Introduction to Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program

Introduction to Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program

When struggling with addiction, an individual is faced with an enormous amount of stress. From trying to cope with the physical detox of a substance to reprogramming one’s mental processing to avoid the addictive cycle, even the most minute task or chore may seem daunting and unattainable. Choosing an appropriate therapy or treatment program should not add to this nerve-racking period. Upon evaluation from a physician or clinical therapist, a patient should be informed about several different types of treatment programs based on their needs, goals, and diagnosis. One such program is Intensive Outpatient Treatment.

Intensive outpatient treatment programs (IOPs) are excellent alternatives to inpatient therapy, and they are geared for individuals who need an intermediate level of care. IOPs became quite popular in the 1980s during the height of the cocaine-addiction era and often act as the transitional step between inpatient hospitalization and more moderate one-on-one weekly therapy sessions. IOP treatment programs are used to treat a variety of addictive and behavioral problems, but the primary type of treatment is for individuals with a chemical dependency.

Although each intensive outpatient treatment program is specific to the facility where the treatment is performed, they tend to follow a universal model. Outpatient plans usually last for anywhere between three weeks to three months. During this time, the patient participates in group therapy sessions two to five times a week based on their needs and is often complemented with a weekly one-on-one session with a psychiatrist or clinical therapist. Patients follow a basic curriculum plan that focuses on topics such as understanding their illness, learning how to cope with any shame or guilt related to their addiction, and finding ways to rebuild relationships that have been affected by the addiction.

A weekly family therapy session is often encouraged to help explore the family dynamic; for patients who have drug users or alcoholics in their family, establishing new relationships is stressed. Patients also learn coping and stress management skills that are needed to help prevent relapse. Patients may or may not be prescribed medication, but for those who are, the medication is closely monitored.

In addition to the actual recovery from an addiction, there are other advantages associated with intensive outpatient treatments. Patients are allowed to live at home given that it is a secure, non-threatening environment. Many individuals can also work while undergoing treatment and, by doing so, slowly integrate normal activities into their daily life. The program is also designed specifically for each individual and focuses on the problems they are facing right now.

Upon graduating from an intensive outpatient program, individuals should feel stronger and more adept at dealing with stressful situations without resorting to drugs or alcohol. They should also have a better sense of who they are sans their addiction and be able to set and achieve goals. Individuals are encouraged to obtain a sponsor, an experienced member who commits themselves to help others throughout the recovery process, as well as attend outside group therapy sessions such as Alcohol Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

Intensive outpatient treatment programs are widely available, and most are covered by health insurance. If you or a loved one is fighting an addiction, contact your primary care physician about being referred to a treatment program.


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