Outpatient treatment programs are exactly that; recovery programs that allow the individual to reside at home while they are in treatment. Outpatient treatment is an excellent option for those who have a mild to moderate substance use disorder. In addition, outpatient treatment functions as a step-down level of care for those who have completed a residential program and have entered recovery.
Outpatient programs are available in different levels of intensity and generally focus on therapy, education, and providing a support network. The person’s recovery needs will determine the level of intensity required. Here we will discuss the difference between basic outpatient treatment and the intensive outpatient program (IOP).
What is Outpatient Treatment?
Basic outpatient services offer an ideal option for people who have completed a higher level of outpatient treatment or a residential treatment program. Outpatient treatment provides basic recovery services, such as individual and group therapy sessions, classes, and Twelve Step integration. Outpatient programs offer many of the same treatment elements as a residential program does, but at a much lower level of intensity.
As a step-down from a residential treatment program, outpatient treatment is an essential part of the aftercare strategy. Individuals are advised to continue accessing outpatient therapy and other outpatient services on a regular basis following residential treatment. Ongoing therapy can protect the person from the risk of relapse during the early months of recovery. It offers the support and guidance that can help the individual navigate challenges faced during this vulnerable period.
What is an Intensive Outpatient Program?
Generally, there are two settings for receiving substance use treatment, the residential and outpatient options. An intensive outpatient program (IOP) provides an alternative to residential treatment. Residential treatment involves an extended stay at a treatment center where the individual will be provided housing while receiving ongoing treatment, support, and monitoring. The IOP offers treatment in an outpatient setting that allows them to reside at home.
The IOP has a treatment structure that can accommodate work and family obligations. An IOP provides a host of therapeutic activities for a set number of hours during the week, while allowing the individual to reside at home, or in sober living, outside of treatment hours. IOP programs can serve as a first line treatment for those with emerging or mild addiction issues, or as aftercare following a completed residential program.
How Outpatient Programs are Structured
The IOP is a part-time treatment program that typically requires the individual to participate for a set number of hours per week. The curriculum of each IOP can vary depending on the focus and philosophy of the program. The IOP does not provide detox services, but will instead refer the person to a local detox program. Once detox is completed, the individual is ready to begin the IOP schedule.
An IOP is structured with a weekly schedule that includes three three-hour blocks of therapy, or nine hours of programming. The IOP begins with an individualized treatment plan that identifies benchmarks for the person to meet during the course of treatment.
The IOP usually lasts for three or four months. Once the IOP has been completed, the individual will step down to basic outpatient aftercare, which involves one or two therapy sessions or classes per week.
Intensive Outpatient Program Treatment Elements
Psychotherapy is the centerpiece of the IOP. The program will emphasize individual and group therapy, and guide the person towards healthier thought and behavior patterns. It is very difficult to overcome a substance use disorder without making fundamental changes in these patterns. In addition to the psychotherapy, an IOP will include other therapies or activities that complement the therapy sessions.
IOP treatment elements include:
- Psychotherapy, including evidence-based therapies like CBT and DBT
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Recovery skills and relapse prevention planning
- Substance education
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Twelve-Step program
- Nutrition and fitness counseling
- Medication Supported Recovery (MSR)
- Mindfulness training
- Art therapy
In general, outpatient treatment, whether it is basic outpatient therapy or an IOP, offers individuals an alternative to residential treatment, or a step-down level of care following residential treatment. By using the information above you will be able to decide which program is the best fit for your recovery needs.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders and is accredited by The Joint Commission. We offer both inpatient and outpatient programs, holistic addiction treatment, drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to heal each individual with respect and dignity, and reflects on our ongoing commitment to meet new challenges. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.