The Benefits of Intensive Outpatient Treatment for Addiction

Lady sitting on the beach reading a book

If you are struggling with an addiction, and it comes time to explore treatment options, one of the first decisions you will need to make is what level of care you need. While there are several different treatment options, there are certain benefits to Intensive Outpatient Programs, but this decision can be done with the help of a mental health professional or your physician.

Different Levels of Treatment Options Include:

  • Outpatient – seeing a professional once or twice a week in their office)
  • Intensive Outpatient – attending treatment several hours a day 3-7 days per week
  • Residential Treatment – living full time in a treatment setting for several weeks to several months
  • Inpatient – a shorter stay in a hospital-like setting

Many professionals (and insurance companies) will recommend you begin with an intensive outpatient program (IOP) and research indicates that “they are as effective as inpatient treatment for most individuals seeking care.” This is great news because there are a number of benefits to an IOP program.

Benefits of Intensive Outpatient Programs

Maintaining Connection with Your Friends and Family

Treatment can be challenging. Attending an IOP program allows you to stay connected to your friends and family more easily. When in a residential or inpatient program your phone time, visitation and personal freedoms will be limited.

When participating in IOP Substance Abuse Programs, you are only in the facility a portion of the day. This allows you to stay in close contact with your support network, tell them how you are doing, and receive emotional support in person.

Connecting with Others Who Can Relate to You

Friends discussing Benefits of Intensive Outpatient ProgramsAt the same time, IOP will give you the chance to meet others who are struggling with the same issues you are facing.

This is a vital part of reducing shame, increasing your insight, and being challenged to make changes.

Some of the best feedback you receive will likely come from your peers, not just the professionals.

Real-time Support and Insight into Your Triggers and Urges

When in residential or inpatient level of care, many of the triggers and opportunities to use an addictive substance will be removed. This is certainly helpful and necessary for many who want to recover.

That being said, the transition out of these levels of care can feel like a shock to the system. IOP allows you to continue many of your daily routines, experience triggers, and still find the support of a treatment team.

Remember though, this only works if you practice brutal honesty with your team. They will be helpful only to the point you allow them into your world.

Intensive Outpatient is not for everyone. Not everyone needs that level of treatment, and some need far more structure. However, it is a great option to consider.


About the Author:

Travis StewartTravis Stewart, LPC has been mentoring others since 1992 and became a Licensed Professional Counselor in 2005. His counseling approach is relational and creative, helping people understand their story while also building hope for the future. Travis has experience with a wide variety of issues which might lead people to seek out professional counseling help. This includes special interest in helping those with compulsive and addictive behaviors such as internet and screen addiction, eating disorders, anxiety, and perfectionism. Specifically, he has worked with eating disorders since 2003 and has learned from many of the field’s leading experts. He has worked with hundreds of individuals facing life-threatening eating disorders in all levels of treatment.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed and Approved by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 13, 2019
Published September 13, 2019, on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.