IOP Treatment for Alcoholism: Continue Working & Living at Home

Woman struggling with work addiction

Attending Intensive Outpatient Programming (IOP) is often an important step in an individual’s recovery process, but it can also be stressful. It means taking 3 hours out of each day, 6 days a week, not including personal therapy or nutritional counseling. It can be especially challenging for those who are working in or outside of the home to balance recovery with everyday life.

Typically, IOP is for individuals who are medically stable and do not meet the diagnostic criteria for residential or inpatient treatment [1]. IOP is offered at a minimum of 9 hours per week and some run all days of the week. This type of treatment allows you to work your sobriety, live at home, and continue with work or school schedules.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), they have set core services to be offered in an IOP rehab program. These programs need to include individual, group, and family therapy on a weekly basis, and provide psychoeducation around alcohol and substance use, as well as mental disorders [1].

They are designed to help individuals learn coping strategies to relapse triggers, gain a support system, and address any underlying issues of their addiction.

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

Intensive outpatient addiction treatment can be highly effective.

The group therapy nature of IOP means that individuals have others they can connect to who share similar thoughts and behaviors. This creates a sense of community, a bond with one another where they can find support and encouragement. Too often, alcoholic participants do not have many supportive individuals remaining in their life, and knowing that there is a safe space to talk and share experiences and skills can be extremely helpful [2].

Being able to balance IOP with living at home and working is to first attend all IOP groups your treatment teams asks you to attend. Go to all of your therapy sessions, AA meetings, and support groups. You want to be surrounded by others who are at various stages within the recovery process and who have been where you are.

By attending these recovery focused groups, you can learn to become more self-aware which is essential for recovery and sobriety.

Balancing it All in Addiction Treatment

Work your therapy. All modalities of alcohol recovery can be beneficial, but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is significantly effective in achieving sobriety. It helps you develop new patterns of thinking, gain new coping skills to face situations that might be triggering, and identify and express your feelings.

Man struggling with addiction

Attending psychoeducational groups or speakers at your AA meetings can be helpful to hear how others have managed sobriety, prevented relapse, and coped with old behaviors. They often can include art or music therapy, yoga, drama therapy and outside activities which are all helpful if you have difficulty expressing yourself verbally [2].

Set goals for yourself within your therapy, your recovery, and your personal life. Knowing what you would like your sober life to look like, and setting manageable goals to get to that end is essential. It helps you plan out how you will achieve each step. Goals can be empowering and help you to keep moving forward.

Getting your family and loved ones involved in your recovery process is also essential to managing both IOP and living at home.

It can help to have loved ones as moral support, attend educational workshops or seminars with you, or/and attend family therapy sessions.

Stop hiding in the addiction and share your struggle. It can also be empowering and give you a sense of control over your disease.

IOP rehab can be a safe place for you to practice alcohol-free coping skills, open up about underlying issues, and find a support system. It also allows you to practice your skills learned in programming in everyday life immediately [3].

You can go home and see what skills or tools work, and which need more support. You can share with your IOP members and clinical team how your everyday life practice went each day. It allows you to identify barriers and work through them as well.

What About My Job?

Within the workplace, if there is an individual who is struggling with alcoholism, you can qualify under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) [4]. This means that your boss cannot discriminate against you if you have a history or current use of substance abuse.

Working from home and alcoholism

The employer can, however, prohibit the use of alcohol or substances within the workplace. It is not a violation of the ADA if the employer requests a drug test and the ADA does not cover a person who was a casual drug or alcohol user and did not become addicted.

The ADA states that employers can “require employees to not be under the influence of alcohol in the workplace, and hold an employee with alcoholism to the same employment standards to which the employer holds other employees even if the unsatisfactory performance or behavior is related to the alcoholism” [4].

Also under the ADA, employers can discipline or terminate the employee if the use of alcohol affects their job performance or to the ability that they are not qualified due to alcohol use.

“Reasonable accommodations” are allowed for those who are struggling with alcoholism and you are allowed a modified work schedule to attend treatment under the ADA. FMLA, or Family Medical Leave Act, can also be used when seeking IOP treatment while maintaining employment [5].

Choosing IOP can be scary when thinking about balancing your job with family life, or just moving back home. Knowing that there are supportive clinicians and individuals who understand your challenges to sobriety can help you on your path to recovery.


Image of Libby Lyons and familyAbout the Author: Libby Lyons is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS). Libby has been practicing in the field of eating disorders, addictions, depression, anxiety and other comorbid issues in various agencies. Libby has previously worked as a contractor for the United States Air Force Domestic Violence Program, Saint Louis University Student Health and Counseling, Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute Eating Disorders Program, and has been in Private Practice.
Libby currently works as a counselor at Fontbonne University and is a Adjunct Professor at Saint Louis University, and is a contributing author for Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope. Libby lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys spending time with her family, running, and watching movies.


[1] McCarthy, D., Braude, L., & Lyman, R. (n.d.). Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence. Retrieved May 31, 2017, from
[2] Debbie Stone, LCSW Debbie Stone, LCSW. (n.d.). Debbie Stone, LCSW. Retrieved June 1, 2017, from
[3] Find a Treatment Facility. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2017, from
[4] (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2017, from
[5] UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. (n.d.). Retrieved June, 2017, from

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 discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of 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.

Published July 20, 2017
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 20, 2017.
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About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.