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IOP Stands for Intensive Outpatient Program. This is one of a variety rehabilitation programs.  Understanding what IOP can help you or a loved one decided if this style of treatment is the best choice for success.

Description of IOP

Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are treatment programs that require a patient to come into the treatment center for a few hours, several days a week. This is much more frequent than standard outpatient programs, and therefore is more intensive. Sometimes, this is abbreviated as IOT, or intensive outpatient treatment.

IOP treatment typically lasts for 6 to 30 hours a week for 90 days, but this depends on the patient’s needs.

As IOP’s are outpatient, this means that the patient does not need to live at the treatment facility. Patients will come in to the facility for treatments and return home after the day’s sessions.

Different types of treatments can occur through IOPs. This could include mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment. Over, less-severe treatments will be delivered with IOP plans.

IOP Treatments

IOP treatments are known to accommodate a wide variety of patient needs. IOP will often us a combination of approaches as part of treatment. These treatments and support approaches include:

  • Group therapy
  • Support groups
  • Individual counseling
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Motivational counseling
  • Social work
  • Case management
  • Medication or medical professional health support
  • Psychiatric screening
  • Vocational training.
  • 12-step program facilitation
  • Matrix Model
  • Establishing a therapeutic community
  • Community reinforcement
  • Contingency management.
  • Drug testing is also an element of IOP to ensure that patients are successfully following the program.

Stages of IOP

When looking at treatment systems, it is helpful to consider a continuum of care. This means the type of treatment a person requires depends on that type of care they need.  The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has explained that there are five main levels in a continuum of care for substance abuse treatment.  This includes

  • Level 0.5: Early intervention services
  • Level I: Outpatient services
  • Level II: Intensive outpatient/Partial hospitalization services (Level II is subdivided into levels II.1 and II.5)
  • Level III: Residential/Inpatient services (Level III is subdivided into levels III.1, III.3, III.5, and III.7)
  • Level IV: Medically managed intensive inpatient services

A person looking to determine if IOP is right for them should discuss their level of care needs with a treatment professional.

Some people may transition to an IOP after completion of an inpatient program. This can act as a transition into a new healthy routine while supporting continued sobriety.

The continuum also shows that an individual’s treatment journey does not end with IOP. After IOP, patients will usually continue with less intensive outpatient treatment plans. This could include less frequent therapy or counseling sessions, periodic phone check-ins, 12 step programs, or alumni meetings at the IOP treatment facility.

Additionally, it is helpful to know that there are 4 sequential stages of outpatient treatment. These stages are:

  • Stage 1: Treatment Engagement
  • Stage 2: Early Recovery
  • Stage 3: Maintenance
  • State 4: Community Support

The various services provided in IOP will help an individual move through these stages.

Things to Consider

Someone undergoing an IOP treatment must have a stable living situation, as he or she will return home daily. Having an at-home support system is also beneficial. This person must also have reliable access to transportation.

If you or a loved one need to undergo a detox, an IOP may not be the correct choice. Instead, programs that offer medical services will more likely offer detox services. As withdrawal may lead to intense symptoms, a supervised detox plan is advised.

Outpatient programs allow for patients to have a more flexible schedule. For patients looking to maintain a job, this is beneficial.

IOP allows patients to maintain consistent contact with loved ones during treatment. This social support can lead to more success for some individuals.

Another consideration when selecting a treatment program is expense. Since IOP does not have expenses like housing or food, these programs also come at a much lower cost.


Treatment professionals are the best source of knowledge when determining which steps are best. If you or a loved one are questioning whether an Intensive Outpatient Program is the best choice, call CIVIQ health today at 844-237-5762. Recovery and sustained success is possible with support programs like these!