Treatment in an inpatient facility, a residential facility or a partial hospitalization facility is often significantly more intensive than treatment in most outpatient programs. However, not everyone is able to reside at a treatment facility for their recovery, and other individuals may not require 24-hour supervision but may still require extensive care. Intensive outpatient therapy programs can be a great alternative in these situations.
What Is Intensive Outpatient Treatment?
Intensive outpatient treatment programs (IOP) are significantly more involved than standard outpatient treatment. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) issued a joint policy statement that described IOPs as programs in which clients do not live at the same institution where they receive treatment and also receive six to 30 hours of treatment per week. IOP treatment is usually administered three to five times per week. A partial hospitalization program is formally defined as one in which the treatment intensity is six hours or more per day.
Clients complete an initial evaluation prior to being admitted to a program to establish the severity of their substance use disorders and to identify any co-occurring issues that must be treated additionally. Personnel overseeing the treatment should be licensed professional providers with experience in the treatment of addictive behaviors.
The treatment follows a structured strategy based on the initial assessment, and subsequently created treatment plan, and keeps in touch with the client until the treatment is completed. The providers and plan ensure that the client receives the best possible care. This should include empirically validated treatment approaches including therapy, medication-assisted treatment and supplementary support such as 12-step groups.
A normal IOP will include at least nine hours of treatment per week, delivered three days per week (three hours per day) and will last a minimum of 90 days. Depending on the requirements of the individual, treatment may be more intense and continue longer.
Who Is A Good Candidate For An IOP?
Intensive outpatient therapy was designed for people who need to attend outpatient therapy but also require the type of intensive treatment provided by residential programs. For example, someone who is unable to attend a residential treatment program due to family or employment obligations may still benefit from the same level of treatment while remaining able to meet their personal responsibilities.
Certain types of people may benefit from an IOP. Among them are the following:
- Individuals who have recently been discharged from an inpatient, residential or partial hospitalization facility.
- Those who do not require constant supervision but can benefit from extensive treatment sessions
- Those who require intense therapy but are unable to afford it in a residential or inpatient setting
- People who have two or more disorders at the same time, also known as co-occurring disorders (for example: a substance use disorder with a mental health disorder, such as major depressive disorder)
- Extenuating situations including domestic issues, substantial life stressors, a lack of family support or a history of multiple efforts of recovery and relapse.
- People who are unsure about their capacity to recover successfully using a standard outpatient treatment method.
Some people may not be suitable for placement in an IOP if they have serious co-occurring mental health illnesses or are exposed to harmful environments. When discussing the results of the initial assessment the individual, along with their physician and therapists, should decide whether to enroll in a residential program or an IOP.
The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Intensive Outpatient Therapy
Intensive outpatient therapy has a number of benefits and drawbacks, including:
- A more substantial time commitment; the individual will have less free time.
- An IOP will have a higher cost than regular outpatient treatment, but it will be less expensive than residential or inpatient care.
- For some persons with supportive home environments, being able to return home following therapy can be a good factor. It could be a disadvantage for someone who lives alone or does not have much support at home.
- Being in an IOP allows a person to continue working or attending school, which can be a positive or negative depending on the individual’s condition.
- IOPs have been determined to be as beneficial as inpatient and residential treatment programs in the majority of cases, however it all depends on the individual in recovery.
People with several complicating difficulties will do better in a residential treatment program or inpatient program at first, then move to an IOP once their situation has stabilized.
Before committing to an IOP, people should consider where they are in their recovery. Someone going through withdrawal, for example, would benefit from a medical detox program or inpatient treatment. An IOP may be more appropriate once the person has established a period of sobriety and has successfully navigated the early phases of recovery.
Early recovery patients should defer to treatment experts and family members who believe they would be more successful in a residential unit or inpatient setting. For example, research reveals that greater IOP attrition rates are linked to the severity of a person’s substance addiction problem, implying that people with more serious substance abuse problems leave these programs at a higher rate. These individuals may require the more stringent monitoring and structure found in a residential unit.
Some persons, on the other hand, may not require the intensive treatment provided in an IOP, especially those who have effectively completed the withdrawal process and developed a good recovery program. Again, treatment providers and family members should be trusted.
Individuals with toxic home settings, such as issues with a partner or marital violence, or those who live in locations where substance addiction is prevalent, may not find that rigorous outpatient therapy initially meets their needs. These people frequently need to remove themselves from stressful settings in order to focus on their recovery. Although an IOP provides rigorous therapy, it does not provide protection from a toxic, stressful environment that may encourage recurrence.
Intensive Outpatient Therapy: How Much Does It Cost?
Finally, cost is always an additional key factor to consider. Even those with excellent insurance policies will frequently incur some type of out-of-pocket payment as a result of treatment. Traditional outpatient treatment, in which a person attends treatment sessions for only a few hours per week, will be less expensive than the higher cost associated with the length of time a person must commit to an IOP. However, the cost should only be considered if the person and their treatment providers believe they would do nearly as well in an IOP as they would in a typical outpatient program.
If the person’s treatment professionals suggest that he or she participate in an IOP, the person should do so. When it comes to obtaining treatment for any substance use issue, the cost-benefit analysis is always in support of the benefit side of the issue. In the long run, receiving the best therapy is always less expensive than trying to get the cheapest treatment. Contact the caring professionals at Aquila Recovery to begin your recovery process.