Intensive Outpatient Programs: What Are They and Who Are They Aimed At?Healthcare providers typically recommend IOPs for one of two purposes: For patients with a mild addiction not calling for medically-supervised detox For patients who need the support of ongoing recovery services once discharged from residential rehab Intensive outpatient program centers are effective for addiction to drink and drugs. Among those dependent on alcohol or addicted to drugs in America, SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) estimates that 8 million have a co-occurring disorder. This means they have an underlying mental health condition presenting simultaneously to substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder. With an IOP, you’ll be able to get help addressing both of these issues. This will maximize your chance of a successful recovery. Although intensive outpatient programs are not residential, decent programs will offer some form of crisis service out-of-hours. You’ll often find 24/7 hotlines available in these centers. Family members are encouraged to get involved when their loved one is undergoing an IOP. With a healthy and supportive atmosphere in place at home, some patients find intensive outpatient programs provide the support they need without prohibitive restrictions like remaining at the facility for up to a month. Understandably, not everyone is able to take a month out. So, now you have an understanding of what an IOP is, what are the main goals of intensive outpatient programs after residential rehab?
Intensive Outpatient Programs: Main GoalsResidential rehab is essential for some patients with severe addictions or unstable home environments. Inpatient treatment can also be extremely effective. Leaving a treatment center and its sheltered, caring environment can be risky if you don’t have the right follow-up care in place. Outpatient programs allow the recovering alcoholic or addict to build a strong foundation for sustained recovery while in a familiar environment with the requisite support on hand. Some of the goals of IOP include:
- Abstaining from drink or drugs
- Making behavioral changes
- Improving your problem-solving skills
- Addressing issues with employment, housing, or probation
- Assembling an appropriate, reliable support network
- Attending 12-step programs or SMART Recovery groups
How Long Do Intensive Outpatient Programs Usually Last?The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that an outpatient program should last for at least 90 days. If you’re seeking treatment for heroin addiction and you need methadone maintenance treatment, programs of up to 12 months are considered the minimum. What can you expect to unfold if you commit to an intensive outpatient program, then?
IOP: ScheduleYou can expect a detailed assessment before any treatment begins. This allows treatment to be personalized. While the individualized nature of an IOP means there is no one-size-fits-all schedule, it will be expected that you conform to the schedule that’s arranged. Treatment normally takes place for 6 to 30 hours a week. Many variables impact the number of hours you’ll need to commit to, in particular the type and severity of addiction. The hours and the timing of these sessions will also vary due to the intrinsic flexibility of these programs. Treatment is typically delivered in blocks of 3 to 4 hours on weekdays. Each session is around 90 minutes long. Often, sessions are held back-to-back. Since the nature of an IOP is to allow flexibility for the recovering addict to start normalizing their situation, the hours and timing of sessions vary. Generally, group work consists of patients at approximately the same stage of recovery.
IOP: Core ComponentsNow, IOP can sometimes be offered as a first line form of treating addiction. Intensive outpatient drug rehabilitation services can also be used to step down from residential rehab, or as a step up from a less rigidly-structured outpatient program. Wherever you enter an IOP on the continuum of care, you can expect the following services according to the SAMHSA Treatment Improvement Protocols:
- Behavioral therapy
- Case management
- Close monitoring of use of alcohols or drugs
- Exposure to educational opportunities
- Group counseling
- Individual counseling
- Medical treatment
- Mental health treatment
- Pharmacological tools
- Support group meetings
- Training in core life skills
- 24-hour crisis management
Therapies Used in IOPsResearch indicates that no one type of therapy is more suited than others to intensive outpatient programs. Instead, treatment centers employ many different theoretical approaches to IOP. Here are some of the most common modalities on offer:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is grounded on the concept that all behaviors and thoughts are learned. This includes self-destructive behaviors like drinking or abusing drugs. Patients use CBT to identify triggers for such negative behaviors. They will also develop superior coping skills to help minimize the chance of relapse.
- Motivational Interviewing: Motivational interviewing can be effective if patients have been previously unwilling to engage in addiction treatment. A therapist can sometimes help dismantle this resistance. The patient will take full responsibility for their actions. They will make an inventory of the harmful consequences of drinking or using drugs. This type of therapy can help pave the way toward more productive and healthy behaviors.
- 12-Step Programs: Many intensive outpatient programs teach the fundamental principles of 12-step programs. Often, patients are encouraged to attend local 12-step meetings outside the treatment center. Sometimes, groups like NA and AA will hold meetings on-site at treatment centers to improve access and attendance.
- Therapeutic Community: This type of therapy points to the whole community as a therapeutic agent. Mindfulness and absolute honesty are encouraged and the road to recovery is viewed as developmental. The only certainty is change, according to this model.
- Matrix Model: The matrix model combines elements of different therapies. This approach works best for addiction to stimulants like cocaine. The core focus is on relapse prevention, time management, and community support groups.