Intensive Outpatient Programs: An Option to Consider

groupIn behavioral health, finding the right treatment is one of the most important keys to success. Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) are becoming a crucial component, whether used in conjunction with inpatient treatment or as an alternative.

IOP may be an alternative for those who do not succeed with outpatient therapy in the treatment of mental health issues, or who need more intensive psychotherapy and education.

For those undergoing treatment for substance abuse who have already detoxed, the IOP may help ensure a more successful transition back to daily life, providing the support to deal with re-entry.

IOPs often meet multiple times per week for several hours at a time. Patients participating can continue working or attending school—and living at home—while receiving access to the very best care. Group and individual counseling also is a component of this type of program. IOPs typically offer a little more accountability than weekly group meetings and a lower cost than in-patient treatment.

According to research published in 2014 in Psychiatric Services, IOPs prove as effective as inpatient treatment. The researchers state: “IOPs are an important part of the continuum of care for alcohol and drug use disorders. They are as effective as inpatient treatment for most individuals seeking care. Public and commercial health plans should consider IOP treatment as a covered health benefit. Standardization of the elements included in IOPs may improve their quality and effectiveness.”

But here’s the real kicker that the researchers found: “The current assessment of intensive outpatient services echoes findings from similar reviews conducted since the 1960s. Despite changing research methods and study populations, results are consistent—patient outcomes from inpatient, residential, and intensive outpatient services are positive and more similar than different. This consistency over time enhances confidence in the stability of the findings and the value of intensive outpatient services.”

IOP programs may not be the best treatment for every patient. But they are worth discussing with a healthcare provider. Whether as a bridge from inpatient treatment back to daily life or as a more intensive form of group therapy, IOPs serve an important role in behavioral health and substance abuse treatment plans.


“Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence”


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