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Intensive Outpatient Programs in recovery play a significant role. In recognizing National Recovery Month we are going to take a closer look at IOPs and their effectiveness. When choosing the best treatment program for the individual, they and their loved ones will need to decide whether inpatient (staying at the facility) or outpatient (remain at home throughout treatment) would be best. An inpatient treatment program would be more intensive and likely a lot more costly. Aside from those factors, it is important that the provider and treatment setting in in alignment with your goals for treatment. For example, in some programs the only approach offered is to work towards complete abstinence, so if complete abstinence from drinking and/or drugs isn’t your goal, this may not be the best treatment program for you.

Relapse is Not Failure

People who have been in treatment for problem drinking often relapse. When they are under stress or find themselves in the company of people drinking or enter an establishment they used to enjoy drinking at, it can trigger the urge to drink again. While inpatient treatment protects individuals from relapse triggers, intensive outpatient programs in recovery allow the individual to be exposed to the stresses and strains of ordinary life.  Sooner or later, all people in recovery will need to face these triggers and intensive outpatient treatment plays an important role in supporting and working with the addict in his or her recovery environment.

A relapse should be considered a temporary set back, and not a failure. If you’ve chosen an Intensive Outpatient Program in recovery, you will be living at home while receiving treatment to cope with any problems you’re having adjusting to your new lifestyle. Behavioral therapies are designed to help you develop the kind of coping skills needed to overcome stressful situations that could trigger the familiar urge of turning to alcohol.

Mental Health Issues Often Accompany Alcohol Use Disorder 

People suffering from anxiety and depression often resort to heavy drinking to self-medicate. Studies have shown that alcoholics are two or three times more apt to suffer from anxiety and/or major depression over their lifetime. When treating people with alcohol dependence, it is vital that any other mental health issues they’re dealing with be treated as well. This is what’s called integrated treatment for dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders. This holds true as well when patients enter an Intensive Outpatient Program in recovery for an addiction that is co-occurring with one or more mental health disorder(s).

SAMHSA Conclusions on Intensive Outpatient Programs 

In recognition of National Recovery Month we would like to mention that the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsored research that discovered quite a bit of evidence that IOPs can be just as effective as residential and/or inpatient treatment programs when recovering from substance abuse. Research done on these programs consistently shows equivalent reductions in number of days abstinent and in levels of problem severity between those who received treatment in IOPs, day treatment, residential or inpatient care.

The authors of the study concluded that IOPs might be more beneficial than brief but intensive interventions, such as hospitalization. A vital factor apparently is being able to receive treatment for a longer duration in an IOP, as opposed to receiving very intense treatment for a shorter time period in an inpatient or residential program. Overall, these studies found no difference in the outcomes for patients receiving treatment in outpatient vs. inpatient settings, with participants in both reporting 50% to 70% abstinence at follow-up. The SAMHSA study said that treatment duration, cost, and living at home within the community should be the main factors taken into consideration when comparing inpatient treatment with an Intensive Outpatient Program in recovery for people suffering from substance use disorders. While there are a variety of factors to consider, IOP should be a serious consideration at some point in your recovery.  If that time is now, please call us to set up an intake assessment.

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