Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) is the highest level of care in which you can live independently. It is often the center stage of the continuum of care in addiction treatment with inpatient treatment about it and standard outpatient treatment below. IOP will involve at least more than nine hours of addiction treatment services weekly, but partial hospitalization also falls under this category, which can involve as many as 12 hours of addiction treatment services each day.
Intensive outpatient treatment is often the level of care when you spend the most time in psychotherapies directly addressing the underlying issues of your substance use disorders. You may go through several therapies that are tailored to your individual needs, including individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy.
There is also a wide variety of common behavioral therapies in addiction treatment that can directly address your readiness to make a change, your substance use triggers, and other mental health disorders. If you have a mental health problem related to trauma, there are also therapies specifically designed to address that issue.
The most effective therapies in addiction treatment will be evidence-based therapies or ones that have been proven to be significantly effective in scientific studies. Alternative therapies like equine therapy or EMDR therapy can be helpful for some, but your treatment plan should be grounded in more scientifically studied therapy options.
When you enter addiction treatment, clinicians may use the ASAM Criteria (a list of six important factors outlined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine) to help determine the level of care that’s appropriate for you. This evaluation can also be used to help determine the next step in treatment after a person has completed one. If you’re medically and psychologically stable enough to live at home and living independently wouldn’t significantly jeopardize your sobriety, IOP may be the ideal level of treatment for you.
However, if you have recently stopped using a drug, you’re currently going through withdrawal, or you have high-level medical or psychological needs, IOP may not be right for you. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’ve already gone through higher levels of care and you are ready to take on more responsibilities in your independent life, you may need IOP and a standard outpatient treatment would serve you better.
The opioid crisis has caused a wide-reaching surge of doctors, researchers, and clinicians to find and offer viable solutions. Because of this, treatment centers have popped up all over the nation, and there are various treatment options, locations, and approaches to addiction therapy. However, not all treatment programs and modalities are equally effective. Finding the right treatment program for your specific needs can seem like a daunting challenge. However, there are specific factors you can look for to tell you if a treatment center is going to offer effective treatment.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) had outlined a set of principles that make for effective treatment, and many of these principles have become industry standards for treatment centers around the United States. When you are considering a treatment program, it can be helpful for you to keep a few of these principles in mind, ask questions, and make an informed decision. Here are some of the most important principles of effective treatment that you should keep in mind when you’re looking for the best intensive outpatient treatment for your needs:
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It’s important for a treatment center to have a clear understanding of addiction and how current medical science believes it should be treated. Addiction is a complex disease that needs a complex treatment to address effectively. It’s also important for your clinicians to understand that addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain, not a simple moral failing or bad habit. Even though it’s a chronic disease, it can be treated with the right therapies, even if a person has relapsed one or more times.
There’s no such thing as an ultimate addiction treatment program that perfectly fits everyone’s needs. Again, addiction is complex, and it can come with any number of underlying causes and even more potential consequences. When someone enters treatment, they may have several issues both directly and indirectly related to their substance use disorder.
For instance, a mental health issue like depression could have led to self-medication with alcohol, and then to alcoholism. To effectively treat the alcohol use disorder, the depression has to be addressed as well. So someone with depression may require a completely different treatment plan than someone who has post-traumatic stress disorder.
For that reason, treatment has to be personalized, tailored to your individual needs. When you enter an addiction treatment program, you will sit down with your therapist, and together, you will formulate a treatment plan that addresses each of your most pressing needs.
Not everyone who has a substance use disorder knows they need to make a change. For some, the process of realizing they have a problem that needs treatment is difficult. For that reason, addiction treatment needs to be readily available as soon as a person decides to seek treatment. Plus, for people who are in an active addiction that involves illicit substances, each hit can be dangerous. For instance, someone who’s using heroin may encounter a dose that includes the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl and overdose. Getting into treatment quickly can help avoid dangerous consequences.
If you’ve completed detox or inpatient treatment and it’s time to move onto an intensive outpatient program, the transition also needs to be seamless. Detoxification is an important step; it’s usually not enough to facilitate long-lasting recovery for someone who has become addicted. Clinicians should help you make it to the next level of care in treatment.
Because addiction can come with a variety of causes and consequences that need to be addressed, your treatment center should be prepared to address multiple needs that you have, not just your substance use disorder. Addiction has a way of permeating your life, and it may end up affecting your health, relationships, and finances. For that reason, addiction needs to be able to address medical, psychological, social, legal, and financial needs.
If you are ready for an intensive outpatient program, your medical needs should at least be stabilized, but it should offer access mental health treatment and connect you to resources that can address money problems or legal issues.
Though there are various treatment options and each individual treatment option should be unique, behavioral therapies are a commonly effective option. Behavioral therapies are designed to help you realize the way your thoughts influence your behavior. Through these therapies, you can gain mastery over your own behavior. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is particularly useful in treating both addiction and other mental health issues. CBT is often instrumental in forming relapse prevention strategies.
ASAM. (n.d.). What is the ASAM Criteria? Retrieved from https://www.asam.org/asam-criteria/about
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Nicotine). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Principles of Effective Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment