What Are the Components of an Intensive Outpatient Program?

clients in outpatient therapy

It used to be that addicts were simply considered to be bad people, weak of will and character, willfully selfish and self-destructive. In fact, this outdated consensus is why addiction is still so widely criminalized and many addicts today receive prison sentences rather than the treatments they need to overcome the disease. Fortunately, we have a much more enlightened understanding of addiction today. The disease of addiction is both similar to and different from many other diseases. While it causes a number of physical health effects, it also affects one’s psychology and development in ways that many other diseases don’t. This makes alcohol and drug addiction a very complicated affliction that can be quite difficult to overcome.

One of the benefits to having attained such an enlightened understanding of the disease of addiction is that we’re better able to treat the condition today. The addiction treatment programming available at facilities all across the country—and even the world—offer a wide variety of treatments than can be incorporated into each addict’s recovery curriculum based on which treatments address one’s specific recovery needs. However, while there exists a great variety of individual treatments, there are also different types of programs as well. Intensive outpatient programs are one type of recovery programming that has become popular recently for a number of reasons. The following will define intensive outpatient programs and break it down into its individual components.

What Exactly Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

outpatient programs

Most addiction treatment programs fall onto a spectrum that ranges from outpatient to inpatient. On the one end, inpatient programs are typically considered the most effective and intensive form of recovery treatment as they require patients to reside on-side within the facility for the duration of treatment, which can last up to a several months or even longer in extended-care programs. In contrast, outpatient programs are less intensive and allow patients to continue living in their home environments while attending treatments on a daily basis. Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) fall about halfway between the two, offering a treatment intensity that’s more similar to the level offered by an inpatient program while still being an outpatient program. These programs are typically three days per week for a minimum of around four hours per day. The reason that some individuals prefer intensive outpatient programs over forms of inpatient treatment is the flexibility that these programs usually afford; instead of having to explain a prolonged absence from work or school, individuals in intensive outpatient treatment can usually incorporate their recovery into their existing schedules by working treatment around their obligations.

Individual Counseling & Psychotherapy

As the core of virtually all types of recovery programming, individual counseling sessions and psychotherapy are a major part of the rehabilitation process for a couple key reasons. It’s during these individual counseling sessions that individuals learn some of the underlying factors that contributed to or caused their addictions. In particular, this entails learning about how one’s prior experiences, thought patterns, emotions, and attitudes have affected or influenced their addictions. Individuals also learn healthier and more productive cognitions that can help to prevent relapse in the future. Since intensive outpatient programs are relatively short-term treatments, the individual counseling received in these programs is often based on tenets of cognitive behavioral and motivational enhancement therapies. By utilizing these techniques, individuals gain an understanding of how they can prevent their negative, maladaptive behaviors with positive thought patterns and by utilizing a variety of emotional coping strategies.

Group Sessions

When individuals think of alcohol and drug rehabs, they often imagine group sessions consisting of recovering addicts sitting in a circle and discussing their substance abuse triggers. Group therapy is a mainstay of most addiction treatment programs, including intensive outpatient treatment. In fact, many would consider group therapy as the crux of an intensive outpatient program since it provides each patient with a means of developing positive communication and socialization skills, allows individuals the benefit of establishing and participating in a peer-support environment, affords a level of structure and routine, allows patients who are further allow in the recovery process to lend their experience to those who are in the earlier stages of recovery, and is an effective mode for patients to learn a variety of useful skills and behaviors. Moreover, there are numerous types of groups in which patients in intensive outpatient programs participate, including skills-building groups, interpersonal process groups, psychoeducational groups, and process-oriented support groups.

Addiction & Psychoeducational Sessions

These types of sessions are more focused on simply transmitting valuable information to patients in recovery treatment. In order to be successful in recovery, it’s essential for individuals to have a thorough knowledge of the disease of addiction and many related psychological processes, which is why educational sessions are a major part of intensive outpatient programs. These sessions either teach valuable information to patients or inform them where they can find important information as they progress into later stages of recovery. Moreover, individuals are often encouraged to participate in discussions during addiction and psychoeducational sessions since it helps them to relate topics to their personal experiences. Another reason that these educational sessions are a valuable part of intensive outpatient treatment is because they help individuals to learn what to expect as they progress in their individual recoveries and how they can apply some of the knowledge and skills obtained from treatment to attain a long-lasting sobriety..

Dual-Diagnosis & Medicinal Management

Individuals who suffer from addiction as well as a co-occurring, or comorbid, disorder require what is referred to as dual-diagnosis support, which means that their recovery programming has been personalized in such a way as to incorporate treatment for their secondary diagnoses. Since one diagnosis is often related to a comorbid diagnosis in some way, dual-diagnosis support is instrumental in many individuals’ success in recovery. As such, individuals in an intensive outpatient program who are in need of dual-diagnosis support will often require more individualized attention than others.

Additionally, medication management is another feature of intensive outpatient programming. This refers to the management of the medications that individuals have been prescribed for preexisting conditions, but can also refer to forms of medication maintenance for opioid addiction such as in methadone programs. In fact, maintenance programs in which individuals take methadone or other replacement drugs are commonly incorporated in intensive outpatient programming to ensure that such individuals also receive the individual, group, and educational counseling they need in order to achieve optimal success in recovery.

Make Your Way Back to Health & Sobriety with Recovery Hub

Intensive outpatient programs have several individual components that fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Each component of IOP programs work together to arm individuals with the knowledge, skills, and strategies for achieving long-term sobriety. However, there are other types of programs available, ensuring that individuals can find the right addiction recovery programs for their specific needs. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would benefit from learning more about intensive outpatient or other types of recovery programming, call Recovery Hub at 1-888-220-4352. We have a team of recovery specialists available for free consultations and assessments. Don’t let the disease of addiction continue to destroy your health and life. Find freedom in recovery with just one phone call.

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