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What Is Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)? And What Are the Benefits?

You know it’s time. After everything you’ve been through, the moment has come to get professional help for your addiction.

Yet, which kind of service is right for you?

After all, being stuck in a program that doesn’t meet your needs isn’t going to helpful.

Even though you know you need help, you don’t really want to be in an intensive inpatient program. Stepping away from your job, your life, and natural support systems isn’t a good idea for you.

That’s where an intensive outpatient program (IOP) comes in.

It’s a form of treatment that doesn’t require a residential stay to detox. People who attend an outpatient program can get the benefits of treatment while also working, attending school, and being with their family.

IOP can help you to get the benefit of an intensive addiction treatment program without having to put the rest of your life on hold.

The Benefits of an Intensive Outpatient Program

Attaining Structure

One important fact about an intensive outpatient program is that it provides much-needed structure and support. When you enter a program, there is a clear path towards completing treatment. Perhaps this means there is a certain time frame or a level system.

Additionally, you must show up for treatment more often than a non-intensive program. This usually means attending every day.

Yes, that is a big commitment, but it’s less restrictive than an inpatient program. To make it work, you could attend sessions before or after work or even on your lunch break. The idea is that you are actively participating in the program to get the most out of it.

Gaining New Support Systems

Another benefit of outpatient treatment is that you will have new support systems to assist in your recovery.

For example:

  • Individual counseling sessions with a therapist
  • Group therapy sessions facilitated by a counselor
  • Support groups that have a moderator but not always a therapist
  • Peer mentors who have been through recovery and understand where you’re coming from

Before, while ensnared in your addiction, you probably thought that you were all alone. Now, you have access to many more people, both professionals and fellow addicts in recovery, who can support you during this process.

Learning New Skills to Cope

Oftentimes people become caught up in addiction because they were struggling to cope with larger issues in their lives. In an intensive outpatient program, you have the chance to learn new skills that will allow you to cope with those feelings and emotions—but without the substances.

Such skills may include:

  • Anger management
  • Mindfulness programs
  • Communication skills
  • Utilizing your creativity

These might be formal classes or topics taught by the professionals in your program. Or the subject matter could come up in the discussion you have in support groups or individual therapy.

Connecting the Dots Between Addiction and Recovery

Another common issue for those in addiction recovery is that there are often mental health issues involved as well.

For example, you might be depressed, which spurs your desire to use substances to “numb” yourself. That way you don’t have to experience those feelings and they go away. Or perhaps you’ve experienced trauma in the past that has never been fully resolved. The result is that you struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and this too can be a reason why you use substances.

When participating in an IOP, you will have the chance to connect the dots between your addiction and underlying issues that affect your recovery in order to heal the real issues.

Receiving Medication Management and Drug Screenings

Finally, an intensive outpatient program can provide technical expertise for medication management and drug screenings.

That means, for instance, when you report to the program, you will receive the medication you need. Also, if you have a job or legal issues that require you to pass a drug screen, the program can provide the necessary testing.

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) provides the structure of a formal treatment program while allowing you to also meet other needs in your life (work, school, family obligations). Even though the time spent in this type of program (90 days or so) isn’t that long, it has the potential to ensure you can live a better life.

If you would like more information about what to expect from an IOP or what the requirements are, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Author

Joshua Howell, MS, LPC, NCC, AADC, ICAADC, SAP, SAE

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