What’s the Difference between IOP and Outpatient Addiction Treatment?

If you are a drug or substance addict and you are trying to comprehend the best form of treatment, you might get confused due to the different levels and types of drug rehab. Addiction is very dangerous, and it might cost you your whole life if you don’t get the right treatment. You might get to a point where you wonder what the difference between intensive outpatient programs and outpatient addiction treatment is. The two may sound the same, but they are different forms of treatment. Sometimes it is hard to go for inpatient treatment due to work and life requirements. Luckily, outpatient options are as effective as inpatient treatments in fighting addiction and getting back on the right track. Let’s find out the difference between IOP and outpatient programs.

What is IOP (Intensive Outpatient Programs)?

IOP is a treatment program that offers the patient a supportive and structured environment where they get treated without staying in a rehab center 24/7. For instance, a rehab center may require you to attend the treatment sessions for around 15 hours every week. These sessions may take place during the day or in the evening to give you a chance to continue fulfilling your other obligations and at the same time receive treatment.

During IOP, you engage yourself in both group and individual therapy sessions. These sessions assist in learning about substance addiction recovery. You also get assistance and support if you face any challenge in your journey to recovery. There is also an opportunity for you to take part in recreational therapy sessions, which encourage healthy coping mechanisms, increased self-esteem, and the development of new skills.

Goals of IOP

  • Achieve behavioral change
  • Maintain abstinence
  • Participate in support systems, for example, 12-step groups.
  • Develop a support system
  • Address psychosocial issues like employment, housing, and meeting requirements of probation.
  • Improve problem-solving skills

What Is Outpatient Addiction Treatment Program?

This program involves visiting the rehab facility for sessions that take less period. For instance, you might spend 1-3 hours getting individualized or group counseling. This is the stage where you are almost fully recovered, and you are adapting to the new normal life. At this stage, you can parent your children full-time, work full-time, and if you are a student, you can go back to school and meet all your obligations.

Outpatient addiction treatment is just a step-down from an intensive outpatient program. Here are the stages of addiction treatment.

  • Early intervention services
  • Outpatient services
  • Partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient services
  • Inpatient or residential treatment services
  • Intensive inpatient services

Differences between IOP and Outpatient Treatment

The two methods of addiction treatment have similar goals: to support addiction recovery. However, if you need a high level of support, IOP is the best option since it is more aggressive.

The two options offer privacy, convenience, and a balance between work and life. You also get the chance to stay at your comfort after the sessions.

During intensive outpatient therapy, you attend more group sessions, individualized meetings, and classes.

Things to Consider When Choosing between the Two


A major difference between IOP and outpatient programs is time spent with the counselor. For IOP, you get to spend more hours (at least 10 hours) with the counselor to increase the chances of quality results. On the other hand, outpatient therapy will require only 1-2 hours every week.


By choosing IOP, you can continue with your job and still get proven addiction treatment services. However, the amount you pay for IOP is much higher than that of outpatient addiction treatment due to the difference in the number of sessions and hours spent.

Ease of Getting Back to Ordinary Life

If you are just from an inpatient treatment center, the best option will be IOP. IOP will offer you a support system if you require extra reinforcement as you transition from in-house therapy. Getting back to your normal life may be a great challenge if you are struggling to fight drug and alcohol addiction. IOP focuses on more access, time, and support, which will help bridge the gap so that you achieve full recovery.

Contact the Professionals

If you need outpatient or intensive outpatient therapy, do not hesitate to contact us at 302-842-2390. Our specialists will listen to you, understand the source of your addiction and help you in your recovery journey. If you have any queries, schedule a consultation meeting with us today.

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Essentials mission is to renew lives impacted by addiction through personalized and complete behavioral healthcare. Our main purpose is to provide services and education to the client and family that will support long lasting recovery of mind, body, and spirit.