Intensive Outpatient Program

Outpatient treatment sounds good, right? Outpatient rehab settings require recovering addicts to spend several hours per week in an outpatient addiction program. Drug abuse drains the person from the possibility of recovery. But, for some people, traditional outpatient treatment for addiction might not be enough. Some people may need to receive outpatient treatment that is a bit more intense, such as intensive outpatient program treatment.

The treatment process varies on the severity of your case. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for the recovery process. Millions of people struggle with substance abuse and complications with mental health.

Outpatient treatment offers a flexible approach to addiction treatment. At an outpatient treatment program, you have the opportunity to receive care and come back home to your support system. Outpatient treatment is suited for those with mild to moderate cases of addiction. The practical approach of outpatient treatment is to practice healthy coping strategies after care.

An outpatient treatment program is generally more affordable. If you’re considering outpatient treatment, but don’t feel confident in the recovery process, you have additional options. The average length of treatment at an outpatient treatment program is 30 days, but this depends on your recovery timeline.

The benefits of standard outpatient programs include psychotherapy and detoxification (or medication-assisted treatment). Treatment services may vary.

This is when you want to look at a more intense treatment for drug abuse. Behavioral health treatment works as a shield for substance abuse treatment.  Early recovery is attainable through alternative therapies. One such alternative would be intensive outpatient program treatment (IOP). But, what is IOP treatment, what does it treat, and is it the right form of treatment for your situation?

What Is An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

When a longer stay in residential treatment is not possible or necessary, IOPs have long been a way to continue addiction treatment. IOPs also serve as a step-down from intensive treatment that lasts all day or longer, such as inpatient treatment, residential treatment, or partial hospitalization program (PHP) treatment.

Crafting coping strategies enrich your chances for recovery. As a part of a continuing care program, IOPs have proved to be immensely beneficial in the realm of behavioral health. They are direct treatment services for people with substance use disorders or co-occurring conditions who don’t require 24-hour supervision.

IOPs are designed to provide behavioral, psychological, and social support therapies to patients while they continue to live at home. This allows patients to continue to participate in educational, work and family activities while still attending treatment at a facility in the morning or at the end of the day.

What’s the Difference between Residential Treatment and Outpatient Treatment?

Treatment programs operate at 4 levels of care. Residential treatment for substance abuse typically provides inpatient care for recovering individuals in need of long-term treatment.

Residential treatment offers a distraction-free environment to those who do not have a strong enough support system to live at home during the time period that they’re receiving substance abuse treatment. You may consider residential treatment for the structured approach.

The amenities of inpatient programs will vary depending on the location and services offered. Inpatient care offers round-the-clock addiction treatment for those in need of medical support and psychotherapy. The cost is generally more for inpatient facilities, however, payment options for inpatient care are available.

It’s best to check what inpatient treatment offers, especially if substance abuse has affected your mental health. Also, remember that the length of addiction treatment plays into your recovery process. Inpatient treatment can last from 30 to 60, to 90 days.

Compared to residential treatment programs, outpatient treatment programs are shorter and less intensive, yet effective. An intensive outpatient program functions as the middle ground for substance abuse recovery.

Intensive outpatient program treatment is usually specialized and easily accessible. Partial hospitalization programs (or day programs) offer a similar structure to residential treatment programs except that PHP patients get to spend their evenings and nights in their own homes.

What Is Treated In An IOP?

Considering the nature of addiction, behavioral health services are a key to recovery. IOP treatment can be used to treat the following disorders:

  • Bipolar disorder (including mania)
  • Unipolar depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harm
  • Substance use disorders
  • Transitional treatment for patients just released from psychiatric or residential treatment

Contact Harmony Ridge Today!

The first step toward achieving recovery is to reach out to one of the rehabs in WV that can get you on the track to recovery. Our admissions team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Give us a call today!


What Is The Purpose Of An IOP for Substance Abuse?

Many treatment facilities offer IOPs for substance abuse. Such programs are ambulatory services for people with substance use disorders (SUDs) who don’t meet the diagnostic standards for residential or inpatient treatment.

Intensive outpatient program treatment is also appropriate for people who have been discharged from 24-hour care in a residential facility. The treatment process of the continuum of care adapts to the different stages of substance abuse. Therefore, individuals that attend IOP treatment after already receiving residential or inpatient treatment still need more support than the weekly or bi-weekly sessions typical of traditional outpatient programs.

A psychiatric intensive outpatient program is aimed at patients who have primary mental health issues. A dual diagnosis intensive outpatient program is for patients who have difficulties with drug and/or alcohol dependence along with mental health issues.

Participants in IOPs have the chance to use evidence-based therapy to be able to recognize and understand problematic patterns in their lives. Behavioral health services in IOP treatment are also typically evidence-based.

How Long Does IOP for Substance Abuse Treatment Last?

IOP treatment typically offers a minimum of nine hours of service per week, in three, three-hour sessions. It’s recommended to research the treatment center you wish to admit yourself into IOP treatment at.

The length of treatment in IOP is usually three to four months. Lengthier programs may be needed for patients with more serious addictions. When a person completes an intensive outpatient program for addiction, he or she will continue to add outpatient therapy sessions for several more months and up to a year after.

What Services Does An IOP Offer?

There is a set of core services essential to all intensive outpatient programs. These are standard services offered to every patient at a treatment center. Enhanced services such as child care or arranging transportation may be offered at some facilities based on individual needs.

Some of the core services offered by an IOP include:

Group Counseling And Therapy

Groups form the most important part of most intensive outpatient programs. Recent studies have shown that for relapse prevention training, the group therapy method is as effective as one-to-one therapy. Group counseling allows programs to reduce the cost compared to the more expensive individual counseling.

Group Therapy Supports Patients By:

  • It provides a chance for clients to develop better communication skills and socialization experience. This is particularly useful for patients whose socializing has typically revolved around using drugs or alcohol.
  • The group experience creates an environment where patients help, support, and confront one another when necessary.
  • Group therapy helps introduce structure and discipline into the lives of patients whose lives are often chaotic and undisciplined.
  • It provides norms that bolster healthy ways of interacting in a supportive and safe, healing environment that is necessary for recovery.
  • Personal recovery can be enhanced for group members who are further along in their recovery, who can then help other members.
  • Group members can exchange new information, teach new skills, and guide other members as they practice new behaviors.
  • It offers different types of groups throughout treatment to address different skills.

Types Of Groups Are:


These provide a supportive place where patients can learn about SUDs and their consequences. They typically occur early in treatment and are low-key instead of emotionally intense. Relapse training is also provided.

Skills development

These groups provide the opportunity to practice behaviors within the safety net of the treatment setting. Skills development includes drug or alcohol refusal training during which patients act out situations of refusing the offer. Skills development also includes relapse prevention techniques in which patients analyze the triggers and high-risk situations for substance use and ways to avoid them.

Assertiveness training teaches patients the differences between aggressive, assertive, and passive behavior. Patients of assertiveness training are encouraged to practice being assertive.

Stress management helps patients recognize situations that might cause stress. It also helps patients learn healthy techniques to respond to stress. This is because stress can deteriorate a patient’s mental health and chances for recovery.

Support groups combine patients in the same recovery stage, who are working on similar issues. They practice changing negative thinking, tolerance, conflict resolution, and examining how one person’s actions affect the group.

Interpersonal process groups either focus on a single issue of personal importance such as gender, sexual orientation, or sexual abuse. This is because trauma can affect a person’s mental health. Interpersonal process groups may also be families or couples groups that assist patients in learning about the effects of substance use on family members and significant others.

Individual Counseling

In IOP, individual counseling is an important complement to group therapy. Mental health conditions are a common element in substance abuse. However, psychiatric interventions and addiction counseling are suitable for patients with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. This is called a dual diagnosis.

Generally speaking, counseling in IOPs addresses the current problems created by the patient’s substance use disorder and their present efforts to achieve and maintain sobriety. A 30- to 50- minute counseling session is typically scheduled at least weekly during the initial treatment stage. A primary counselor is also assigned to the patient to build a collaborative relationship.

Individual therapy is recognized as a more intimate approach to treat mental illness. It’s vital to develop a relationship with your counselor in individual therapy.

An individual counseling session usually consists of the counselor bringing out the patient’s reactions to group meetings. The counselor might also explore how the patient spent his or her time since the last counseling session. He or she will ask how the patient is feeling, inquire about drugs or alcohol use, and ask if there are any pressing issues.

Mental health issues still bear stigmas. A patient’s mental health can be influential in the recovery process.

The therapist helps the patient analyze his reactions to group topics related to mental health. Together, the therapist and patient will discuss treatment plans and coping strategies to enrich the patient’s mental health. Issues that might be too personal to discuss in group therapy will be examined during individual therapy.

Family Therapy

Family therapy can be offered by certain treatment centers. This form of therapy is where family members participate in therapy alongside the patient to discuss their issues. Family members are key to a functioning support system. Thus, this form of therapy can reveal the negative interactions and codependency within a family.

Psychoeducational Programming

Psychoeducational groups are oriented more towards teaching. They also involve a straight-forward communication of facts. Counselors who implement psychoeducational programming need to be uncommonly knowledgeable about the subject.

These sessions, like recovery support groups, need to elicit discussion that helps the patients relate the topic to personal experiences. Psychoeducational programming group sessions also encourage emotional and behavioral change.

Some Of The Typical Topics Discussed In Psychoeducational Groups Are:

  • Understanding motivation and committing to treatment
  • Determining the seriousness of the problem
  • Conduction self-assessment and setting goals
  • Overcoming barriers
  • Understanding the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain and body
  • Learning about withdrawal symptoms
  • Learning about the stages of recovery
  • Recognizing high-risk situations and triggers
  • Learning strategies for quitting and finding the motivation to stop
  • Understanding cravings and urges
  • Understanding abstinence and the use of prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Learning daily living skills, parenting, and educational skills
  • Understanding relapse and developing relapse plans
  • Rebuilding personal relationships

Pharmacotherapy And Medication Management

Pharmacotherapy is the treatment of a disease (SUD) with drugs. This is a crucial component of effective substance abuse treatment.

Pharmacotherapy itself does not change lifestyles or restore normal functioning, but medications do target the specific and limited aspects of substance use disorders. Medical treatment for substance abuse is geared to alleviate the raw physical symptoms of addiction.

For example, opioid treatment programs typically offer pharmacotherapy for individuals who need to detox from the horrific side effects. Withdrawal symptoms can influence a recovering person’s ability to stay disciplined. Other treatment services may not suit every need of the recovering person.

The programs that require attendance 3 to 5 days a week are perfect for identifying patients that need medication and monitoring compliance.

Pharmacotherapy And Medication Management Services Help In Several Ways:

  • Provides detoxification and relief of withdrawal symptoms
  • Reduces craving and prevent relapse
  • Reduces the medical and public health risks from the use of injection of illicit drugs
  • Relieves the original disorder that may be contributing to a substance use disorder
  • Observes the treatment of some medical conditions associated with substance use disorders

Despite extensive laboratory research and clinical trials, there is no convincing evidence of effective medications for treating dependence on cocaine and other stimulants, marijuana, inhalants, or hallucinogens. Considering the variety of withdrawal symptoms, it’s best to consult with the medical professionals. However, research does support the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment for alcohol and opioid dependence. Medication management aids the recovery process.

Many patients who enter IOP treatment have co-occurring mental disorders. Co-occurring disorders usually require more intensive treatment. Co-occurring disorders affect a large portion of recovering individuals. Those patients with moderate-severity disorders may be treated in programs that are primarily designed for patients with substance use disorders.

These treatment programs will work in coordination with mental health services. Moderate-severity co-occurring disorders include stable mood and anxiety disorders with psychotic features and borderline personality disorder.

Monitoring Drug And Alcohol Use

IOPs include routine monitoring of a patient’s illicit drug and alcohol consumption. This is to decide if the therapy selected has the desired effect. Occasionally, rehab programs rely on the patient’s self-reporting, but most use the objective method of testing specimens.

Monitoring helps clinicians decide the need for treatment adjustments. It also helps families regain trust and helps patients avoid lapses.

Case Management

Case management is a tool for relapse prevention. Services to concentrate on these issues may be split up across several agencies.

It might be difficult to access help without the assistance of a case manager who is knowledgeable about service providers and who is able to help patients contact these services. Case managers help patients prioritize needs that can’t be handled by the IOP, such as mental illness.

Case Management Services Include:

  • Providing a core set of social services that include assessment, monitoring, and advocacy
  • Providing the patient with a single contact person who is responsible for finding necessary resources
  • Responding to the patient’s needs for personal assistance
  • Speaking with providers on behalf of the patient
  • Focusing on immediate ways to meet needs (e.g. clothing, shelter)

12-Step Fellowships in Intensive Outpatient Program Treatment

Twelve-step fellowships are the most common and widely attended support groups. Support groups offer a window into the different journeys of substance abuse. You can learn a bundle and even discover new bonds through support groups.

Participating in a 12-step group such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), or CA (Cocaine Anonymous) is positively associated with both retention in treatment and abstinence. Step groups provide principles of conduct and support for as long as the individual wants to attend.

Relapse prevention is a fundamental part of the 12-step fellowship. Treatment centers will guide you in the marathon of substance abuse treatment. Support groups can even point you towards educational and work opportunities.

Who Benefits From An IOP?

An intensive outpatient program for drug or alcohol addiction can be very successful, especially if the person is a willing participant. IOPs are an important part of the continuum of care for substance use disorder treatment. They are considered as effective as inpatient treatment for most people. Even though there is no cure for substance abuse, that doesn’t mean you are hopeless. A key benefit of intensive outpatient program treatment at our treatment center is the adapted structure.

Since you are inquiring about treatment programs for substance abuse, make the next step, and contact Harmony Ridge Recovery Center. We have a detox program that will prepare you, or someone close to you, for one of our treatment programs.

Our clinicians will develop a treatment plan that is right for you to get life back on track. A substance use dependence doesn’t have to define you or derail your life.