Unfortunately, it’s a familiar situation for many. Residential treatment is finished, you’re fresh out of rehab, and suddenly your worst fears come true: you relapse. Why do you—and so many others—keep failing at rehab?
Step Down Your Level of Care
The key to making rehab a long-term success is to step down your level of care, from residential inpatient therapy to an intensive outpatient program and then to an outpatient program. This allows you to test out increasing levels of independence as your sobriety skills strengthen, preventing you from ending up in a situation where you suddenly have no support.
Transition From Residential Treatment to IOP
An IOP provides therapy and services for people seeking recovery from substance use disorders or dual diagnoses—co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders—within a structured environment that shares many similarities with residential treatment. IOPs strengthen recovery efforts by providing psychological and social support systems. They also offer relapse prevention strategies and coping techniques for handling cravings. 1 Without this critical support, the risk of relapse is higher when you’re fresh out of residential treatment.
Just as with a residential program, an IOP addresses your progress and challenges on a day-to-day basis, giving you the tools you’ll need to stay abstinent but while also dealing with the stresses and triggers of regular life. An IOP provides individual and group therapy, helping you to find effective relapse management strategies. This is critical right after residential rehab, and it ensures that you have the support you need to maintain your sobriety.
IOPs offer a set number of hours of services each week. Most states require IOPs to offer at least nine hours per week. Some programs provide more sessions per week, and many programs become less intense the longer you’re in the program. Because services are provided in an outpatient setting, you’re continuing treatment while living at home. This helps you to transition smoothly into independence and involvement in the community while still receiving support.
After IOP Comes an Outpatient Program
Once you’ve completed an intensive outpatient program, it’s important to step down to an outpatient program that provides the continued care that’s so important to your ongoing success. OPs provide treatment for substance use and co-occurring disorders, but at a less intense level than an IOP. A reputable and effective OP provides the same quality of services as an IOP, but offered in a less-structured environment with fewer hours of treatment each week.
Sessions are regularly scheduled and typically total fewer than nine hours per week. 2 A common schedule would include one or two weekly individual therapy sessions, weekly group therapy meetings or a mix of the two. Support group attendance is part of an OP, such as attending AA or NA meetings on a regular basis.
For many, involvement in support groups becomes a sobriety mainstay that they attend for a lifetime. Every relapse has warning signs, and continual reminders of how to cope with cravings and prevent relapse as well as staying connected with a rewarding and healthy life makes support groups an invaluable resource to long-term sobriety.
Why IOP and OP Are So Important After Residential Rehab
Stop failing at rehab, and set yourself up for success in sobriety by transitioning your care from residential treatment to an IOP and then an OP. Taking the time to step down from inpatient rehab to an intensive outpatient program followed by an outpatient program can prevent you from having to repeat any of it.