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Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP): What Is It & Find IOPs Near Me

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What Is Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

Intensive outpatient programs for substance abuse offer care to individuals who struggle with substance use disorders but don’t need constant monitoring.1 According to the 2020 National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, intensive outpatient  programs were offered at 45% of the facilities that participated in the survey, which means they are easily accessible across the nation. The availability of such services is very important in light of the discouraging drug addiction statistics.2 

What to Expect in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

Intensive outpatient programs for alcohol and drug abuse are suitable for recovering individuals who don’t require inpatient or residential care. These patients may be transitioning from inpatient or residential services. They provide treatment lasting at least 9 hours a week, which are usually divided into three 3-hour sessions. The exact course and intensity of treatment is based on the assessment of the patient’s condition.1 

An intensive outpatient program typically includes different types of therapeutic approaches, such as:3

  • Group therapy: There are different types of groups in IOP programs: 
    • Psychoeducational groups educate patients about substance abuse and its effects, relapse prevention, and coping mechanisms. 
    • Skills-development groups teach patients techniques to refuse drugs and alcohol, act assertively, manage stress, and stay sober. 
    • Support groups have members in a similar stage of recovery, who can share their experiences, hope, and concerns. 
    • Interpersonal process groups can be centered around a single issue, like gender issues or criminal behavior, or they can be couples or family therapy sessions.
  • Individual therapy:Individual counseling is usually used in addition to group therapy. It typically tackles the patient’s concerns that stem directly from their substance use disorder, such as maintaining abstinence. It helps the patient adopt effective coping strategies, explore the root causes of their addiction, and maintain sobriety.
  • Psychoeducational programming: These groups involve discussions on different topics that are connected to substance abuse and recovery, like understanding and resisting cravings, dealing with high-risk situations, and maintaining motivation during recovery.
  • Ambulatory detoxification: These programs are suitable for people who aren’t likely to experience severe symptoms of withdrawal. The facilities that provide this type of service need to be able to offer consultations with a physician and have medical staff readily available.
  • Pharmacotherapies: Patients who struggle with alcohol and opioid abuse can benefit from medication-assisted treatment. Intensive outpatient programs offer the service of medication management for people who fit the requirements for it.
  • Monitoring drug and alcohol use: To check if the current treatment plan is effective, IOP facilities conduct regular drug testing. This helps the staff evaluate the patient’s progress.

How Long Does an Intensive Outpatient Treatment Last?

In general, intensive outpatient treatment for alcohol and drug abuse consists of 6 to 30 contact hours a week and it lasts for at least 90 days. It’s then typically followed by outpatient services that provide continuing care. In general, IOP services typically last between 30 and 90 days and offer between 3 and 5 sessions a week. Generally, longer programs coupled with continuing care provide better clinical outcomes.3 

Some factors that may have an impact on the duration of an intensive intensive outpatient program for substance abuse are:3

  • The patient’s individual needs.
  • Whether they have an adequate support system.
  • Mental health.

Does IOP Treat Mental Health?

A lot of the people who attend intensive outpatient programs have a dual diagnosis, which means they struggle with both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, like depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder. They can be suitable for people with disorders of moderate intensity and usually include:3

How Much Does Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) Cost?

There are several factors that influence the cost of intensive outpatient treatment, such as:4

  • The exact services that the center provides.
  • The frequency of the services.
  • The duration of the program.
  • The population that attends the programs, such as veterans, people with a dual diagnosis, or pregnant people.
  • The amenities that the center makes available.

Is Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP) Covered By Insurance?

Intensive outpatient program costs can usually be covered by private or public insurance at least partially. If this type of treatment is considered to be a medical necessity, your insurance is probably going to cover it. You can verify your insurance coverage by contacting your carrier or rehab facility.5 

If a person doesn’t have insurance coverage or their plan can’t cover the cost of their treatment, they can pay for their stay in treatment themselves. Also, they could find help using an alternative, such as:5

How to Find the Best Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) Near Me?

If you’d like to research treatment centers centers that offer the best intensive outpatient program in locations that suit you, you can find your rehab center or online intensive outpatient treatment by using the service.6 Also, feel free to call one of the helplines run by reputable treatment facilities, such as American Addiction Centers. Their admissions navigators will answer your questions about treatment options and their streamlined intake procedures. The AAC team can also check your insurance coverage and discuss the different payment options that may be available to you.

What’s the Difference Between Intensive Outpatient Treatment and Inpatient?

A person who’s attending an intensive outpatient treatment program for alcohol or drug abuse attends counseling sessions and other forms of therapy several times a week but doesn’t stay at the treatment facility. On the other hand, a patient undergoing inpatient treatment stays at the center 24/7 and has constant medical care.7

In general, inpatient treatment often takes place in a hospital setting and it’s suitable for people who have more serious health concerns. IOP services are generally recommended to those who don’t need round-the-clock monitoring.7

What Is the Difference Between Outpatient and Intensive Outpatient Programs?

Standard outpatient treatment is similar to intensive outpatient programs for substance abuse in that it doesn’t require the patient to stay at the facility overnight. However, IOP typically consists of between 3 and 5 sessions weekly and 3 to 6 hours per session, going on for a minimum of 90 days.3 

On the other hand, the duration of standard outpatient services is usually between 45 and 60 days and they include 1 or 2 sessions a week. Also, IOP treatment typically offers a broader scope of services.3

Why Choose an IOP Over Residential Treatment?

To attend an intensive outpatient program, it’s advisable to meet certain requirements, like not needing 24/7 hospital care. It allows you to continue living at home, close to your loved ones, who can provide crucial support during your recovery process. Residential services, which include ongoing supervision at a treatment facility, are a recommended option for treatment seekers who require more medical attention.3 

Some residential treatment centers can offer luxury amenities and comfortable private rooms to aid the patient’s recovery. Once their condition is stabilized, they can take the next step in the continuum of care and join an IOP while others transition into sober living communities.3

How to Choose the Best Intensive Outpatient Program?

To make sure that the treatment plan is suitable for your needs or the needs of a loved one you want to help, there are some factors to consider when choosing the best intensive outpatient program for substance abuse, including:3

  • The location of the facility, which needs to be easy to reach because you’ll be attending therapy several times a week.
  • The rehab center’s certification, which proves that the treatment professionals are qualified to help recovering individuals.
  • The services they provide because these may differ between facilities. For example, having a dual diagnosis means you need an intensive outpatient program that offers extensive psychological care. 
  • Whether the facility is in your health insurance carrier’s network, which helps you cover the cost of treatment.

What Happens After Recovery Treatment?

Patients get the most out of entering an intensive outpatient program if it’s a part of a comprehensive care continuum. Depending on the patient’s needs, an IOP can be either the beginning stage of treatment or the next step after receiving another form of care.3 

For example, if you’re undergoing standard outpatient treatment but require a more in-depth therapeutic approach, you may switch to intensive outpatient treatment. It’s common for patients to go on to continuing community care after completing this type of program.3

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The editorial staff of is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands of pages for accuracy and relevance. Our reviewers consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA, NIDA, and other reputable sources to provide our readers the most accurate content on the web.
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