What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program.

In most cases, the ideal first step towards a better life after addiction is through rehab. However, not all rehab is the same. Most facilities offer two types of programs, dependent on a client’s needs and circumstances.

Inpatient or residential treatment is a common choice, as it allows clients to become full-time residents at a facility dedicated to early recovery and rehab – but it’s not an applicable treatment for everybody. Many people seek help for their condition, but cannot accept the consequences of leaving life behind entirely. They have responsibilities that cannot be set aside, yet recognize that their habit has been eating into their ability to fulfill those responsibilities considerably.

For people who seek help while remaining at home and at work, intensive outpatient programs are the key.

The Differences Between an Inpatient and Outpatient Program

An inpatient treatment is typically a 30 to 90-day program in a specialized treatment facility designed to give a patient a fully-rounded rehab experience. Inpatient treatment usually begins with thorough physical detox, medically-supervised to ensure a smooth process, and then goes on towards a specialized treatment program. Different facilities offer different programs, and each facility typically employs some level of uniqueness into their treatments.

An outpatient program is an entirely different challenge. These are programs laid out for patients who wish to get better, but do not have the time to stay in a dedicated facility. In effect, an outpatient program works over longer distances, but does require frequent contact with the facility’s staff and experts. The idea behind outpatient programs is simple: provide a treatment program that works for the patient from their own life setting.

There is a difference between the overarching outpatient rehab style and an IOP (intensive outpatient program). Outpatient rehab includes both IOP and partial hospitalization, both of which have different goals. Intensive outpatient care presumes that a patient no longer requires detoxification, and works even if they have already completed an inpatient/residential treatment program.

It is ideal for people struggling with everyday life outside of rehab, and can be considered a relapse-prevention program first and foremost. A partial hospitalization offers detoxification without the constraints of full-time residential treatment, and can eventually segue into an intensive outpatient program.

What to Expect from an Outpatient Program

The general gist to most outpatient programs is that they tackle the behavioral deficiencies of most patients through group activities and individual therapies. Intensive outpatient care is designed to create a patient-tailored teaching experience, training each individual patient to deal with their life’s challenges based on the structure and responsibilities in their life.

To do this, an IOP applies a strict program onto a patient’s life, supplementing their everyday struggles with classes and lessons designed to help them adapt to life without drugs.

Substance abuse and behavioral addictions are more than a physical or chronic issue: they overtake the mind’s natural ability to deal with stress by neutering the effectiveness of what most people would consider normal coping behavior. Outpatient programs help patients learn to cope normally again, building the communication skills and behaviors necessary to:

Navigate stressful situations without using
Avoid social pressures, and participate freely in social activity without drug use
Help and seek help from others, and
Apply structure and discipline in all aspects of life

While different treatment facilities offer various kinds of intensive outpatient care, there is an overarching formula used by most IOPs to provide the right level of training.

The Group Aspect of Intensive Outpatient Treatment

An incredibly important part of any intensive outpatient programming is the group aspect. Group activities, regular group meetings and group therapy all play a part in IOP, where they help patients through:

Creating an opportunity for communication with other individuals struggling with sobriety
Building group-related social skills, including assertiveness, stress management and drug refusal
Learning to adapt to, inspect and resolve conflicts without hasty decision-making or violence
Practicing pragmatism and logical, positive thinking

Group therapy is the ideal learning space for coping with addiction, as patients can relate to one another and connect despite possible differences.

The Individual Aspect of Intensive Outpatient Treatment

Individual therapy is extremely important, regardless of what stage in recovery someone is. Having someone to privately relate to and talk to about emotions, oddities and worries helps eliminate the chances of a relapse by creating a safe space to throw out feelings and resolve inner conflicts. Individual therapy helps patients by:

Creating a trusted environment to tackle fears and worries
Tackling negative emotions and develop ways of dealing with self-doubt
Fostering a therapist-patient connection

Individual therapy is the right place to tackle the unique circumstances and problems patients face that may not be relevant or effectively addressed in a group setting.

Why You Might Want to Choose an Outpatient Program

The circumstances ideal for an IOP are simple: if you’re past the initial stage of recovery, and have completely detoxified, but are still struggling with your thoughts and sobriety in the face of all of life’s different challenges, then an IOP will help you manage your feelings, tackle life effectively, and be socially competent without fearing a relapse or resorting to your old compulsive behaviors.

Outpatient programs recognize that patients have lives to lead, lives that cannot be interrupted for months at a time. A proper intensive outpatient program will even help you manage not just your addiction, but your mental health issues as well, specifically in how they may be tied to your addiction. Both depression/manic depression and major anxiety are common in people struggling with drugs, as are symptoms of trauma and OCD.

Group therapies most effectively address the pressing issues faced by people struggling with addiction, while individual therapy allows them to dig deeper into the personal reasons behind their feelings and behavior, helping patients unravel their own mysteries and understand why they may feel a certain way. This self-understanding is critical for long-term sobriety, and achieving a sense of security in recovery can be a massive milestone for those on their journey to long-term abstinence from drugs.

Choosing an outpatient program will in no way lessen the quality of your recovery treatment – instead, it is simply a more ideal option for those looking for further treatment after rehab, or for patients who require a schedule that allows them to attend to home and work-related responsibilities.