Intensive Outpatient Program

Written By: Facility Staff

Edited By: Editorial Team

Published Date: 08/18/23

Last Updated: 08/18/23

The intensive outpatient program (IOP) at Otter House Wellness is a structured, comprehensive treatment option for people in addiction recovery.

IOPs provide a higher level of care than traditional outpatient services while allowing you to maintain your daily activities and responsibilities.

These outpatient programs address a range of mental health and behavioral health disorders, including substance abuse, depression, and anxiety.

Find out more about intensive outpatient treatment, and how Otter House Wellness tailors IOPs to the needs of each program participant.

About Intensive Outpatient Programs in Addiction Recovery

Intensive outpatient programs typically involve a combination of treatments to meet the varying needs of people seeking mental health treatment.

Some of the treatment services you can find in IOPs include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Psychoeducation
  • Counseling
  • Medication management
  • Discharge planning
  • Aftercare

The program’s intensity and duration may vary, but generally, IOPs require a significant time commitment. 

They may require fewer hours than partial hospitalization programs, but may be similar in terms of treatment intensity.

IOPs vs Other Levels of Care in North Carolina

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) offer a unique approach to recovery care that bridges the gap between inpatient care and outpatient treatment. 

Key features of intensive outpatient programs include: 

  • Structured treatment environment: IOPs offer specialized care that allows people to fulfill daily responsibilities, such as work, school, and family commitments. IOP structure is similar in intensity to PHPs and IOPs, with fewer hours required.
  • High level of support and accountability: Participants in these programs often benefit from the close-knit community that develops within the group therapy sessions. This benefit is on par with that of more intensive programs, like inpatient rehab.
  • Supportive and encouraging environment, which is crucial for those navigating the challenges of recovery. Top rehab programs, whether outpatient or residential, should all feature supportive environments.
  • Multiple treatment methods: A variety of treatments allows people to seek the care that’s best for them and target all mental health issues at the same time.
  • Lower cost than other higher-commitment programs, like PHP or inpatient rehab.

Types of Health Conditions Treated in IOPs

At Otter House Wellness, our primary treatment concern is substance use disorders, such as drug abuse or alcohol addiction.

This includes prescription medication addiction. However, addiction and mental health issues often go hand in hand.

All of our treatment programs, including IOP, also offer dual diagnosis care, which addresses both substance abuse and mental health issues at the same time.

What Are the Benefits of Intensive Outpatient Programs?

If you or a loved one are considering an IOP to start your recovery journey, here are the main benefits you may enjoy during your treatment plan.

Accessibility and Affordability Compared to Inpatient Treatment

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) offer a more accessible and affordable alternative to inpatient treatment.

This makes them a viable option for many people seeking comprehensive care for their mental health or addiction issues. 

Unlike inpatient treatment, which often requires individuals to reside in a facility for an extended period, IOPs allow you to receive the treatment you need while continuing to live at home. 

Ability to Maintain Daily Routines and Responsibilities

IOPs allow participants to maintain their daily routines and responsibilities while receiving treatment. 

This aspect is particularly important for those who cannot put work or family commitments on hold for an extended period.

In IOPs, you can work, attend school, or take care of your families by participating in an IOP while still receiving treatment and support. 

Individualized Treatment Plans and Therapy Sessions

Intensive outpatient programs at Otter House Wellness offer treatment plans and therapy sessions tailored to your specific recovery needs. 

During the initial assessment phase, clinicians and therapists work with you to understand your treatment needs, strengths, and areas for improvement. 

This comprehensive evaluation helps them design a treatment plan that uses evidence-based therapies to address your concerns effectively.

Supportive Group Settings

Group therapy sessions in IOPs allow you to connect with others experiencing similar mental health or addiction challenges. 

This sense of belonging and shared experience can be immensely comforting and validating, reducing feelings of isolation and the shame of stigma. 

Within these group settings, you can share your stories, offer support, and learn from others’ experiences. 

Family Support in Recovery

In addition to group therapy, IOPs often incorporate family therapy sessions, where loved ones can participate in the treatment process. 

These sessions educate family members about your condition, foster understanding, and provide a platform for open communication. 

IOPs recognize the importance of a supportive and informed network in the recovery journey and the need to involve family.

Developing Coping Skills and Relapse Prevention Strategies

Intensive outpatient programs work to equip you with the necessary coping skills and relapse prevention strategies to navigate recovery. 

Recovery is a lifelong process, and you will need the tools to sustain your progress beyond the treatment period. 

Through various therapies, such as individual counseling, group therapy, and psychoeducation, you will learn valuable coping mechanisms to manage stress, regulate emotions, and address triggers effectively. 

These skills empower you to develop healthier ways of dealing with challenges and setbacks, reducing the risk of relapse.

How Do Intensive Outpatient Programs Work?

The way IOP programs work will vary from one treatment center to the next, but there are some services, goals, and features you can find standard in all IOPs.

IOP Goals in Addiction Recovery

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) work to offer structured, intensive treatment that allows you to maintain your daily routines and responsibilities.

The primary goal of IOPs is to provide comprehensive care for addiction and mental health issues that sets you up for recovery success.

Your personal recovery goals during IOP may be different. 

People who seek IOP programs may want to work on:

  • Managing mental health and addiction concerns
  • Addressing the symptoms and underlying causes of SUDs
  • Gaining tools and coping strategies to navigate the recovery journey

Flexible Scheduling of IOPs

A key advantage of IOPs is that they offer flexible treatment schedules. 

Unlike residential treatment programs that require individuals to reside at a treatment facility, IOPs allow participants to attend therapy sessions and receive treatment during the day 

This means they can return home in the evenings. Although IOPs provide flexibility, they maintain a structure to give participants the support and accountability they need. 

Comprehensive Care Team

Top IOPs offer a multidisciplinary care team to help you achieve your recovery goals.

These healthcare professionals will each offer a different aspect of care to address the health issues you need during recovery.

You may interact with clinicians, psychiatrists, counselors, various therapists, and other professionals in treatment each day or throughout the week.

Evidence-Based Therapies

IOPs that rely on evidence-based therapies have shown higher success rates. 

Some therapies you may find in our Otter House Wellness IOP:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy that helps you identify thought and behavior patterns that contribute to your conditions
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), which combines CBT and mindfulness techniques to help you develop coping strategies
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI), which helps you focus on the motivational processes within you that can facilitate change
  • Group therapy, which places you in a setting with peers to share and discuss your challenges, fears, and thoughts on recovery
  • Family therapy, which allows your closest loved ones to participate in the recovery process
  • Individual therapy, or private counseling that allows you to do the most important work of recovery, the work on your inner healing

These therapies have been extensively researched and proven effective in addressing mental health and addiction issues.

IOPs in the Addiction Treatment Continuum of Care

After completing an inpatient program, people often face the challenge of transitioning back into their regular lives while maintaining their progress. 

IOPs provide a crucial step down in this process, offering continued support and treatment to ensure a seamless transition. 

Moreover, IOPs are a vital resource for people who may not need the intensity of inpatient treatment but still need a higher level of support than traditional outpatient therapy can provide. 

IOPs offer a solution for people who must attend frequent therapy sessions, receive medication management, and have access to a supportive community. 

The structured, yet flexible features of IOPs help prevent relapse and promote long-term recovery. 

Who Will Benefit from IOPs in North Carolina?

Intensive outpatient treatment programs are designed to help people facing severe mental illness and behavioral health issues, such as substance abuse or depression.

Some programs are available for adolescents, while others are designed for adults only. 

How to Enter an IOP for Recovery in North Carolina

Seeking an intensive outpatient program (IOP) in North Carolina can be a crucial step toward recovery for people facing mental health or addiction issues. 

To ensure a smooth and efficient admissions process, follow this step-by-step guide.

1. Get an Initial Assessment

The first step in seeking admission to an IOP in North Carolina is getting an initial assessment.

A licensed healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or clinical social worker, typically conducts this assessment. 

The assessment will evaluate your mental health or addiction, determine the severity of it, and assess your suitability for outpatient care, like IOPs.

2. Ask for a Referral or Make a Self-Referral

After the initial assessment, your primary care physician, therapist, or other healthcare professionals may refer you to an IOP. 

Or, you can seek an IOP if you believe it is the appropriate level of care for your needs.

3. Reach Out to the IOP

Call the IOP’s admissions department or visit their website to gather information about the admission process, required paperwork, and specific instructions.

For the Otter House Wellness IOP, you can reach out 24 hours a day to speak to a treatment specialist about our specially designed treatment programs.

4. Gather Paperwork and Documentation

To complete the admissions process, you will need to provide certain paperwork and documentation. 

These documents may include:

  • Personal identification documents
  • Insurance information
  • Medical history
  • Previous treatment records

Ensure all the necessary paperwork is accurately completed and submitted promptly.

5. Consider the Cost and Payment Options

You will need to verify your insurance coverage and determine your share of financial responsibility, such as copayments or deductibles. 

Some IOPs may offer financial assistance or sliding scale fees based on income, so it is worth inquiring about these options.

Otter House Wellness works with many insurance programs, including:

  • Aetna
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Cigna
  • Geha
  • Magellan
  • Medcost
  • Meritain Health
  • UnitedHealthcare

Eligibility Requirements for IOP Enrollment

IOP enrollment requires you to meet specific eligibility criteria. These criteria ensure you receive the appropriate level of care based on the severity of your mental health or addiction issues.

Here are the eligibility factors considered for IOP program participants:

Severity of Mental Health or Addiction Issues

Patients must have severe mental health or addiction issues to be eligible for IOP enrollment. 

Severity is typically assessed during the initial evaluation. It is based on various factors, such as:

  • Condition’s impact on daily functioning
  • Presence of co-occurring disorders
  • Your ability to engage in treatment

Commitment to Treatment

Enrollment in an IOP requires you to commit to treatment and recovery. 

This includes a willingness to:

  • Actively participate in therapy sessions
  • Attend group sessions
  • Adhere to the treatment plan outlined by healthcare professionals

Medical Stability

If you’re seeking enrollment in an IOP, you have to be medically stable. 

This means any medical conditions or physical health issues that require immediate attention, like detox, should be addressed before starting an IOP. 

Medical stability ensures you can fully engage in the treatment process without compromising your well-being.

How Long Are IOPs?

IOPs typically take place over fewer hours than partial hospitalization programs. An IOP may require 2 to 4 hours per day, 3-5 days per week.

The overall length of the program will vary by the treatment facility, but could be anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks, or longer based on your needs and insurance coverage.

How Effective Are Intensive Outpatient Programs?

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) have gained attention in recent years as a viable treatment option for mental health issues and addiction. 

Research on the Effectiveness of IOPs

A 2005 study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that IOP participants experienced improved substance use outcomes and reduced relapse rates. 

A study published in Psychiatric Services showed that intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) play a vital role in treating alcohol and drug use disorders, proving their effectiveness comparable to inpatient care

Factors for Successful Outcomes

Several key factors can significantly influence the effectiveness of IOPs.

Factors that lend to success in IOPs include the individualized care aspect and the ongoing support through relapse prevention strategies and community.

Who Will Not Benefit from IOPs?

IOPs may not be suitable for people with severe addictions and mental health conditions. 

People undergoing withdrawal and who need detoxification, for instance, may require round-the-clock monitoring and immediate access to medical help. 

Mental health conditions such as acute psychosis, severe bipolar disorder, or active suicidal ideation often require inpatient care for safety and stabilization. 

What to Look for in IOP Providers in North Carolina

Not all addiction medicine providers are built the same. And treatment for mental health disorders should be a decision that is not made lightly.

Here is what you should look for in a high-quality, evidence-based treatment facility that offers intensive outpatient programs.

High Participant Satisfaction Rate

When a program is successful, people will praise it. Be sure the treatment facility or psychiatric hospital you choose is highly rated by past clients and their families.

Otter House Wellness has a 5-star Google rating with multiple testimonials from satisfied clients.

Accreditation, Certifications, and Licensing

Top IOP treatment providers will hold licensing through the state of North Carolina and adhere to the strict standards set for addiction recovery care.

Those treatment centers that go above and beyond may seek accreditation from a third party, like the Joint Commission or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

Finally, some facilities also seek certifications through partnering organizations, signifying their commitment to providing high-quality care.

Start Your Recovery Journey in an Intensive Outpatient Program

No matter what phase of recovery you’re in, there is a program that’s right for you. 

At Otter House Wellness, we offer a full continuum of care to help you succeed in recovery. Whether you need partial hospitalization, an IOP, or aftercare, we can help.

Connect with us today to learn more about our individual treatment programs. 

We accept a range of national and North Carolina insurance providers, and we can design a treatment plan that will help you begin your sober path.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the difference between inpatient and intensive outpatient treatment?

The main difference between inpatient treatment and IOPs is that inpatient care has an overnight stay requirement.

That is, participants reside at the facility for the entire duration of their treatment stay, anywhere from 2 weeks to 90 days, depending on their needs.

For IOPs, participants get treatment during the day and leave the facility afterward.

Can an IOP cure you of addiction?

IOP cannot cure you of addiction — no treatment program is a cure. 

Addiction treatment works to manage substance abuse and mental health issues, since the disorder is a lifelong affliction that requires management and ongoing care.

How much does an IOP cost?

The cost of an IOP will vary based on a number of factors. If you have treatment coverage, your out-of-pocket costs should be much lower.

Before insurance, costs can range from $200 to $300 or more per day, depending on the treatment center

If you have 60% treatment coverage, for instance, this means you would pay $80 to $120 per day after insurance.


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