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How to Find The Best Intensive Outpatient Treatment

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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

Finding the best intensive outpatient drug treatment center is difficult. If you’re looking for alcohol rehab in California, we know it can be confusing and overwhelming when you’re confronted with so many options. If you need to be able to go home after treatment, but you need a level of care that you get as a residential inpatient, an intensive outpatient treatment program could be the ideal choice for you. 

Intensive outpatient alcohol treatment is suitable for people who have just completed a residential inpatient program and still need significant input. It’s also for people who are unable to halt their daily work and family commitments.

But, while this article is not intended to alarm you, there’s a good reason why you should check you’re with a reputable company.

The current opioid crisis has given rise to thousands of new drug treatment centers. There is plenty of profit to be made from drug treatment. Sadly, you must pay attention to corrupt establishments that could make your addiction worse.

Some business people see this as an opportunity to get rich. When a business puts profits over people, people suffer.

There are thousands of treatment programs and knowing which one to go for can be daunting.

Your recovery is important, and it is costly too. So before you part with any cash or commit to any program please double check that the center you go with is ethical.

Here we outline how to find the best intensive outpatient treatment without falling prey to predatory forces who want to profit from your problem rather than see you get well.

What Is an Intensive Outpatient Alcohol Program?

The best Intensive Outpatient Programs are suited to those who receive psychosocial support on a part-time basis.

With this program, a person attends the treatment center daily rather than stay as an inpatient, but they receive a similar level of input as the residential inpatient program. Typically an outpatient will receive 9 hours of individual and group therapy over 3 to 5 days.

Services you can expect to receive on an intensive outpatient program include:

  •  Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Detoxification

People who have just completed treatment as an inpatient may transition as an intensive outpatient to lessen the chances of relapse and continue developing coping skills. Also if a person’s home environment is particularly risky they may need more intensive support to manage triggers.

Some people move into a sober home while an intensive outpatient. Intensive outpatient treatment for substance use disorder is also for those who are unable to halt their work and family commitments.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment vs Outpatient Treatment

The Intensive outpatient treatment differs from outpatient treatment in terms of intensity of treatment. With outpatient treatment you may have one visit a week or every two weeks with your substance use counselor.

For many, intensive outpatient programs are ideal if you can’t afford a residential inpatient program. Also, you will receive the same treatment such as family therapy, group therapy, and individual therapy.

Signs of A Quality Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program

For your recovery to be a success you need a reputable treatment center. With so many centers to choose from it can be confusing and overwhelming.

So how can you know if an intensive outpatient treatment program is right for you?

Best Outpatient Addiction Treatment Staff

You want to get better. So, you want a program that is delivered by highly qualified, skilled, and experienced staff and has high rates of success. 

You may have an undiagnosed mental health disorder at the root of your addiction such as:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Complex PTSD

It’s also possible that you have more than one mental health disorder in which case you may get treatment as an intensive outpatient for mental health.

A skilled mental health professional will be able to assess you and diagnose you accurately. Staff should be adept at creating an effective therapeutic alliance with patients.

A misdiagnosis could lead to an inappropriate course of treatment which will compromise your chances of a successful recovery.

Best Outpatient Dual Diagnosis Treatment

A quality treatment center should have staff who can deal with dual diagnoses effectively. While you are researching treatment programs make sure you find out how they work with dual diagnosis cases. Your treatment plan must be specifically tailored to your needs.

You may also be addicted to more than one substance, which can make it more difficult to untangle the root causes of your substance use disorder.

The team should also consist of staff with multidisciplinary skills such as medication, psychiatry, and spirituality. Staff should hold at least a degree and board certification or license.

Program Accreditation

Another thing to look out for is licensing and certification.


The Department of Health Care Services is responsible for licensing treatment centers in California. Licensing is a legal prerequisite for any center that provides:

  • Detoxification programs
  • Individual sessions
  • Group sessions
  • Treatment planning for alcohol or substance use disorders
  • Medical services
  • Educational sessions

A treatment center will probably have other legal obligations such as certain permits, security clearances, taxes, or local fees. These can vary between counties and cities, so you can check these by visiting the website of the local authority.


If a treatment center exceeds the minimum standard of service the DHCS can certify them. This is a good one to look out for. To obtain certification all treatment programs get an on-site assessment by a representative from the DHCS.

The good news is that most treatment centers in California have both licensing and certification.

Ease of Access

A high-quality intensive outpatient program will make treatment accessible to a wide demographic of people. 

From the moment of the first contact, a good treatment center will keep the communication going with the patient before admission. Your initial appointment should be available on-demand without delay.

If transport is an issue for you, the center should be able to assist you. A center should be welcoming and friendly. The staff should make you feel at home and at ease.

Best Programs Will Help You Stay Motivated

It is normal for a person who has detoxed from a substance use disorder to experience failing motivation from time to time. It is at these times a person is likely to relapse.

A quality treatment center will have developed a range of strategies designed to bolster a person’s motivation. An intensive outpatient program should be able to constantly remind a person of their reasons for entering treatment.

A skilled counselor will gain a good understanding and insight into what motivates a person so they can appeal to what a person cares about the most. For instance, if someone talks a lot about their child, the counselor can ask them how their addiction affects them. Intensive outpatient programs work hard to incentivize and enhance patient motivation.

More Tips On Finding The Best Intensive Outpatient Program

As we mentioned before, it’s crucial to find a treatment center that doesn’t put profits over people. Due to the lack of regulation in the industry at this stage, it’s up to you to ensure that you find a center that truly values the positive impact it has on the community.

Be Wary of Free Stuff

Rehab brokers are exploiting addicted people seeking treatment through rehab referral schemes. Addicted people are being offered incentives such as large sums of money, drugs, hotel rooms, or flights to enter rehab programs.

Many rehab brokers are current or former users and can make between $1000 and $12,000 for each referral to a rehab center. Rehab brokers are now illegal in Florida, but the practice continues in other states. As a result, people are cycled in and out of rehab costing thousands of dollars, which is known as the “rehab shuffle.”

If you’re seeking treatment you must disregard the tempting incentives of rehab brokers. You could end up in a worse cycle of treatment and relapse. To be frank, a rehab center that pays a commission to brokers for filling beds.

Social media support groups and peer support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are poaching grounds for rehab brokers.

Once a person has detoxed they have the difficult task of staying on track. A rehab broker you’ve been in contact with may get in touch and offer you money or drugs as an incentive to check into a rehab center.

This practice is shockingly common and staying substance-free is difficult even without this predatory force there to tempt you.

When you are researching treatment options, restrict your inquiries to respected sources. Even do a Google search and interview centers directly over the phone. Ignore charismatic people who approach you with offers of money, hotels, drugs, or flights, online or face to face.

Ask Treatment Centers How Much They Charge For Urine Tests

Urine testing is part and parcel of drug rehab.

To be eligible for rehab you have to provide a dirty urine sample, that is, to test positive for drugs. Since the Affordable Care Act made drug treatment more widely available the need for drug tests has soared.

Urine tests are so profitable they have been coined liquid gold. Unscrupulous rehab companies see this as a potential to make a fortune.

If you ask how much they charge for a urinalysis report you will get a good feel for the type of company they are.

Some clinics will charge $4000 for a test and demand to repeat testing two or three times a week. Federal reimbursement of tests is a maximum of $80 for Medicare tests, but if you’re a private patient you could be charged much more.

You could also ask a center if they own their testing labs. That way you’ll know if they’re profiting from your problem. Shop around and do your research. That way you’ll know if a rehab center is genuinely committed to your recovery.

Ask If A Rehab Center Is Part Of A Hospital Network

Some treatment centers don’t even include qualified physicians. This is a red flag despite being common.

Centers that are part of a network tend to have higher regulatory standards and have been fully vetted. You don’t want to fall prey to insurance scams.

Do A Background Check

Check with regulatory agencies in your state for any complaints that may have been filed against them. Regulation of rehab is somewhat patchy right now. But, if you learn of any complaints about insurance fraud or rehab referral schemes walk away.

Ask Them About Their Back To Work Schemes

Rehab centers typically assist people back into work.  However, lately, there have been concerns that people in rehab are being exploited.

Work therapy entails getting a person in recovery to do voluntary work as part of their rehabilitation. Work can include working in a thrift shop, trimming trees, or odd jobs.

This work is often unpaid, although the customer may pay the rehab center for your work. Some rehab patients have complained they are working 40 to 50 hours a week unpaid.

You should be paid an adequate wage with overtime if the center is receiving payment from a client.

Questions to Ask A Treatment Center

While you’re ringing around, arm yourself with an arsenal of probing questions to establish whether the center will maximize your chance of a successful recovery.

  • What help do you offer with reentering the workforce?
  • How do you keep intensive outpatients safe from COVID 19?
  • If work therapy is included in your curriculum, is it paid?
  • How many hours of ‘work therapy’ is required in a week?
  • What licensing and certification do you have?
  • How much do you charge for a urinalysis?
  • How often will you do urine tests?
  • Do you have qualified doctors on-site?
  • How many staff do you have?
  • Are staff available around the clock?
  • How will I be assessed?
  • How is treatment tailored to individual needs?
  • What is your aftercare like?
  • How do you accommodate people with children?
  • What are your success rates?
  • How can the program assist with transportation?
  • How do you treat co-occurring mental health disorders?

IOP for Addiction in Orange County

If you’re looking to become free from substances or alcohol in Orange County, Renaissance Recovery is a reputable center that has your best interests at heart.

To assess the quality of a treatment center, do your research, ask questions, and go with your gut feeling.

If you feel that the staff are adequately caring and qualified, that’s a good sign. It’s also a great idea to get feedback on others who have used the center to get a feel for the quality of service.

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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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“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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“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’.”

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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