What exactly are intensive outpatient treatment programs (IOPs)? One article describes them as “direct services for people with substance use disorders or co-occurring mental and substance use disorders who do not require medical detoxification or 24-hour supervision.”

IOP can be a great option for those who have a healthy living situation, reliable transportation, and responsibilities that don’t necessarily allow for 24-hour care. However, inpatient care may be better for those who do need more support in these areas or who need a 24/7 focus on recovery.

Is IOP Right for Me?

If you’re questioning whether inpatient or outpatient care is best for you at this time, we hope this article will give you some clarity. What may work for somebody else may not necessarily work for you, and it’s important to accurately assess your situation to figure out what will benefit you most in the long term.

Weighing the pros and cons of the different forms of treatment is an important step because, at the end of the day, you want to choose what will best suit you. Being realistic and honest with yourself is essential for achieving your goals and maintaining your progress after you leave whatever program you choose.

Importance of a Healthy Living Environment

IOP is not recommended for people who do not have a stable and healthy living situation. If your environment will enable you or will not support you in reaching your goals for sobriety and overall wellbeing, outpatient may not be the best option for you.

Your environment must be filled with loving and supportive people who will encourage you through your entire treatment process. You most definitely will face a lot of frustration if your home life is filled with triggers and toxicity that amplify your illnesses and traumas. It would be a waste to put a large amount of your time and energy into treatment and healing while living in a situation that is actively damaging your physical, emotional, and mental health.

When it comes to therapy, a lot of the work is done outside of meetings, in your active day-to-day life. It can be especially challenging to stay on track with your goals and maintain consistency when the people in your environment go against what you are trying to accomplish. If you choose to start an outpatient program, be sure that you have the right people around you. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn says, “You’re the average of the five people spend the most time with.”

Inpatient programs can provide you with a healthy and supportive environment during this crucial time. If your home environment is unhealthy or if you do not have reliable transportation, inpatient care will likely be a better option than outpatient care, including IOP.

Pros of IOP

Typically, IOP is less expensive than inpatient programs. If cost is of concern, IOP could be a better option for you. Outpatient care may also allow you to keep your job or stay in school and maintain your responsibilities. If you have children or people to care for, this may be the best route for you to take.

Outpatient care can be flexible in other ways too. There are levels of outpatient, and your level and type of treatment can be adjusted as you go. This means as you move forward and accomplish your goals, you may be able to decrease the frequency or intensity of treatment and increase the amount of energy you can spend on other responsibilities. If you feel your current level of treatment is not enough, there are often options to add more to your program to make it better for you.

Some people assume that outpatient care is easier than inpatient, but that’s not the case. You can still have just as much success with an IOP as you would in an inpatient facility. Also, the work required for recovery in an IOP can be as much, if not more than the work you would do in inpatient treatment.

Outpatient care usually aims to get clients involved in activities and events which allows room to build long-lasting relationships and a sense of community.

Cons of IOP

Although IOP offers a lot of benefits, some aspects make it less ideal for certain individuals. For example, IOP does not include medical detox, and some substances on which people become physically dependent require 24-hour supervision for clients’ safety during this process. For people who feel that they will very easily relapse if they are outside of the walls of treatment, outpatient is probably not the best option.

There is a higher chance of relapse in the beginning stages of recovery because there has not been much time yet for the body to heal from the effects of substance use or for the person in recovery to develop mindfulness and other healthy coping mechanisms to resist relapse. This can be especially difficult for people in outpatient treatment because they aren’t monitored at all times and may have access to substances. If the at-home living situation is not the healthiest, this also allows for more distractions from recovery and treatment. The access to counselors and therapists is also a bit more limited than with inpatient because you aren’t in the same building with them all hours of the day.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient

Considering how your situation fits the factors listed above, you may have a better idea of whether inpatient or outpatient care will work best for you at this stage. If you still have questions or are unsure which direction to take, feel free to reach out to 449 Recovery knowing that you will be receiving trustworthy information from knowledgeable and experienced professionals.

At 449 Recovery, we understand that IOP is not best for everyone, but we’re happy to answer any of your questions and explain this type of treatment more in-depth. Every type of program has pros and cons, and there is no cookie-cutter perfect fit. However, aspects of IOP may make it a better option for some people. Mental health treatment depends on the individual and what they are looking to get out of their program. The environment and life that you have outside of treatment also play a large part in your decision, and we understand that everyone’s situation looks different. We encourage you to do your own research, reach out, ask questions, and take time in considering your options. Call 449 Recovery at (949) 435-7449 today to explore your options and learn which type of treatment will be best for your needs.