Triggr Health
Intensive Outpatient and Outpatient Programs

Treatment Types: IOP and OP

IOPs and OPs allow you to integrate your recovery efforts into your existing work, family, and personal schedule

Intensive Outpatient Programs (“IOP”) and Outpatient Programs (“OP”) are non-residential, part-time treatment options. IOPs and OPs are run by licensed clinical teams and seek to create a safe and supportive environment in order to facilitate your recovery. Less intensive than PHPs or inpatient programs, IOPs and OPs allow you to live at home and maintain most of your normal day-to-day schedule while attending treatment for a few hours a day. They allow for the greatest flexibility to accommodate work, family, school, and personal schedules while you complete treatment.

IOPs and OPs are the most common starting point for somebody struggling with alcohol or drug use. They are a great entry-level treatment option for those with less severe symptoms and a safe home environment. Additionally, these programs are a common “step-down” option for those who have just completed more intensive treatment.

What exactly does IOP / OP entail?

IOP and OP focus on group and individual therapy. These meetings and counseling sessions are held at the program’s facility and are completed with a licensed addiction treatment specialist: a counselor, psychologist, social worker, addiction-credentialed physician or some combination thereof. Some programs will also require attendance at 12-step meetings and/or offer additional support services like art therapy, dance therapy, music therapy, yoga, vocational support, family counseling, etc.

What is the difference between IOP / OP?

The main difference between IOP and OP is the time required in the program. The offered activities and groups are often the same, you’ll just do more of them in IOP than in OP. IOPs typically require attendance at least 3-5 days a week for 2-4 hours a day. OPs will typically be less than that. The exact hour requirements vary from program to program, so be sure to ask about these specifics during your initial phone screening or assessment.

How long does IOP / OP last?

Duration in a program will depend on the individual and their treatment needs. IOPs typically range in duration from twelve to sixteen weeks. OPs typically range from four to twelve weeks. The great thing about OP is that can be highly individualized for your specific needs, whether that be a couple weeks all the way up to a year.

How do I know if IOP / OP is right for me?

An IOP or OP is a good fit for you if:

  • You’ve just completed a more intensive program (inpatient, residential or PHP), or
  • If your addiction is not severe enough to require full-day supervision, or
  • If your home environment is safe, stable, and supportive, or
  • If you have have family or work obligations that you need to fulfill alongside treatment

I can't decide between an inpatient and outpatient program. Which is better?

Inpatient and outpatient programs both have their pros and cons, so it's difficult to say which is "better."

That said, the data suggests that IOPs and OPs are as effective as inpatient care in terms of patient outcomes, measured in decreased problem severity and increased days of abstinence. Additionally, IOPs and OPs are much cheaper. So if your home life is safe and supportive, outpatient options are equally effective and will save you some money.

If you find somebody who is pushing you strongly towards inpatient options and you aren't comfortable with that, don't hesitate to look elsewhere as the efficacy levels of inpatient and outpatient are the same. An individual pushing inpatient options despite your discomfort might be an indicator of a possible fraud scheme.

However, everyone is different and their ideal treatment pathway is different, so only you (with the help of your physician) will be able to answer this question. Remember that ultimately it's your care, your recovery, and your call.

How much does IOP / OP cost?

Cost varies depending on duration of treatment, services included, and your health insurance coverage. That said, around $200 per day is not uncommon, though many insurance carriers will cover a significant portion of the daily cost.

From an insurance standpoint, what would qualify me for IOP / OP?

Most insurance companies will cover some of IOP / OP (or cover all of it once a deductible is met) if you are not at risk for dangerous withdrawals -- meaning you are sufficiently stable with only mild symptoms -- and your home environment is safe.

How do I know if I’ve found a reputable program?

Fraudulent treatment programs do exist and prey on individuals seeking out help. It’s important to exercise caution before giving any program your money or personal information.

You can take measures to ensure that any treatment program you’re considering is reputable by checking for accreditations like Joint Commission (“JCAHO”) and Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (“CARF”), visiting the facility in person, asking your primary care physician or other medical professional for their references, and/or calling “211,” the Federal Communications Commission, a hotline that will refer you to reputable local mental health services. You can chat with our treatment experts using the phone number at the bottom of this article if you need help finding a reputable program!

What is allowed and not allowed in these programs?

Most programs have basic rules of conduct to maintain a safe, peaceful, and supportive environment. No alcohol or unauthorized drugs are allowed in an IOP or OP. Rules around smoking/nicotine vary.

Can I keep my job while attending IOP / OP?

Yes absolutely! These programs are designed to accommodate your work, family, and/or personal schedule.

Similar to other treatment program types, IOP/OP are HIPAA compliant and your privacy is extremely important. They will not share your information with anyone without your written consent.

What do I do after I’ve completed an IOP / OP?

After completing an IOP or OP, continued attendance in meetings, one-on-one counseling sessions, and/or virtual treatment is recommended. Recovery is a long process and maintaining a support structure even after you’ve been discharged is one of the best things you can do to increase your chances of sustained success. The Triggr Health app is also a helpful tool you can add to your continued care arsenal to help you manage your cravings and make goals in real time!

Bottom Line: IOPs and OPs are great options for those seeking part-time treatment or for those just leaving intensive treatment and looking to continue their recovery efforts while transitioning back into their regular life.

If you need help finding an IOP or OP or if you have other questions, you can speak to our treatment experts by texting 312-248-6218 at any time.


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