IOP vs OP: What's the Difference?

Which Program is Right for You?

There’s a perception among many Americans that residential (inpatient) addiction treatment options return better results in terms of clients being able to maintain a lasting recovery. 

While there are many benefits to going to residential treatment, sometimes outpatient and intensive outpatient programs are the best options. But what’s the difference between these two forms of treatment?

Types of Outpatient Treatment Options

Within the drug and alcohol addiction treatment community, there’s a number of different outpatient options available for clients.

The three most prominent options include:

  • Partial Hospitalization (PHP)
  • Intensive Outpatient (IOP)
  • and Standard Outpatient (OP)

The level of care someone begins at should be determined based on the initial assessments conducted by the admissions and clinical teams. The partial hospitalization option can be prohibitive for clients who need a bit of scheduling flexibility. Generally, a PHP is going to require the client to report for treatment 5 days a week for 6 to 8 hours a day. While the PHP option is far less restrictive than residential treatment, it still requires a heavy time commitment on the client’s part, something that’s not always possible. It is important to remember that this phase of the program can last anywhere from as little as 2 weeks to 3 months. A persons time in the PHP stage is determined based on their individual needs.

In the next section, the discussion is going to focus on why clients might prefer or need outpatient treatment.

In addition to physical cravings, someone with an addiction issue will also spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about their drug of choice. These thoughts become a compulsion and impossible to control, which leads to drug-seeking behavior that can sometimes be criminal.

Feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, despair, and the like are often at the root of substance abuse. The substance might temporarily mask these feelings, but they return once the high wears off, creating a vicious circle of drug abuse.

Taking a substance will temporarily stop the cravings and compulsion for it, but soon the same feelings return. In time, it takes more and more of the same substance to achieve the same effect it once had.

People addicted to drugs and alcohol may feel like they have no control over their drug use. Refraining from using or stopping seems to be an impossibility for them. The substance controls them, rather than the other way around.

Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol will continue to seek them out even if their addiction has made them lose friends, family, spouses, and jobs. Drug-seeking behavior can even lead to diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

Reasons Why Outpatient Treatment Might Be Preferred

Residential treatment is necessary in very specific situations.

For example, when a person is struggling with chronic relapse and needs to leave their environment, residential treatment might be the best option in early recovery. Many people benefit from going to outpatient treatment because of the support they receive from loved ones, and it’s often the best option for those who must continue going to work or school.

When outpatient treatment becomes a client’s clear choice, it’s usually for one or more of the following reasons:

  • The client has work or school responsibilities that cannot be allocated to others
  • As the family’s primary breadwinner, the client cannot afford to miss time from work without suffering financial consequences
  • The client has primary child care or elderly care responsibilities
  • The client’s addiction is not severe enough to warrant the restrictiveness of residential treatment
  • The client has already attended a detox center or residential program and is looking for a step-down option

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment Versus Standard Outpatient Treatment

Working under the assumption that PHP might be too restrictive based on your personal circumstances, the rest of this discussion will focus on the other two outpatient options: IOP and OP.

If you live in or around the Los Angeles, CA area, you’ll likely be most interested in a Los Angeles IOP or OP program. There are differences between these two forms of treatment, and many of them are minor. Learning about the differences can help you or a loved one get the treatment that will best ensure long-term recovery.

First, intensive outpatient programs require clients to report for treatment 3 to 5 days a week for 4 to 6 hours a day. A standard outpatient program only requires clients to attend treatment 1 to 3 days a week for 1 to 3 hours per session. In both cases, treatment could last for as long as several months. With that said, it’s fair to assume that clients getting treatment under the OP option will find the door to recovery a little faster than clients in other outpatient programs.

In both Los Angeles IOP and OP treatment settings, clients will be drug tested. Due to the fact that the clients aren’t living in the facility and will be out and about, drug testing is necessary. This isn’t necessarily to “catch” people who are drinking or using drugs, but it’s a form of accountability. Knowing you’ll be drug tested regularly reduces the chances of use. For some, recovery isn’t linear, and knowing whether the current treatment program is working or not can help the treatment team nurture the person’s recovery in the best way possible.

Intensive outpatient programs, as well as outpatient programs, also have group therapy sessions. These are great forms of therapy because people are with others who are also on the path of recovery. In these group sessions, a therapist leads the group through different topics of conversation, and clients receive feedback from their peers. This is extremely beneficial because in the group setting, you see that you’re not alone in the challenges you’re facing.

Throughout the treatment process in both IOP and OP, therapists and case managers track the progress of the clients. As the person progresses through the program, they’re treatment plan may change slightly. Each day presents new challenges as well as the opportunity to celebrate successes, and this is how clients get the individualized treatment plan they need to recover.

What to Expect During IOP Los Angeles Treatment

If you are wondering what takes place during 20 to 30 hours a week of outpatient therapy, a little insight might do you well.

As the name makes clear, your time in an intensive outpatient treatment would be spent in intensive therapy. On an individual level, you would be working with a licensed therapist on a journey of self-discovery. The primary objective of individual therapy is twofold. First, you would be searching for the personal issues that seem to be driving your need to hide your feelings and emotions behind drugs or alcohol. Second, you would spend time developing better coping and life skills to protect you from future relapses. To these ends, you would need to be open and honest with your therapist(s) at all times.

During IOP Los Angeles treatment, you might also get an opportunity to participate in group therapy sessions with other clients. Group therapy sessions would afford you the opportunity to develop new friendships to replace your old drug crowd. These new friendships could become the basis of good support resources for you in the future.

Finally, there’s a chance you might get to spend time with your family in family treatment sessions. This would be the time you would want to make an effort to mend broken relationships and educate your family members about your addiction illness. Loved ones can often be a great source of support throughout the recovery process, and this will help everyone begin to heal.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the disease of addiction, and you think IOP or OP might be the best option, allow Nexus Recovery to help. If you’re unsure about which level of care is the right one, our treatment team will provide you with an assessment to assist you. Nexus Recovery is dedicated to helping people recover and repair relationships with loved ones, so contact us today for more information about how we can help.

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors.

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