How Is an IOP Different from Inpatient Treatment?

One of the first decisions someone who is ready to deal with their addiction needs to make is what type of recovery program will be the right fit. Inpatient and outpatient options, including intensive outpatient programs, are designed to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of individuals who are in need of addiction treatment.

Intensive outpatient programs combine the best of both traditional outpatient and inpatient programs to support and enhance individual efforts and protect progress. Learning to live sober in a more normal environment while dealing with cravings and temptations as they arise helps many recovering addicts excel in the real world and keep their families strong.
Girl busy in Study

This guide will answer the most common questions that arise when considering which therapy choice is right for you. Understanding the different environments and the varying levels of time commitment and supervision will help you or your loved one find the best possible path to sobriety.

What Are the Differences Between Outpatient and Inpatient Treatment?

Inpatient treatment programs are live-in options. Patients reside in a supervised care facility, usually with medical staff nearby or on call. There are varying levels of structure in these sober residences, but typically 24/7 supervision is required.

Leaving a residential program even for a day can result in needing to start over. Normal life is put on hold while the patient learns how to remain sober in the controlled environment of the residence.

Intensive outpatient programs allow patients to live in a place of their own choosing, with a keen awareness of the importance of family, work, and school commitments. Centering on these strengths while attending regular group and family therapy allows patients greater freedom while pursuing lasting recovery.

In an outpatient program, the individual learns how to cope with real-life situations and triggers with regular therapy sessions to strategize about coping with situations in real-time. Rather than theorizing about what it will be like to live and work as a sober person, the skills are put to use in the outside world immediately, tested for effectiveness, and adjusted as needed.

Each of these options has an intended scope of care and diagnostic criteria to consider.

Outpatient programs are ideal for those who:

  • Are in good health.
  • Have a safe, stable, and supportive living situation.
  • Are in the early stages of addiction.
  • Need additional support to achieve sobriety.
  • Are unlikely to have extreme withdrawal or detox symptoms.
  • Are unable to afford inpatient residences or lack insurance coverage for that option.
  • Are unable to step away from children, work, or elderly care responsibilities.

Inpatient programs are designed for those who:

  • Have potentially life-threatening addictions.
  • Need constant medical supervision for severe detox.
  • Have tried outpatient therapy previously but continue to relapse.
  • Are unable to resist cravings without 24/7 supervision.
  • Do not have a safe, sober living situation available.
  • Are lacking a network of supportive family and friends.
  • Are required to complete an inpatient program by legal order.

All addiction treatment centers will provide these services, by varying methods:

  • Establish an individualized treatment plan to support your sobriety.
  • Create or re-create a strong support system for long-term recovery.
  • Teach relapse management strategies to deal with triggers.
  • Treat co-occurring mental or physical health issues.
  • Develop strong coping and problem-solving skills.
  • Provide a structured recovery community to celebrate wins and provide accountability.
  • Serve as a strong foundation for achieving individual goals.
  • Strengthen social, psychological, spiritual, and emotional wellness.

woman with daughter

When Is an IOP the Best Choice for Recovery?

One of the main reasons clients choose an IOP is the greater freedom which allows them to keep up with work, family, or school responsibilities. This option provides effective structured treatment with the least disruption to family needs and individual goals. Caring for children or parents can be a motivating force to stay sober.

An early stage of IOP includes identifying and leveraging the patient’s unique strengths and talents while arming them with proven recovery tools. Opening your eyes to the impacts of drug or alcohol abuse and gaining awareness of your triggers allows you to plan for success.

Changing perspective from needing to abstain to wanting to recover is a catalyst that fuels the rest of the journey. Getting there is all about finding that motivation and allowing it to thrive.

Many of those who have achieved sobriety outline these reasons for choosing outpatient treatment:

  • Addressing early stage addiction while keeping day-to-day life on track.
  • Minimizing disruption for their partner and children.
  • Maintaining employment and protecting career advancement.
  • Reducing social stigma associated with inpatient “rehab.”
  • Protecting their privacy.
  • Building and nurturing existing support networks of family and friends.
  • Gaining structured access to a recovery support community and life-skills training.

If you are unsure which route to take, your recovery team can guide you. There are specific medical diagnostic criteria that indicate when an individual needs residential or inpatient care. Outpatient treatment may also be recommended for those leaving an inpatient facility, as a transitional stage of treatment.
man enjoying with son

Is Intensive Outpatient Treatment as Effective as Inpatient Treatment?

Established research shows that substance abuse intensive outpatient programs are equally as effective as inpatient residential treatment programs. Intensive outpatient programs are defined as having a minimum of 9 hours of service per week in three 3-hour sessions. Some programs require an even greater time commitment, while some become less intensive over time. IOPs tend to last longer than inpatient options and this longer period of consistent reinforcement enhances the effects.1

Many programs allow outpatient drug detox with medication and medical support, enabling those who expect to experience withdrawal symptoms as part of their transition to take advantage of the less intrusive outpatient option. Remaining part of the local community and enhancing social adjustment are also cited in the research as benefits of IOP.1

Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs compare to inpatient residential care with comparable successful outcomes. Both methods report substantial reductions in drug or alcohol use by the end of the program. IOPs are recognized as a “critical facet” of modern addiction treatment and important beneficial service to society as a whole.1

The research concludes that with similar outcomes and numerous advantages to outpatient care, inpatient residential care is best reserved for the “most severely impaired” patients who lack the supportive environment or motivation to succeed in an intensive outpatient program. The intensity and duration of a program is determined to be more indicative of its success than maintaining an in-house 24/7 supervised environment.1

Is There an Intensive Outpatient Program Near Me?

If you are looking for intensive outpatient therapy in New Jersey, one of the most highly-trained teams is ready and waiting at BlueCrest Recovery Center. Providing the most effective tools and education covering all aspects of recovery, their holistic approach will transform old behaviors and create a new balance in your life.

Treating the entire person, not just their habitual drug use, empowers them to find healthy and life-enhancing habits and supports which promote long-lasting sobriety. With an intensive program that fosters rapid change while maintaining what you have worked hard to achieve, the numbing and isolating impacts of drug abuse can be reversed.

There is no time like the present moment to start the journey to freedom. We believe that everyone can overcome the physical, mental, and spiritual causes of addiction. By supporting your goals and clearing the path in front of you, together we will get you there. A bright future awaits your next decision. Contact us now!



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