist and create a personalized treatment plan with your goals and objectives to help move you toward those goals. You will meet with your therapist at least once a week to discuss your treatment plan and assess whether or not it needs to be changed or adjusted. Though completing your objectives, you may also have help from other on-staff clinicians. If you have specific needs that need to be addressed by a specialist like severe post-traumatic stress, you may be referred to have therapy sessions with a more specialized therapist.

Group Therapy. Making healthy connections with other people is an important component in combating addiction. People who struggle with addiction often go through periods of isolation which can worsen your psychological reliance on drugs. Learning to connect with peers is not only healthy, but it can also build up your support group, which is vital for a long-lasting recovery. Listening to other people’s challenges in addiction recovery can be therapeutic, but it also helps to get outside of your head and focus on someone else. Group therapy sessions are an integral part of many treatment plans. Though some may find them uncomfortable at first, they can be extremely helpful throughout treatment.

Family Therapy. Addiction is sometimes referred to as the family disease because of the way it affects the people around you. Issues in substance use disorders are often traced back to family life. Plus, addiction can put a strain on personal finances, marriages, and of course family relationships. In some cases, family members can struggle with codependency issues that can make it difficult for the person with the addiction to get the help they need. Family therapy allows the people in your life to learn more about how they can help you and it can show you how your addiction has affected them. It’s often an essential step in healing relationships that are marred by resentment and strengthens your support system.

Behavioral Therapy. Behavioral therapy is one of the most common therapy options in addiction treatment. Behavioral therapies are designed to help you facilitate behavioral changes and shift your mindset. There are several therapies in this category that are used in addiction treatment including contingency management, community reinforcement, and motivational enhancement. However, cognitive behavioral therapy is the most widely recommended for addiction treatment. It involves addressing the way you cope with stress and high-risk situations. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a necessary tool for developing relapse prevention strategies.

How Long Is an IOP?

The length of time you spend in treatment will be personalized to your individual needs as any other aspect of your treatment plan. As you progress through one level of care, you will move on to the next until you’re ready for complete independence. That being said, the length of time a person spends in therapy seems to have a significant impact on treatment outcomes. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 90 days or more is the ideal amount of time to remain in treatment. However, that doesn’t mean you will spend 90 days in intensive outpatient treatment. Your 90 days can last from your first day in detox to your last day in outpatient treatment. When it comes to how long you spend in each level of care, that can vary depending on your specific progress.

Seeking Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder and you’d like to learn more about treatment, or if you’ve completed a detox program and you’re interested in intensive outpatient treatment, there is help available. To learn more about this level of care and the options that are available to you, speak to an addiction treatment specialist at Desert View Recovery. Call at any time to learn more about the therapy options that might be able to help you achieve lasting abstinence. The first step on the road to recovery may just be a phone call away.

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