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Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) Benefits

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

January 31, 2024

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IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) offer structured outpatient treatment and a range of IOP benefits we’ll highlight today.

Research indicates that intensive outpatient programs are just as effective as residential rehab for treating most substance use disorders. IOPs can also be used to treat:

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  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Mental health disorders
  • Co-occurring disorders

According to ASAM (the American Society of Addiction Medicine), addiction treatment can take place at five distinct levels on a continuum of care as follows:

  1. Early intervention services
  2. Outpatient services
  3. Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs)
  4. Inpatient treatment services
  5. Medically-managed intensive residential treatment services

IOPs fall in the middle of this continuum, bridging the gap between inpatient and outpatient treatment. Engaging with an IOP enables you to remain anchored to everyday life while attending therapy sessions on weekdays at an outpatient treatment center.

What are the Advantages of IOP?

To determine whether an outpatient programming is appropriate for you, first consider the following powerful IOP benefits:

  • Flexible form of rehab allowing you to work around your commitments
  • Affordable evidence-based treatment for addiction and mental health
  • More intense therapy than a standard outpatient program
  • Family and support network readily available
  • Protects your privacy
  • Practice skills and techniques you learn in an IOP in daily life

Flexible form of rehab allowing you to work around your commitments

Research shows that only 10% of those with substance use disorders receive any kind of treatment.

For many people – even if they have a more severe substance use disorder – it is impractical or impossible to disengage from commitments and responsibilities for a month or more. Even if residential rehab seems advisable, it is much better to attend an IOP than to go without any treatment at all.

Others with less acute addictions or more manageable mental health conditions may not need inpatient treatment, making intensive outpatient programs one of the most popular options for recovery.

Affordable evidence-based treatment for addiction and mental health

Residential rehab is expensive due to the cost of food and board. For anyone looking to kickstart their recovery without overextending themselves financially, an IOP is among the most cost-effective forms of treatment.

Even if your health insurance will not cover the costs of inpatient treatment, coverage almost always extends to outpatient programs like IOPs and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs).

More intense therapy than a standard outpatient program

Standard outpatient programs (OPs) offer minimal therapy and support. If you don’t need inpatient rehab but you need more structure and time commitment than an OP delivers, an IOP occupies the rung above on the continuum of care.

You can expect between 12 and 15 hours of weekly therapy sessions, substantially more sessions than you get with an OP, but you won’t find the schedule as restrictive as that of a PHP, the most intensive form of outpatient treatment, and you won’t need to pack your bags and head to rehab either.

Family and support network readily available

Every addiction is different, and everyone has different treatment needs. If you have a milder addiction and a stable, supportive support network, it can be beneficial to engage with outpatient treatment so you can remain anchored to this health network of friends and family.

With an IOP, you can remain at home for most of the time, but you don’t need to compromise the level of care you receive to achieve this.

Protects your privacy

It is challenging to take 30 to 90 days off work and head to residential rehab, especially if you want to begin your recovery discreetly and privately.

For anyone looking to engage with addiction treatment without alerting friends, family, or employers, an IOP is a discreet and flexible option.

Practice skills and techniques you learn in an IOP in daily life

Residential rehab offers a sheltered and protective environment, but this is also cocooned from the real world. When you complete your therapy sessions, you remain in that insulated environment.

When you engage with an IOP, though, you’ll head home between sessions. This allows you to practice the skills and techniques you learn in therapy in your day-to-day life. You can then report back to your therapist with the results.

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Benefits of Structure in a Chemical Dependency IOP Program?

With an IOP for addiction, you get sufficient structure while retaining the flexibility to meet your everyday responsibilities.

Therapy takes place in regularly scheduled sessions at an outpatient treatment center, utilizing a combination of individual and group counseling. Although attendance at 12-step support groups like AA and NA is not part of most rehab programs, clinical staff will encourage you to explore the benefits of peer support groups.

One of the most substantial IOP benefits is that it mimics the treatment delivered in residential rehab, but without the accompanying restrictions.

There are several core IOP benefits of a highly structured treatment for substance abuse, even when delivered in an outpatient setting:

  • Enables you to establish a new routine
  • Helps reduce boredom
  • Can boost physical and mental health

Enables you to establish a new routine

Active addiction is incredibly time-consuming. Newly sober, you may feel like each day is a vast expanse of time stretching ahead of you.

Rather than fearing sober life or viewing time as an enemy, the structure of intensive outpatient therapy will help you to embrace the time at your disposal.

Routine can also provide a valuable sense of security at a time of chaos and upheaval. As you integrate and consolidate new, healthy practices, you’ll begin noticing the benefits of sober living. An IOP can help you to create the firmest foundation for this.

Helps reduce boredom

Recovery is about much more than detox and withdrawal. Once you complete your treatment program and transition back into daily living, you may find yourself feeling bored or aimless. After all, you will be stripped of the structure offered by several hours of therapy each day.

One of the major IOP benefits is the way it keeps you occupied during the challenging initial phase of recovery. As you engage with treatment, you’ll also be implementing healthier lifestyle techniques and practices. Once you finish your IOP, then, you should be ideally placed to keep boredom at bay, instead embracing all that sober living has to offer.

Can boost physical and mental health

Another benefit of adopting and following a more consistent schedule is the physical and mental boost that a routine can provide.

You should find that the quality and quantity of your sleep improves, boosting your energy levels and overall health.

Incorporating at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine will strengthen your body while also enhancing your mood.

Does Intensive Outpatient Treatment Work?

This study analyzed many studies of the effectiveness of IOPs.

In most of the studies in the meta-analysis, between 50% and 70% of participants remained abstinent at the first follow-up session after program completion. This rate roughly mirrors that expected from inpatient treatment.

As IOPs last longer than a residential rehab program, you’ll benefit from longer-lasting treatment, and you’ll also be free to head home to your family each night.

Addiction is a chronic and relapsing condition but engaging with an IOP – whether after residential rehab or as a first-line treatment – can help you create a strong foundation for ongoing recovery.

Is IOP Treatment Right for Me?

Most IOPs involve from 10 to 15 hours of individual and group therapy each week. Participation in 12-step programs is encouraged but not obligatory. Therapy sessions are scheduled 3 to 4 times weekly for up to 3 hours each day.

Whether this level of care is appropriate for you will depend on many variables. Typically, IOPs are recommended in the following cases:

  • For mild and some moderate addictions without severe co-occurring disorders
  • For patients with a stable, supportive home environment free of triggers for substance abuse
  • As a step down the continuum of care from residential rehab

If you feel you meet these criteria, we can help you here at Renaissance’s California and Florida rehab programs.

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IOP at Renaissance Recovery

Here at Renaissance Recovery’s drug rehab we specialize in the outpatient treatment of addiction, mental health disorders, and co-occurring disorders.

For those with mild and moderate alcohol use disorders and substance use disorders, our IOPs provide the support and structure associated with residential rehab at a much more affordable price point. Even better, insurance will typically cover the costs of an IOP, and we are happy to accept insurance here at Renaissance.

Addiction is not a choice, but you can choose to commit to recovery. If you make that decision and engage with an IOP, you’ll have access to an evidence-based combination of the following:

When you complete your intensive outpatient program here at Renaissance Recovery’s Florida rehab, we’ll personalize aftercare and relapse prevention plans to maximize your chances of ongoing sobriety without relapse. To make this happen, call 866.330.9449 today.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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