Intensive Outpatient Program | The Whats, Whys, and Hows

intensive outpatient program

We all make mistakes and poor decisions, some leading to addiction and other degenerative habits. But the important thing is that we always aim towards recovery. One way to help people release themselves from chains of addiction is through an intensive outpatient program (IOP). Of course, it’s equally important that they decide to seek help and have the will to see the treatments through. 

In this article, we’ll talk about IOP and how it can help people can improve their addiction recoveries and work towards a brighter future ahead of them.


What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

This is a drug recovery program that aims to help addicts fight their addiction without directly involving medical intervention. Aside from drug addiction, IOP can also help people with depression and eating disorders. When you join an IOP, it’s a requirement to attend classes or sessions depending on your needs.

IOP is referred to as “intensive” because sessions tend to be longer and frequent. Sessions usually occur four to five days a week and last for about three to four hours. At the same time, IOP is the last available program that doesn’t involve clinical interventions. Succeeding treatments would require hospitalization or inpatient services to attend to the needs of the patient.


What are the Stages of Addiction Treatment?

To give you a bird’s eye view of addiction treatment, let’s briefly discuss the stages of addiction treatment. According to The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Continuum, there are five addiction treatment stages.

Level 0.5: Early Intervention

This treatment even is suitable to help people who are at a high risk of developing substance-related problems. Moreover, this level is also the stepping-stone for people whose issues are yet to be diagnosed. At this level, the patient is said to be relatively stable with no withdrawal risk.

Level 1: Outpatient Services

Outpatient services are specifically designated for people who need a mild level of care involving treatments and sessions of less than nine hours per week. Treatments involve motivational recoupments, strategies, and enhancement therapies. There is also no risk of withdrawal at this level of care.

Level 2: Intensive Outpatient Services/Partial Hospitalization Services

Level 2 care comprises two sublevels: sublevels 2.1 and 2.5. The intensive outpatient program belongs to level 2.1, wherein the patient will undergo intensive sessions of more than nine hours per week. Patients at this level are at risk of withdrawal but are stable. 

Level 2.5 is called partial hospitalization services, covering more than 20 hours of sessions and treatments for multidimensional instability. There is also a risk of withdrawal at this stage, but patients here are stable.

Level 3: Residential or Inpatient Services

Level 3 care is the inpatient program wherein patients need 24 hours of monitoring and treatment in a designated facility. Aside from medical interventions, patients under level 3 care will also undergo sessions similar to IOP patients. This level is subdivided into sublevels 3.1, 3.3, 3.5, and 3.7, which vary depending on the gravity of the patient’s conditions.

Level 4: Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient Services

Level 4 is the last stage that handles the most severe cases. Patients at this level are at a high risk of withdrawal and require 24 hours of medical and nursing care. Moreover, they are also unstable, requiring 24-hour psychiatric care.


How Does an IOP Program Work?

Being a level 2 type of care, IOP conducted with outpatients is just the same with inpatients. The main difference here is that outpatients typically don’t have to undergo a detox program. However, an IOP is also a personalized treatment plan. Being assigned to an IOP is not your choice.

Instead, health care professionals will conduct assessment activities to determine your level. The ASAM Continuum identifies five dimensions in assigning levels of care for patients:

  1. Acute Intoxication and/or Withdrawal Potential
  2. Biomedical Conditions and Complications
  3. Emotional, Behavioral or Cognitive Conditions and Complications 
    1. Dangerousness/Lethality
    2. Social Functioning
    3. Ability for Self-Care
    4. Course of Illness
  4. Readiness to Change
  5. Relapse, Continued Use, Or Continued Problem Potential
  6. Recovery/Living Environment


For IOP, the following the dimension criteria for adult care:

Minimal risk of severe withdrawal. Manageable at level 2-WM None or not a distraction from treatment.  Mildly severe, with potential for distraction  Variable engagement with the treatment  Intensified symptoms can mean a high probability of relapse and therefore requires close monitoring  An unsupportive recovery environment is not ideal, but the patient can make do with support and relief from the home 

What To Expect in an IOP Program?

IOP varies from one facility to another. However, while IOP is also an addiction recovery program, it doesn’t involve clinical intervention. Instead, IOP will mainly include personality enhancement exercises to keep the patient motivated and inspired to continue treatment. 

According to the Substance Abuse Medical Health Services Administration, IOPs must establish the following goals:

  1. Establish abstinence to patients
  2. Inspire patients to undergo a lifestyle change and develop new behaviors supporting abstinence
  3. Participate in community-based support systems
  4. Identity psychosocial problems
  5. Build a positive support network
  6. Develop the patient’s coping and problem-solving skills

Patients are to attend IOP, classes, sessions, meetings, and workshops, which are typically scheduled throughout the day, which is why it’s called an intensive program. Also, the exact number of hours that an individual will spend per day will vary, depending on the severity of the addiction. On average, however, expect to attend the programs for around three to four hours per day for about five days a week. 


Still Asking Siri for an “Intensive Outpatient Program Near Me?”

Well, if you live in the Long Beach area, there’s no need to look further than Roots Through Recovery. Our team of healthcare professionals is here to provide any necessary care and assistance as you take on this brave journey towards addiction treatment and recovery. We offer a robust, yet tailored intensive outpatient program. Call us now at 562-275-3498 or fill out our contact form to get started. 

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