Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) is a type of specialized outpatient addiction recovery program that provides more structure and a more intensive level of care than a standard outpatient program while still accommodating the person’s home and work life.
It can be used as a follow-up to successful detox, as a primary form of care, or as part of an aftercare plan for someone who has completed an inpatient program.
An intensive outpatient addiction program (IOP) provides people with the freedom to live at home and still attend work or school while receiving addiction services.
While some people use an IOP as a primary type of care, others may transition to an IOP after completing an inpatient program to continue to build on coping skills and decrease the risk of relapse. Still others may require monitored detoxification and will transition to an IOP after going through detox.
Intensive outpatient programs for substance abuse offer many of the same services that inpatient programs do without you having to take time off of work or school and spend time away from family. Programs use a group counseling approach that helps to negate the high cost of individual therapy while building on important skills.
Upon entering an intensive outpatient program, you will be assigned a treatment team. The team will work with you to create a treatment plan based on your intake evaluation and individual needs. IOP services are greatly focused on relapse prevention and developing healthy coping skills. 1
Below are some common services offered in IOPs:
Group counseling : IOPs rely heavily on group therapy to enhance sober behaviors, develop communication skills, introduce structure, and provide guidance. 2 Groups can focus on different aspects of recovery, such as addiction education, relapse prevention, stress management, coping skills, life skills, interpersonal process, and support. 2
Family therapy : These groups educate the family on the consequences of substance addiction on relationships and help to mend broken relationships between the user and his or her family members. 2
Individual therapyI : Individual therapy isn’t typically the primary form of treatment in IOPs. But it is often used as an adjunct service. The therapist’s aim isn’t to uncover underlying issues that influence drug or alcohol abuse, but rather to rectify maladaptive behaviors. 2
Medication management : When combined with therapy and psychosocial supports, medication can be effective in promoting abstinent behaviors by decreasing cravings, blocking the desired effects of substances, or treating mental health problems that contribute to drug or alcohol abuse. Medication can also be prescribed to treat any physical ailments caused by addiction. 2
Matrix Model : This therapeutic intervention is used to treat an addiction to stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. The therapist, who acts as both a coach and a teacher, creates an empowering and encouraging environment and promotes high self-esteem and self-regard. Some treatment approaches include family education groups, skills groups, relapse prevention groups, urine tests, social support groups, drug education, self-help, relapse analysis, and 12-step programs. 3
Length of Treatment
Intensive outpatient programs vary greatly in length. They may range anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks, before people enter a maintenance phase, which could last for months. 2
Ideally, people attend an IOP for 3-5 times per week with a required minimum of 9 hours of treatment per week. 2
. McCarty, D., Braude, L., Lyman, D. R., Dougherty, R. H., Daniels, A. S., Ghose, S. S., & Delphin-Rittmon, M. E. (2014). Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence. PS Psychiatric Services, 65(6), 718-726. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201300249
. Forman, R. F., and Nagy, P. D. (2006). Substance abuse: Clinical issues in intensive outpatient treatment. Rockville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). The Matrix Model (Stimulants) .
. The White House. Substance Abuse and the Affordable Care Act .