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Does Intensive Outpatient Treatment Work?

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

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Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

Does intensive outpatient treatment work is a question with no clear-cut answer.

That said, not everyone needs residential rehab, and not everyone wants the cost or the restrictions of inpatient treatment either and there is some evidence that suggests that outpatient rehab may be just as effective as inpatient.

IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) are a step down the continuum of care from residential rehab and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs), but a step up from regular outpatient programs.  

Is intensive outpatient treatment proven effective, though?

Does IOP Even Work?

When substance use disorder and/or mental health disorders are diagnosed as moderate or severe, residential rehab often provides the strongest chance of recovery without relapse.

Most mild addictions and mental health issues, as well as some moderate conditions, respond equally favorably to outpatient therapy.

For those suited to outpatient treatment, the brief weekly sessions might not offer sufficient structure or support. This is where more intensive outpatient treatment comes in. You have two main options:

  • IOP: A part-time outpatient program offering a minimum of 9 hours of weekly therapy
  • PHP: A full-time outpatient program offering up to 35 hours of weekly therapy

The success or failure of an IOP largely hinges on whether or not the patient is suited to this method of treatment delivery.

The condition being treated is also a strong contributory factor to the viability of intensive outpatient treatment.

The evidence base for the treatment of alcohol use disorders shows that outpatient treatment is not inferior to inpatient treatment. There are nevertheless some patients more suited to this form of treatment than others.

When it comes to substance use disorders, this review of the evidence base outlines the effectiveness of IOPs, while pointing to a substantial difference in outcomes.

How about IOPs for mental health, then?

Is IOP Effective for Substance Abuse Treatment?

Does IOP work?

Well, the success or failure of an IOP largely hinges on whether or not the patient is suited to this method of treatment delivery.

The condition being treated is also a strong contributory factor to the viability of intensive outpatient treatment.

The evidence base for the treatment of alcohol use disorders shows that outpatient treatment is not inferior to inpatient treatment. There are nevertheless some patients more suited to this form of treatment than others.

When it comes to substance use disorders, this review of the evidence base outlines the effectiveness of IOPs, while pointing to a substantial difference in outcomes.

How about IOPs for mental health, then?

Does Intensive Outpatient Treatment Work for Mental Health?

This study of 400 patients with depressive disorders demonstrates that outpatient treatment can serve as a solution for patients requiring more than a single weekly treatment session but without the commitment of a day clinic or inpatient treatment.

Outpatient treatment for mental health disorders offers several key benefits, including:

  • Discretion: You can attend a mental health IOP around your existing commitments at work or school
  • Support network: Since you won’t be packing your bags and heading to rehab, you can stay connected to your friends, family, and support network while engaging with treatment for mental health issues
  • Highly customizable: The best mental health IOPs can be customized to fit your schedule, and they can also be personalized if you have any special requirements

So, when mental health conditions are not too severe and do not co-occur with addiction, IOPs are typically effective – when used to treat depression, for example.

Depression

An IOP for mental health is intended to resolve immediate issues while also promoting short-term stabilization.

If you engage with an IOP for depression, you and your family can access a wide range of services courtesy of a team of professionals and specialists.

Along with others working through broadly similar issues, you’ll undertake a time-limited and intensive treatment program.

IOPs offer you access to the following:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Psychotherapy like CBT and DBT
  • Treatment recommended by psychiatrist
  • Medication management
  • Educational and vocational services

These services are delivered by nurses, psychiatrists, and other mental healthcare professionals in an environment that is supportive and structured, but not as restrictive as residential therapy.

Dual Diagnosis

Research shows that patients with mood disorders or anxiety disorders are more than twice as likely to experience substance use disorders than those without these mental health conditions.

When substance use disorders and mental health disorders co-occur, this is known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorder.

Dual diagnosis can include addictions to the following:

  • Alcohol
  • Prescription opioids
  • Prescription benzos
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Meth
  • Heroin

Similarly, many mental health conditions can be implicated in dual diagnosis, including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia

In the event of dual diagnosis, it might be either the mental health condition or the substance use disorders that develop first. No two cases of the co-occurring disorders are alike.

Fortunately, with the right dual diagnosis treatment, you can unpack both issues simultaneously, putting an end to self-medicating your symptoms and kickstarting your recovery.

Even better?

You can achieve this without the expense or the upheaval of residential rehab.

How Does IOP Work?

With an intensive outpatient program, you attend sessions at a treatment center on weekdays. After therapy sessions, you return home or to a sober living home.

The outpatient nature of these programs means you can maintain some semblance of normality while still benefiting from structure and intensive treatment.

As long as you do not have a severe substance use disorder, you may find an IOP allows you to commit fully to recovery without heading to residential rehab.

IOPs offer you access to the following:

●  Individual counseling

●  Group counseling

●  Psychotherapy like CBT and DBT

●  Treatment recommended by psychiatrist

●  Medication management

●  Educational and vocational services

These services are delivered by nurses, psychiatrists, and other mental healthcare professionals in an environment that is supportive and structured, but not as restrictive as residential therapy.

You can achieve this without the expense or the upheaval of residential rehab.

IOP at Renaissance Recovery

Here at Renaissance Recovery Center, our IOPs for alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, and co-occurring disorder are all highly personalized.

For anyone without the right home environment for outpatient treatment, sober living homes are worth exploring. Here, you can engage with your outpatient treatment while surrounded by others in recovery.

Our evidence-based programs offer you a combination of medication-assisted treatment (if appropriate), psychotherapies, counseling, and holistic therapies.

Reach out to admissions today at 866.330.9449.

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Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

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Paige R

“They truly cared for me and the other people that I served with! From this group, I have made 8 new brothers and friends for life! We have continued on, after the program, to take care of each other”

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Courtney S

“Great staff who took the time to get to know me. They have a lot of experience in this field and have first hand experience with what I was going through. IOP is outstanding and really built up a ton of great relationships and found this program to be a ‘breath of fresh air’.”

Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country