Is an IOP Right for You
Published On: April 20, 2017|Categories: Treatment|

If you’ve been researching treatment options for a substance use disorder, you may be considering an intensive outpatient program. This unique form of treatment allows individuals to participate in intensive therapy and make progress in their recovery while living at home.

In terms of intensity and flexibility, an IOP can be classified as somewhere between residential and outpatient treatment. Patients do not live on-site, but they participate in more therapy than an outpatient program. While intensive outpatient treatment is ideal for many people, it’s not the best choice for everyone.

How an IOP Works

An intensive outpatient program offers clients some flexibility in their scheduling choices, and both day and evening sessions are usually available. Most IOPs meet at least a few times a week.1

The program will provide you with a customized treatment plan that fits your unique needs, including a combination of individual therapy, educational workshops and group counseling. During both individual and group therapy, clients work on reinforcing their coping skills, learning how to manage cravings and practicing stress-reduction techniques.

Understanding the Benefits

There are many reasons why people prefer to address their addiction through an IOP. One of the most valuable benefits of an IOP is its flexibility. This form of treatment allows you to fit therapy sessions into your existing schedule, giving you time to meet the demands of family and work.

An IOP allows your loved ones to join you in family counseling sessions. Family therapy is an effective way to open the lines of communication with your loved ones and help them understand how they can best support you in your recovery journey.

Another unique feature of an IOP is that it gives clients the chance to practice the skills and strategies they learn in treatment right away. Putting your coping skills into practice outside of therapy helps you master these techniques and incorporate them into your daily life.

Making the Choice

Intensive outpatient treatment offers multiple benefits to clients, but it’s not the right form of treatment for everyone. An IOP will be most effective if at least one of these criteria apply to you:2

  • You’re transitioning out of a residential addiction treatment program
  • You haven’t been progressing with traditional outpatient treatment
  • You have work or family obligations that make it hard for you to be away from home for weeks or months at a time


In an IOP, mental health issues are often treated in conjunction with addiction. Treating both of these conditions simultaneously is important for many clients who are struggling with co-occurring psychological and substance use disorders.

However, not everyone with co-occurring disorders will be a good candidate for intensive outpatient treatment. For example, if you’ve been struggling with an eating disorder and need support during meals, an IOP won’t be the best fit for you. An IOP is also not a good choice for clients who have medical issues that must be addressed before they can begin addiction treatment.

Addiction is a complex disorder. It can vary greatly in severity, and no two cases are exactly alike. It’s important to choose a treatment program that meets your individual needs. For many people, an IOP is the ideal solution, balancing the intensive support of an inpatient program with the flexibility of outpatient treatment. An IOP allows clients to rebuild their lives and work on their recovery skills while living at home and attending to their obligations.


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