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What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

Intensive outpatient treatment is drug and alcohol treatment for people who do not need to go through medical detox.

Many people need a residential treatment program where they can stay shielded from the stresses and triggers of their typical environment. People who come from troubled homes or who live on the streets can benefit greatly from residential treatment.

But, some people are unable to leave their daily responsibilities, and some simply prefer the comfort of their own home. For whatever reason, people can receive intensive addiction treatment while living outside of the treatment centers. 

The goal of intensive outpatient therapy is the same as other substance use treatment programs: to achieve and maintain abstinence. 

People who are recovering from years of alcohol or drug abuse need to untangle the causes of their addiction and learn new ways of living. Recovery is about dismantling the person’s addicted life and rebuilding a new life away from temptation and triggers.

This process takes time, persistence, and patience. Withdrawal symptoms never go away completely for many people in recovery, and cravings can strike at any time.

As recovery is so complicated and challenging, a suitable addiction treatment program can help to learn about why they are addicted, resolve inner wounds, and learn to cope with life healthily.

What Is IOP?

IOP stands for an intensive outpatient program. This type of addiction treatment program is designed to provide people the freedom to live off-site and still attend work or school while receiving addiction services.

While some people use an IOP as their primary type of care, others may transition to an intensive outpatient program after completing a more intensive inpatient program so that they can continue to build their coping skills and decrease their risk of relapse. Others may require monitored detoxification and will transition to using an intensive outpatient rehab in Orange County after going through detox.

Inpatient vs. Intensive Outpatient Programs

The biggest difference is that inpatient or residential rehab programs require that you live at the facility, while outpatient services allow you to return home when your treatment sessions are completed. Intensive outpatient programs are most suited to those who don’t need constant monitoring. Inpatient programs, on the other hand, are more intensive and suited to people who might be substance use impaired or dual diagnoses.

Intensive outpatient programs work much like residential treatment programs, which last 30, 60, or 90 days, and even longer if necessary. These programs can be a significant commitment if you have other responsibilities.

However, people attending intensive outpatient programs can schedule addiction treatment when it works best for them. Intensive outpatient programs typically meet at least 3 days a week, for 2 to 4 hours each day.

However, people attending IOPs can access similar services to inpatient programs, such as individual, group, and family therapy, and these are often just as effective. Consequently, intensive outpatient programs are a beneficial alternative to residential treatment when a person can’t afford to neglect home, school, or work obligations.

Intensive outpatient programs are more likely to be accepted by insurers than residential inpatient programs. The cost of residential inpatient treatment is more expensive than intensive outpatient treatment.

Those people who are unable to get funding or insurance for a residential inpatient program can combine an intensive outpatient program with lodging, such as the sober homes at Renaissance Recovery. 

With an intensive outpatient program, you receive the same level of treatment and support but live off-site. 

Intensive Outpatient Services

Intensive outpatient programs for substance abuse offer many of the same services that dedicated inpatient programs do without you having to take time off work or school and spend time away from family. Programs use a group counseling approach that helps to negate the high cost of individual therapy while building on important skills.

Therapy sessions focus on healing the body and mind as addictions are rooted in negative core beliefs that can be acquired in childhood. As every person is unique, an outpatient will be advised a specifically tailored program that addresses their individual needs.

Types of Intensive Outpatient Program

With outpatient rehab, the time, intensity, and format vary widely, but there are two main types of intensive outpatient programs: continuing care, and day programs. 

Day Programs/Intensive Outpatient Programs

This type of program is the most structured and intensive. With this program, a person must commit to sessions between five and seven days in the week. Most outpatients return home after the sessions although some stay in assisted living. 

While day programs are supposed to allow a degree of flexibility for the outpatient, it still demands a considerable time commitment and requires some time out for the program to be most effective.

 Continuing Care

Those who have completed detox and a residential program and need continued support can continue to attend therapy sessions and receive medication long after treatment is over.

As we mentioned before, recovery is a long-term process that needs patience and dedication. Life can get stressful when a person re-enters the world so a continued program of outpatient treatment can help.

What To Expect From an Intensive Outpatient Program

Upon entering an intensive outpatient program, you will be assigned a treatment team.

The team will work with you to create a treatment plan based on your intake evaluation and individual needs. IOP services are greatly focused on relapse prevention and developing healthy coping skills.

You meet with clinical and program directors who get to know you and work with you to create a recovery plan. You will then attend a series of group and individual therapy sessions. You’ll be constantly monitored on your progress until the chance of relapse is greatly reduced.

Common Services Offered in IOPs

There are many types of therapies offered by intensive outpatient programs that aim to heal a person’s self-esteem, learn about their relationships, and learn healthy coping mechanisms.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a powerful evidence-based talking therapy that gets a person to understand the negative core beliefs that underlie their compulsion to drink or take drugs.

This therapy encourages the individual to record and examine their automatic thoughts to decipher what belief is limiting them in life. The laddering technique in cognitive behavioral therapy is a process of questioning that leads a person to understand their subconscious thoughts.

Many negative core beliefs arise from adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect, and other traumas. By understanding how a person learned to adapt to these experiences they can then devise strategies to counteract the negative thoughts and emotions that lead them to drink or take substances.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

Dialectical behavioral therapy is used to treat a variety of mood and mental health disorders such as PTSD, bipolar, and depression.

This modality helps a person to manage their emotions more effectively and teaches them to regulate their emotions in times of distress.

Where cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on thoughts and emotions, dialectical behavioral therapy focuses on a person’s interactions with others.

There are two prongs to dialectical behavioral therapy: individual and group. In individual sessions, a therapist discusses the patient’s past week and their interactions. They then work on communication skills and strategies to cope with stressful situations and maintain an equilibrium through the week.

Vocational Development Program

Another component of intensive outpatient treatment is making plans for re-entering the workforce. Some people may not have been at work for a while and can struggle to find work .

Maintaining self-esteem is vital while job searching, this can be a struggle if a person faces continual rejection. Luckily, treatment centers such as Renaissance Recovery helps patients to proactively job search. 

A good vocational program links people with jobs and education opportunities and helps with writing resumes.

Holistic Therapy Activities

Another crucial aspect of recovery is learning to incorporate activities that promote calm and wellbeing. As relapse is triggered by environmental and emotional stressors it’s vital to keep a balance.

By implementing mindfulness-based activities that promote dopamine production into a person’s day, one can foster a steady emotional balance to handle stressful events when they occur.

An intensive outpatient program may incorporate a range of activities such as: 

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Journaling
  • Tai chi
  • Spiritual therapy
  • Good nutrition
  • Acupuncture
  • Outdoor activities
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy

The experiential and adventure-based program at Renaissance Recovery is very popular with people who attend an outpatient program at the treatment center. This activity program offers a range of sports activities that get the blood and feel-good chemicals pumping.

Replacing negative thoughts and compulsion to take substances with invigorating activities is a key step to forming new habits. The brain has plasticity, even after years of substance abuse. Once a person discovers a pursuit they enjoy they are more likely to continue that activity instead of turning to drugs or drinking.

By pursuing healthy practices that improve wellbeing a person is better able to handle life and sustain a successful recovery. 

Group counseling

IOPs rely heavily on group therapy to enhance sober behaviors, develop communication skills, introduce structure, and provide guidance. Groups can focus on different aspects of recovery, such as addiction education, relapse prevention, stress management, coping skills, life skills, interpersonal process, and support.

Peer support groups are a vital part of a person’s recovery. Listening to a person who has suffered worse struggles than oneself can be humbling and inspiring. The sense of support and camaraderie in group therapy helps a person to strengthen their resolve to maintain a successful recovery. 

Family therapy

These groups educate the family on the consequences of substance addiction on relationships and help to mend broken relationships between the user and his or her family members. 

Addiction is a family disease and family therapy sees the family unit as a cohesive whole. When one part of the family suffers an addiction it impacts other family members who unconsciously default to certain coping behaviors.

Siblings may withdraw or become gregarious in an attempt to cope with the chaos and stress of family life. Parents may try to protect the addicted person and turn to negative enabling behaviors instead of setting boundaries. 

Family therapy seeks to unite family members and encourage them to settle their differences. Many people find that family therapy is the main element that aids a successful recovery. When the family stops being a battleground, every family member benefits which promotes healing for the addicted person. 

Individual therapy

Individual therapy isn’t typically the primary form of treatment in intensive outpatient programs, but it is often used as an adjunct service. The therapist’s aim isn’t to uncover underlying issues that influence drug or alcohol abuse, but rather to rectify maladaptive behaviors.

One-to-one sessions are most suited to people who need to discuss sensitive topics or need deeper attention on particular issues.

Medication-Assisted Treatment and Management

When combined with therapy and psychosocial support, medication can be effective in promoting abstinent behavior by decreasing cravings, blocking the desired effects of substances, or treating mental health problems that contribute to drug or alcohol abuse.

For example, a person who is in recovery from opioids may be prescribed buprenorphine, naltrexone, or methadone to decrease the intensity of cravings.

Medication can also be prescribed to treat any physical ailments caused by addiction.

Drug & Alcohol Detox

Intensive outpatient programs don’t typically offer intensive detoxification services, although some programs may offer detox for those who aren’t at risk of experiencing severe and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Other programs may refer you elsewhere for detox before you are admitted to the program.

Matrix Model

This therapeutic intervention is like an education program for people who are addicted to stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. The therapist, who acts as both a coach and a teacher, creates an empowering and encouraging environment and promotes high self-esteem and self-regard.

Some treatment approaches include family education groups, skills groups, relapse prevention groups, urine tests, social support groups, drug education, self-help, relapse analysis, and 12-step programs.

Length of Treatment

Intensive outpatient programs vary in length and those seeking treatment need to assess their capabilities honestly. Treatment may range anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks. After that, the recovery process includes a maintenance phase such as sober living which could last for months. Studies have proven that the longer an individual is in treatment, the higher their probability of success.

Ideally, people attend an intensive outpatient program 3 to 5 times per week with a required minimum of 9 hours of treatment per week.

Who Should Participate in an Intensive Outpatient Program?

An intensive outpatient program isn’t right for everyone. In general, factors that make someone a good fit for an IOP include:

  • Strong support system
  • Stable home life
  • Good physical and mental health
  • Not previously engaged in an IOP
  • Low risk of relapse when returning home
  • Comfortable in a group setting

Intensive outpatient programs are often offered as an alternative to residential programs if a person’s insurance won’t cover the treatment.

Costs of Treatment

Costs of intensive outpatient programs vary wildly. Much of this depends on the location, the treatment curriculum, and associated services. Generally speaking, it’s far less than residential treatment since you don’t pay for a room or meals.

The good news is that nationwide, intensive outpatient programs are covered by almost every major insurance carrier. You can verify your insurance online to see what is covered. This makes it affordable and attainable for virtually anyone seeking addiction treatment.

Contact Renaissance Recovery

If you’re researching drug or alcohol treatment programs it can be rather bewildering.

You may initially feel that you or your loved one needs a residential treatment program, but this is not always the case. Attending an intensive outpatient program can give you the same access to treatment as a residential treatment program, particularly during the pandemic where treatment has moved to tele-health. 

Due to social distancing measures, many peer support groups and group therapy sessions are now conducted via tele-health.

The type of program that is appropriate for you or your loved one will depend on various factors such as home environment, the severity of the addiction, treatment history (if there is any), and funding status. 

Treatment modalities have varying levels of intensity, medical expertise, costs, and counseling. 

Renaissance Recovery provides a safe, scenic environment for addiction recovery. If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, consider a consultation for the following programs:

  • Alcohol addiction treatment
  • Heroin addiction treatment
  • Men’s and women’s rehab
  • Addiction therapy services
  • Dual diagnosis treatment

If you’re unsure or confused about the available options, contact Renaissance Recovery by calling 866.330.9449 for intensive outpatient programs in California.

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Renaissance Recovery Coronavirus Policy Update

As the national pandemic continues to make it increasingly difficult for individuals to receive quality aftercare, The District Recovery Community & Renaissance Recovery has provided a solution to all those seeking long term care. We are proud to announce that we will be offering all aspects of our treatment including intimate groups, one on one therapy, and case management to individuals in all states from the comfort and safety of your home. This is a great option for clients that are in need of continued treatment, but are returning home to be with their families during this time.

The District Recovery Community and Renaissance Recovery will remain in operation during this time and continue to serve our mission of treating those suffering from alcoholism and addiction.

We encourage you all to reach out to learn more about how we can work together to ensure that our clients remain sober, safe, and continue to get the help that they need.