Intensive Outpatient Program: What To Expect?

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) really picked up a lot of momentum in the 1980s when the cocaine epidemic was at an all-time high. Many working-class Whites were addicted to cocaine and wanted to get help without completely interrupting their lives and their income. In the 1990s managed care came about and helped to grow the reach of IOPs, allowing it to be offered to people experiencing things other than substance abuse. These programs are now offered to individuals who are at risk of hospitalization and when a typical outpatient treatment program isn’t enough. An IOP is ranked just below inpatient acute care and residential care.

Intensive Outpatient Program: What To Expect?

Types of IOPs

At one point in time, IOPs were reserved strictly for substance abuse disorders, but as society has evolved, IOPs have opened up to those who suffer from other conditions. The therapies used in IOP can vary according to the needs of the patient. The reason for joining the program will determine how intense the treatment needs to be. Some of the different types of IOPs include mental health IOP, dual diagnosis IOP, substance use/abuse IOP, and eating disorder IOP. Each of these programs is tailored to the problem being addressed and the individual patient.

How to Find an IOP

The most recommended way of finding an IOP center is through personal recommendation. Of course, you can do an Internet search, but a personal recommendation will be better appreciated. You can also ask your therapist or healthcare provider for referrals if you’re uncomfortable asking family or friends. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration can help you locate an IOP if you need help. If you decide to choose a program you find online, be sure to thoroughly research the facility and patient reviews. Some key questions to ask include:
1. Do you accept my insurance?
2. How long is the program?
3. What is the program’s structure?
4. How will you help me transition back into my daily life?
5. How much experience do you have with patients with my issues and needs?

What to Expect in an IOP

Much of what to expect is in the name. An intensive outpatient program is going to be intense. Many programs incorporate three to five days of treatment per week at three or four hours per day. Typically, a program will run for four to six weeks. You can expect to have both group and individual therapy sessions to help you navigate behavioral and emotional issues in healthy ways. A psychiatrist may be part of your care team if you are on medications or need to be assessed for or prescribed mental health pharmaceuticals. Depending on your situation, you may experience a variety of modalities. Some of the more popular modalities include cognitive behavioral therapy, 12-step programs, motivational enhancement therapy, and therapeutic community, which is one step down from a residential program.

If you’re not sure whether or not an IOP is the right choice for you, talk to your healthcare provider about your options. The sooner you take steps towards achieving wellness, the sooner your quality of life will improve. Be encouraged. There are a lot of treatment options available, and there is help for you.

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