What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of an IOP Program?

Guilt, shame, and embarrassment prevent many people from admitting, even to themselves, that they have mental health or substance use disorder (SUD). Some seek help only when addiction has become so unbearable that the relief treatment can provide outweighs the stigma associated with having the disease. For others, the decision to get help is made for them, usually by a court or a probation officer. Regardless of the reason you have for seeking help, choosing the right treatment program greatly enhances your chances of getting the outcome you desire: a life free from the shackles of addiction.

Types of SUD Treatment

There are essentially two medically supervised forms of treatment for a SUD: inpatient, or residential, and intensive outpatient (IOP). Both utilize doctors and mental health and behavior counselors, and both encompass a wide variety of programs that can be tailored to fit individual circumstances. Both approaches have proven successful in the treatment of SUDs.

IOP Therapy Disadvantages

While the advantages of IOP therapy far outweigh the disadvantages, people faced with a choice need to know the full story. Some of the disadvantages of IOP are:
• You continue to have exposure to influences (people and places) that were triggers for your drug or alcohol use.
• As such, you will likely have easy access to your alcohol or drug of choice.
• Life still happens, even in recovery. You could experience distractions that divert your attention from your recovery.
• Access to counseling, while still available, is not as close by as it is when you are in a residential/inpatient facility.
• In outpatient, you do not spend as much time with others in treatment, which makes building the foundation of your sober support network more challenging.

IOP Therapy Advantages

Among the many advantages of IOP therapy are:
• Easy and flexible access to treatment services lets you stay in your day-to-day routine.
• It is less expensive than a residential treatment program.
• A clinical setting can offer more flexibility to respond to your individual needs.
• High-intensity outpatient programs have a better success rate than other outpatient approaches.
• You will have the opportunity to practice what you’re learning and to apply newly developed coping skills in a timely fashion.
• You will have a greater ability to develop a community-based support network.
• You will have better access to treatment programs in the event you should have a relapse.
• You will have more individual responsibility for your recovery which can provide greater intrinsic rewards.
• Outpatient therapy is more private than inpatient therapy.
• You can participate in peer groups like Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous from the get-go.

Structured but Flexible

An IOP program will provide you with the structure you need while still allowing you to handle the duties of everyday life. Treatment is conducted in a doctor or mental health professional’s office, or at an off-sight location, with specially trained doctors, addiction professionals, and/or clinicians. This treatment occurs in regularly scheduled sessions and involves some combination of individual and group therapy. Additional support in the form of peer-oriented self-help groups like AA or NA is strongly encouraged by the clinical staff.

Intensive outpatient programs mimic inpatient programs in terms of energy and focus, but they do so without the restrictions. If you’re not able to set aside job commitments or caring for children, among other responsibilities, to be fully immersed in an inpatient program, IOPs offer a workable middle ground. Perhaps the greatest benefit of IOP therapy, however, is that you can use what you’re learning in therapy in the here and now.

While the types and intensity of services provided vary, outpatient treatment is often the first step in rehabilitation for a SUD. For some, this first step is enough to help them kick the habit, especially if they have an extensive support network. For others, more structured and intensive long-term treatment programs are required.

Early intervention is important for the effective treatment of addiction. At the same time, even those who have been battling the disease for a long time need to know that they too can “reset their brain” through abstinence and Intensive Outpatient Therapy. For additional information on how you or a loved can get help for a substance use disorder, call 772-266-5320 for a free consultation.

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