Everything You Want to Know about IOPs: 15 Questions About Intensive Outpatient Programs

Navigating the recovery world can be challenging. It’s great that there are so many effective treatment options available, but this can make it hard to know which is appropriate for your needs. One of the more flexible solutions is IOP, an outpatient approach that lets you continue to live at home while you work on your substance abuse issues. If you’re considering this level of care, the team at Choice House in Boulder, Colorado, has answered your top 15 questions about IOPs to help you make an informed decision.

All About IOPs

Let’s start with the basics. You might already be familiar with IOPs, but if you’re not, it’s important to learn what they are, how they work, and who they’re for. We’ve covered the fundamentals below.

    1. What does “IOP” Mean?

      IOP is short for “intensive outpatient program.” Outpatient treatment is a recovery solution that provides more freedom and flexibility than a residential rehab, but without sacrificing quality of care. While inpatient programs require clients to live on-site, individuals in an IOP travel to a facility a few times a week for therapy sessions, then return home.

    2. Why is it Considered Intensive?

      IOPs are intensive because they require a bigger time commitment than typical outpatient programs. At Choice House, clients come to our facility for therapy and treatment sessions every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, for 10 clinical hours a week. In contrast, standard outpatient programs require fewer hours and are more appropriate for those who need less support as they transition back into daily life.

    3. Are IOPs Structured?

      IOPs are structured yet flexible. Programming takes place in the evenings, allowing clients to go to work or school during the day and attend therapy sessions at night. Because of this, IOPs are great for helping individuals readjust to life after rehab, providing ongoing support and guidance during the early stages of recovery. IOPs are also a good option for busy professionals who can’t commit to a lengthy inpatient stay.

    4. How Long Does an IOP Last?

      Typically, IOPs last for eight to 12 weeks, but this may vary depending on a client’s needs or progress. Overcoming addiction requires a monumental shift in thinking and behavior, so the more time you can spend in treatment, the better. Transitioning throughout the different levels of care will also give you enough time to establish healthier habits and break the cycle of dependence.

    5. Who is IOP Recommended For?

      Like residential care, IOPs are highly personalized and suitable for a wide range of clients. It’s often recommended for those transitioning out of a higher level of care, but can be used as a starting point for recovery when a residential stay isn’t possible. IOPs are also ideal for those who have relapsed but want to regain a foothold in their sobriety.

      If a client needs more support than IOP can provide, Choice House may recommend inpatient treatment instead, while those that are more stable might prefer a less restrictive aftercare or sober living program.

    6. Is IOP Covered by Insurance?

      While IOPs are typically covered by health insurance, this may vary depending on your carrier. Choice House works with most insurance providers, but you can call our office to verify your benefits.

IOPs vs. Other Levels of Care

Now that we’ve covered the nuts and bolts of IOPs, you might be wondering how this level of care is different from others, such as residential treatment, PHPs or sober living. Some key factors make each option unique.

    1. How Does IOP Differ from Residential Care?

      While both residential programs and IOPs help individuals overcome addiction, there is a main difference between the two. In a residential facility, clients live on-site for the duration of the program, which usually lasts between 30 and 90 days. Residential care provides the highest level of support and is often recommended when a client’s life, health and functioning have been severely disrupted by drug or alcohol use.

      In contrast, IOP clients live at home and come to the rehab facility for therapy, counseling and other treatment services in the evenings. No overnight stays are required. When your life can’t be put on hold, IOPs provide an intensive yet flexible option to help you get sober.

    2. How Does IOP Differ from PHP?

      IOPs are more similar to PHPs than to residential treatment. PHPs are partial hospitalization programs that also offer support without an overnight stay, but do so in a medical environment. As a step down from residential care, PHPs require more treatment hours than an IOP (typically between 25 to 30 a week) but still allow clients to return home in the evenings. PHPs are often recommended for those who need more support to improve their coping skills and avoid relapse.

    3. How Does IOP Differ from Sober Living?

      Sober living provides a safe and stable housing environment where those in recovery can readjust to daily life, but with access to peer support and guidance when needed. Many individuals in sober living are also enrolled in an outpatient program, which helps ease the transition into a drug-free lifestyle. Sober living homes also provide a sense of community and camaraderie crucial to the recovery process.

What Happens During IOP?

Last but not least, you probably have questions about what actually happens in an IOP. While most IOPs follow a similar schedule and structure, treatment plans are individualized to help clients achieve and maintain lasting recovery.

  1. What Happens in an IOP?

    While enrolled in IOP, you’ll attend therapy sessions several times a week to further develop your coping skills. IOP curriculums are designed to provide a clear path to recovery and help you overcome any challenges you may encounter. At Choice House, specific topics or themes are explored each week to address several issues related to addiction, such as how to “start over,” rebuilding your relationships, and strategies for healthy living.

  2. What Will I Learn in IOP?

    IOPs will teach you relapse prevention techniques to help you stay sober in the real world. You’ll also work on improving your communication skills, recognizing triggers, developing important life skills, finding career opportunities, managing mental health symptoms and much more for a well-rounded approach to recovery. Your therapist will help you build on your strengths and address any blind spots you may have to ensure you’re equipped to deal with whatever comes your way.

  3. Are IOP Treatment Plans Individualized?

    Much like residential care, IOPs provide an individualized approach to recovery. You’ll work closely with your therapist to set your own recovery goals and find the appropriate solutions for achieving them. Because we all face different challenges and obstacles in our lives, treatment plans are tailored to your needs to give you the best possible chance at lifelong sobriety.

  4. Is Group Therapy Part of IOP?

    Addiction thrives in isolation, so group therapy is a crucial aspect of IOPs. Peer support connects you with like-minded individuals who understand the issues you’re facing and gives you the opportunity to learn from others. During group therapy, you’ll gain valuable insights, advice or knowledge that will help you better understand your own behavior and further your personal growth and development. The group aspect of IOP treatment also ensures you’ll have the support of a recovery community when you need it most.

  5. Can IOP Address Mental Health Problems?

    Most facilities that offer IOP can also treat underlying mental health problems like anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder. At Choice House, we know that addiction and mental illness often go hand-in-hand, so we have a dual license to address the full scope of our client’s needs and help them achieve deep and lasting recovery. Left untreated, mental health symptoms often lead to relapse, so dual diagnosis care is a key component of our IOP recovery curriculum.

  6. Can’t I Just Do This Stuff at Home?

    It might be tempting to think that you can stay sober on your own, but this approach often ends in relapse. For starters, you might not even realize the triggers, stressors or temptations that surround you at home, and you’ll be ill-equipped to deal with them once you do. You’ll also lack a support network, making it harder to get through the bad days. Finally, any underlying issues you may have will go unaddressed, compromising any progress you might make toward a healthier lifestyle. Completing treatment in a rehab facility significantly improves your chances of both short and long-term success.

Ready to Learn More?

The best recovery solutions are the ones that work for you. There’s no one right way to heal from addiction, but learning more about your options can help you make an informed decision. Choice House provides IOP as a transitional step after you finish a higher level of care, or as a starting point for your recovery. To learn more about IOP in Boulder, Colorado, and how it can help you or a loved one, contact or call us today at 303-578-4975.

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