Start Your Recovery Today

Start Your Recovery Today


It’s hard enough to cope with an addiction or a mental health disorder; it can add stress to figure out the right level of treatment for you. On top of making this difficult decision, you may be unsure how to fit treatment into your busy life. The below article discusses Intensive Outpatient Programs. Intensive Outpatient Programs allow you to live your day-to-day life, but receive a high level of care. They are a great option if you need intensive treatment but can’t take time off work or other commitments, do not require medical detoxification, and have a stable home life. On The American Society of Addiction Medicine’s level of care continuum–which rates programs from 1-5 by increasing intensity of treatment–Intensive Outpatient Programs are a level 2.

What are Intensive Outpatient Programs?

Intensive Outpatient Programs are addiction or mental health treatment options in which patients receive extensive treatment, but live at home. People in Intensive Outpatient Programs typically visit a facility about three hours at a time, three or four days a week. Patients in IOPs do not require around the clock care or detoxification. However, if a patient’s home or personal life enables their abuse, an Inpatient Program is usually recommended. Intensive Outpatient Programs can be a sole treatment plan, or they can be a next step after an Inpatient Program. IOPs can also be a next step after medical detoxification.

What are some common treatment practices of IOPs?

While Intensive Outpatient Programs vary depending on the facility, there are some common practices. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, IOPs typically require patients to spend 9-20 hours per week in treatment. Patients tend to receive both group and individual therapy. The goal is to help create coping strategies, build a support system, and work on relapse prevention. Most Intensive Outpatient Programs also encourage patients to participate in a 12-step program. Group Therapy Group therapy is typically central to Intensive Outpatient Programs. Working in a group helps people learn positive communication, build trust, and assist in one another’s growth. Patients’ previous interactions may have mostly been with others who drink alcohol or use drugs; group therapy creates the opportunity to build a sober support system. It creates a safe environment that supports recovery. In addition, people further along in their recovery may assist those in the earlier stages. This relationship is mutually beneficial. In The Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy, Irvin D. Yalom outlines some of the therapeutic benefits to group therapy. These benefits were reported by people who had been through the group therapy process:

  • Instills hope

When people in early recovery witness the successes of people in later recovery, it gives them hope. It allows them to imagine a future for themselves, free from addiction.

  • Reminds people that theirs is a common experience

Being part of a group who are all going through the same thing helps patients feel less alone.

  • Provides a way to share information

The group setting is a way for patients to give each other helpful tips and share information they’ve learned.

  • Nurtures altruism

As mentioned earlier, the relationship between people in early recovery and those in later recovery is mutually beneficial. Being of service allows people in later recovery to strengthen their self-esteem and confidence.

  • Recreates a family structure, helping patients make sense of their past

The group setting can mirror a family structure, helping patients understand how their childhood experiences affect their current life. Patients can also learn to communicate effectively and avoid destructive relationships.

  • Allows patients to develop their social skills

People can practice new behaviors in a safe environment, without fear of failure.

  • Creates an opportunity to mirror positive behaviors

People in the group can learn from the positive behaviors of both the therapist and fellow patients.

  • Provides an environment for interpersonal learning

The group setting is a great chance for people to learn more about themselves. Through interactions with and feedback from the group, individuals can understand more about their own behaviors.

  • Produces group cohesiveness

The group is working towards a common goal, which encourages feelings of belonging.

  • Inspires catharsis

In group therapy, people are able to share feelings or experiences that they may not have shared before. This can help relieve stress, pain, guilt, or shame.

  • Encourages awareness

People in group therapy have reported realizing that they are responsible for their own actions, choices, and lives. Individual Therapy In addition to group therapy, many Intensive Outpatient Programs offer individual therapy. Typically, people in Intensive Outpatient Programs will receive individual therapy at least once weekly, and sometimes more often in early treatment. Each person is assigned a therapist who will establish trust, and a commitment to the patient’s recovery. During individual therapy, patients often dig deeper into the issues that surfaced in group therapy. If people are uncomfortable talking in a group, individual therapy is a chance to share one-on-one. Some benefits of individual therapy are:

  • Gives the patient individual attention

In individual therapy, the client receives the sole attention of the therapist. This gives the patient the opportunity to augment what they worked on in group therapy with greater focus.

  • Creates a high level of confidentiality

Patients can be sure that what they say in individual therapy will remain confidential. This may allow patients to share more than they feel comfortable sharing in group.

  • Provides a comfortable pace

When working in a group setting, the conversational pace will depend on the group. In individual therapy, the patient can work at a pace that best suits them.

  • Offers a secure setting to work on issues

Group therapy is a safe and supportive environment, and individual therapy is a great supplement; it provides the patient with a quiet, safe and secure space to further work out issues.

How long is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

While programs vary in length, the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends that people remain in therapy for at least 90 days. Many patients begin in an Intensive Outpatient Program and transition to a less intensive treatment plan after 30-60 days.

Will my health insurance cover an Intensive Outpatient Program?

Most commercial health insurance companies cover Intensive Outpatient Programs. TruHealing Centers across the country accept all commercial insurances. Check with your provider to find out the specifics of what they cover.

What makes a good Intensive Outpatient Program?

Care should be individualized As we say at TruHealing Centers, everyone’s path to addiction was unique—so must be their recovery. Be cautious about programs that offer the same treatment to each patient. Treatment programs should be based on the individual’s needs and progress.

  • Wait times shouldn’t be too extensive

You shouldn’t have to sit on a long waiting list to get the help you need.

  • Social support opportunities should be provided

Patients should be provided the opportunity to gain social support, through group therapy and other support groups. They should also have an aftercare plan that includes building and maintaining their support network.

  • Treatment should be ongoing

As mentioned earlier, it is recommended that people remain in therapy for at least 90 days. Additionally, Intensive Treatment Programs should be setting people up for success with an aftercare plan.

  • Criteria for discharge from Intensive Outpatient Programs

Patients will be discharged if their treatment goals have been met, or if it’s decided that a lower level of care can be provided effectively. Patients may also be discharged if they are not progressing toward their goals, unless a recent treatment plan change might resolve this issue.


First call to TruHealing Centers:

  • Professionals are available around the clock to speak with you.
  • Get you started on the way to recovery.
  • Reach out to us for more information.


I’ve decided that an Intensive Outpatient Program is right for me. Now what?

There’s a lot more to recovery than to just stop drinking. That’s why it is important to make a plan for your future while you are still in PHP.

At TruHealing Centers across the country, our staff will work with you to develop healthy coping mechanisms. That way you can build a strong, supportive recovery community. Whether it is through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, or through continuing care treatment plans at TruHealing Centers facilities, our team will motivate you to build that community. Many of us have been where you’ve been. Drug and alcohol addiction are not easy to tackle, and no one should have to do it alone. Everyone deserves a second chance, and you are no different. So make the call. We are easy to talk to and we know what we’re talking about.