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Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

It is not always easy to determine when treatment is needed for substance abuse or what treatment is best for the situation. Addiction can come in different severities. Sometimes the addict is an unstable person, sometimes a dangerous person, and sometimes in between. It is helpful to be aware of potential substance abuse, know when treatment is needed, and know which treatment is best.

Studies have shown that in adults 18 years and older, approximately 17 million have some form of alcohol use disorder. Substance abuse does not just affect the person addicted; however, ten percent of children reside with a parent who has some form of alcohol use disorder. In many of these cases, it is difficult for the addicted to abandon all of their responsibilities to receive inpatient treatment ultimately. While the situation is sometimes serious enough to merit inpatient treatment, outpatient rehab may be a good alternative for those who have other responsibilities, less intense addictions, or strong social support.

What Is Outpatient Rehab?

Unlike inpatient rehab, where patients leave their homes and reside full-time in a facility, outpatient rehab consists of receiving treatment primarily from home. Though the exact nature of the treatment and care provided can vary, outpatient rehab allows the patient to continue with other responsibilities while receiving treatment.

Some indications that outpatient rehab may be an option:

  • Substance abuse or addiction is in the early stages
  • Substance abuse or addiction is less severe
  • A healthy social support system is in place
  • Stable living environment
  • Good physical health

Components of Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment can vary in terms of how extensive it is. In some cases, outpatient rehab may be a program focused on drug education, while in other cases, it may include intensive day treatment and more comprehensive services. Often inpatient treatment will include some or all of the following:

  • Medical Detoxification
  • Therapy
  • Group counseling
  • 12-step program
  • Substance abuse education
  • Relapse prevention and stress management education
  • Personal skills development, including communication skills and goal setting

Types of Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment may be broadly categorized into three parts: outpatient services, intensive outpatient services, and continuing care. These categories are separated by the level of need and level of care provided by the benefits. All facilities and programs may not use this exact language, but this will help clarify outpatient treatments’ different intensities.

Outpatient Services

Outpatient services reflect an early level of addressing substance abuse and may be considered the next step after earlier attempts at intervention. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, this treatment level should consist of no more than 9 hours a week for adults or 6 hours a week for adolescents. The focus of this time is on the usage of therapies and strategies to start the recovery process.  It typically involves more of an educational framework.

Intensive Outpatient Services

Intensive outpatient services reflect an increased degree of time involved and increased support for the patient. These services remain outpatient and can fit around a patient’s schedule of work or school. However, this level of care will often involve more than 9 hours a week for adults and more than 6 hours a week for adolescents. Intensive outpatient services may also be necessary for those with co-occurring conditions, including mental illness.

Continuing Care

Some facilities and programs will also include continuing care or aftercare, which usually consists of individual or group therapy and/or support groups. Often these sorts of events occur at least once a week, allowing for ongoing accountability and encouragement. Proper continuing care is often an important part of preparing patients for independence after treatment.

Benefits of Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is an important form of addressing substance abuse, and some features may make it a better option than inpatient rehab or other treatment options:

  • Autonomy: Outpatient treatment allows for much greater flexibility and mobility for the patient. For patients who are the sole or primary provider for their family, or those in school, outpatient treatment may provide a good opportunity to get the treatment needed without abandoning their responsibilities.
  • Convenience: Outpatient treatment, unlike inpatient treatment, does not require the patient to live outside of the home. Patients can continue living in their homes and also participate in the treatment they need.
  • Cost: Outpatient treatment is often much more affordable than inpatient treatment due to its reduced intensity and lack of housing costs.
  • Transition: Since the patient is not required to stay in a treatment facility overnight, transitioning to everyday life and environment after treatment is much smoother.

How Much Does Outpatient Drug Rehab Cost?

Outpatient care does not require the same medical attention level and does not require constant hospitalization or housing. These factors will be key in lowering outpatient care costs, especially the rate per day or month. On the other hand, outpatient care can often last for a more extended period of time than inpatient care, so it is important to consider facilities and treatments. The longer the treatment, the more expensive it will be.

In many cases, insurance plans can help cover all or part of the costs, and it is highly recommended to reach out to your insurance provider for details on what is covered.

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How to Find Outpatient Extended Care Programs Near Me

Cycles of Change Recovery offers Intensive Outpatient Programs and a Partial Hospitalization Program, both outpatient options.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Our Intensive Outpatient Program provides regular therapy sessions, interactive education groups, motivation for sobriety, and family-focused therapy. Additionally, our counselors are prepared to address co-occurring issues when necessary, and our team of addiction treatment specialists is equipped to provide 24/7 care.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP): Relapse Prevention

Our Partial Hospitalization Program is a day and night program focused on relapse prevention. This program is ideal for those who are attempting to return to everyday life. The program offers structure, supervision, and support to equip patients to maintain sobriety and fully transition to a life without substance abuse. Patients will come to the facility during the day and then return to their own homes in the evening, allowing for a combination of structure and autonomy.


  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help,” https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/.
  2. NIDA. “Types of Treatment Programs.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 3 Jun. 2020, https://www.drugabuse.gov/.
  3. WebMD. “Inpatient vs. Outpatient Alcohol Rehab: Which Is Right For You?”
  4. ASAM Continuum. “What are the ASAM levels of care?” American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2015.
  5. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator Map.” https://fsamhsa.gov/.

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