The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that approximately 22.5 million Americans meet the criteria for addiction treatment. Each of these individuals have their own set of unique care needs, some requiring a more intense and immersive level of treatment, such as what’s provided in an inpatient long-term or residential program; others can get the help they need through outpatient treatment resources that allow them to heal while staying seamlessly involved in their careers, families, and day-to-day lifestyle. Intensive outpatient (IOP) addiction treatment programs offer the flexibility of an outpatient treatment program with a more intense and long-term program duration.
Much like regular outpatient treatment, IOP programs allow patients to attend multiple treatment sessions per week, each of which last about two to three hours at a time. The primary difference between regular outpatient programs and IOP programs is the number of sessions per week and the length of treatment sessions offered. Patients can live at home and receive targeted, in-depth care from treatment experts. Many studies, including a recent survey from Oregon Health and Science University, indicate that IOP treatment outcomes are on par with residential treatment services.
As of 2011, 6,089 programs in the United States reported offering IOP, according to data from SAMHSA. In the wake of the recent opioid epidemic, this number has expanded exponentially.
Some of the primary services offered in intensive outpatient addiction treatment programs include, but are not limited to:
IOP programs can either be offered as primary treatment or as an extension of residential care.
Most IOP programs last between three and four months and include several three- to five-hour sessions per week compared to regular outpatient programs that last about half that long. Program duration and intensity will often dissipate according to a patient’s individual progress. A Yale University study found that rates of first-month drop-out in outpatient substance abuse treatment programs are approximately 30 percent and drop-out prior to three months can be 50 percent or more. Data from SAMHSA’s Treatment Improvement Protocol on IOP reveals that this treatment model helps improve patient retention and follow-through with their addiction treatment program.
While IOP treatment is a viable model for a wide variety of patients, the reality is that it is not for everyone. Patients with a years’-long and more intense history of uninterrupted substance abuse may do better in a residential treatment program.
IOP programs may be ideal for patients who:
Patients who are the products of toxic or dysfunctional circumstances are at an increased vulnerability to relapse and should remove themselves from their everyday lives to focus on their recovery and escape negative influence.
Most intensive outpatient addiction treatment programs are covered, at least partially, by employer-based health insurance. Patients on Medicaid can also avail themselves of the program. No matter what type of treatment you or your loved one may need, whether it’s IOP, residential, or long-term, the most important thing is to get help immediately to repair your life. Intensive outpatient treatment programs offer the flexibility and targeted care that many patients need to get themselves on track and into recovery.
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