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Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs (IOP Programs) for Substance Use Disorders

You may be wondering, ‘what is intensive outpatient treatment?’ An intensive outpatient addiction program (IOP) is a type of treatment that offers structure while allowing a person to keep living at home. Some people may begin with an intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment program, or it could be a part of step-down care following inpatient treatment. Regardless of when a person enters IOP treatment, it can be a valuable part of a person’s recovery journey.

Below you will find the following information about IOPs:

What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP Program) Like?

Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs (IOP Programs) are outpatient addiction recovery programs that provide a more structured, intensive level of care for people with “multi-dimensional instabilities”, such as co-occurring disorders.6

You may be wondering how long outpatient treatment programs last. People in IOP addiction treatment may be required to spend more hours per week in treatment, or receive more supervision, than they benefit from in other forms of outpatient treatment – generally between 9 and 19 hours per week.1, 6

Like other outpatient alcohol and drug rehab programs, IOP rehabs allow people to continue living at home and going to work and school for the duration of treatment. Intensive outpatient treatment for substance abuse can be used as a follow-up after the detoxification process, as a primary form of treatment or as part of a continuing care plan for someone who has completed an inpatient rehab program. While IOP programs can be a person’s primary type of care, some people may transition to an IOP rehab program after completing inpatient treatment. This is in order to continue building their coping skills and so that they can receive counseling and other services to help maintain sobriety and decrease the risk of relapse.

You can contact American Addiction Centers (AAC) for more information on finding outpatient treatment programs that match your individual requirements. Call us for free at for help locating the best rehab centers for your needs.

What’s the Difference Between Inpatient and Intensive Outpatient Programs?

The most notable difference between inpatient care and intensive outpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs is that inpatient or residential rehab programs require that a person lives at the facility. Intensive outpatient rehab programs allow a person to go home after their daily treatment sessions.

Inpatient programs can last 28 or 30 days, 60 days, 90 days or more long-term, depending on the level of care a person needs. Since a person has to live at an inpatient facility, it may be difficult for them to stay away from home for an extended period of time. This is when an outpatient program for rehab treatment may be helpful, provided it’s the appropriate level of care for that person.

Intensive outpatient rehab programs allow people to schedule treatment services at times that work better with their schedule. The amount of time a person spends at the intensive outpatient addiction treatment facility per week will vary depending on several factors, such as the substance being misused and the services they require.

Most IOP drug treatment programs offer similar services to inpatient programs such as detox, therapy and mutual support groups.

What Happens During Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Substance Abuse and Addiction?

Upon entering an intensive outpatient program, you will be assessed and will work with a treatment team that may consist of mental healthcare practitioners, treatment professionals, doctors, therapists or nurses, depending on the level of care you’ll be receiving.

The team will work with you to create an intensive outpatient drug treatment plan based on your intake evaluation and individual needs. Below are several common services offered in IOP programs:

Group Counseling

Intensive outpatient treatment, and other forms of addiction treatment, often use group therapy to enhance positive, healthy behaviors, develop communication skills, introduce structure and provide guidance.2 Groups can focus on different aspects of recovery, such as addiction education, relapse prevention, stress management, coping skills, life skills, interpersonal process and support.2

Family Therapy

In family therapy, family members and loved ones work together with a therapist to help mend broken relationships, improve the home environment and help family members better understand the nature of alcohol and drug addiction.4 Both the person struggling with addiction and their family members may receive assignments to help practice new behaviors at home and set reasonable goals to encourage positive behavior changes.4

Individual Therapy

During individual therapy, a person will work with their therapist to uncover underlying issues that influence drug or alcohol misuse and create new patterns of behavior.

Medication Management

Medication can be effective in helping a person through withdrawal, promoting abstinent behaviors by decreasing cravings, blocking the desired effects of substances or treating co-occurring mental health conditions that may contribute to substance abuse. Medication can also be prescribed to treat some physical ailments caused by addiction.

Drug and Alcohol Detoxification

Some IOP services may offer detoxification services for those who aren’t at risk for experiencing severe and dangerous withdrawal symptoms associated with certain substances. The detox process is an important first phase of treatment for addiction. However, detox alone is not typically sufficient treatment for a person to maintain long-term abstinence and recovery.5 It’s important for you and the treatment team at the intensive outpatient program to discuss continuing care after the detox phase.

Matrix Model

This therapeutic intervention is commonly used to treat addiction to stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. The therapist, who acts as both a coach and a teacher, creates an empowering and encouraging environment and promotes high self-esteem and self-regard. Some treatment approaches include family education groups, skills groups, relapse prevention groups, urine tests, social support groups, drug education, self-help, relapse analysis and 12-Step programs.3

How Long Do IOP Programs Last?

Intensive outpatient treatment varies in duration, which may range anywhere from a few weeks to months, depending on the treatment plan created by you and your treatment team.

A person may attend treatment for anywhere from 9 to 19 hours per week and programs are typically available throughout the day, on weekends and after school or work to help accommodate people’s schedules.6

Who Can Benefit From IOP Treatment Programs?

If you or a loved one is considering intensive outpatient treatment, it’s important to remember that no matter what type of treatment you choose, individualized care is key to promoting long-term abstinence and recovery.5 Additionally, your treatment team should continue to evaluate your progress in order to readjust your treatment plan as needed.5 This may mean stepping down care to less intensive treatment or stepping up into a more structured and supportive environment.5

In general, factors that make someone a good fit for an IOP therapy program include people with:

  • A strong support system at home, work and in the community.
  • Stability in their home.
  • No previous engagement in an IOP.
  • Lower risk of relapse when returning home.
  • Comfort working in group settings.
  • No risk of severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Jobs or school responsibilities that require flexibility with their schedule.

How Much Do IOP Addiction Treatment Programs Cost?

Generally, an IOP treatment program costs less than an inpatient recovery program because it doesn’t provide food or housing. The cost of treatment for an IOP program will vary depending on several factors like:

Most insurance companies offer some level of coverage to treat substance use disorders (SUDs). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) considers substance use disorder services an essential health benefit, which means that many private insurance companies opt to cover treatment for SUDs to align with the ACA.7 Coverage through Medicaid and Medicare should also apply to treatment, as long as the treatment facility accepts your particular plan.

Use the form below to determine whether your insurance provider will cover rehabilitation.

How to Pay for Intensive Outpatient Programs for Substance Use Disorders

Paying for addiction treatment can seem overwhelming. Treatment costs can be high; however, there are several ways to help pay for intensive outpatient rehab programs if you don’t have insurance or your insurance plan doesn’t provide full coverage:

  • Payment plan/sliding scale: Many treatment centers understand financial hardships and allow you to create a customized payment plan based on what you can realistically afford.
  • Financing options: Some facilities may offer financing to help pay for treatment. Contact a facility representative to discuss what options they may have as they will vary depending on the program and facility.
  • Grants and scholarships: Some facilities may offer grants or scholarships to those who qualify and are in need of low-cost or free rehab.

How to Find an Intensive Outpatient Program Near Me

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or chemical dependency, know that you don’t have to suffer alone. American Addiction Centers offers a free, confidential helpline. You can contact us at to help you find treatment at any time, day or night.

You may be wondering, ‘are there IOP programs near me?’ or ‘how can I find the best IOP treatment near me?’ You might be seeking rehabilitation in Florida, California, Massachusetts, Georgia, Virginia, Colorado, Maryland or any other US State. Our compassionate team of admissions navigators will help you locate IOP alcohol and drug treatment centers near your home address or in desired locations. They understand what it’s like to struggle with addiction and are ready to help you start on the path toward recovery. If you have insurance and want to know if treatment is covered at an AAC facility, we can help you quickly check your coverage so you can start treatment today.