IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) In Rehab Facility

Last Updated: July 2, 2021

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

When people are in need of drug rehab, residential facilities aren’t always the right path to getting clean; for some, the best option will be an intensive outpatient program. IOP allows the patients to live at home and be with their family, even go to work, while still working towards getting and staying clean. For many, IOP rehab is the best solution.

Intensive Outpatient Program: What Is It?

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are a form of drug rehab where the patient is allowed to live at home and come into the rehabilitation center each day for care. For a few hours a day, the patient engages in intensive forms of rehab therapy that target the behaviors and thought patterns driving their drug abuse.
In some cases, intensive outpatient programs for substance abuse are part of a step-down program that begins with inpatient rehab. In this case, the user starts in a residential rehab facility, transitions to a partial hospitalization program, then gets IOP services before moving into the aftercare stage.

Who Benefits From IOP The Most

Intensive outpatient program rehab can be effective when used by:

  • patients with completed detox
  • patients having a stable home
  • patients with access to transportation
  • patients with a supportive community to surround them

The above-mentioned groups can experience success with intensive outpatient rehab. It is also ideal for those who have children or other relatives to care for, need to continue working, or must go to school while getting better.
intensive outpatient program

Statistics On IOP

When intensive outpatient programs in drug rehab are compared to residential ones, the outcomes are comparable. In other words, persons who complete an inpatient rehab program are not significantly more or less likely to succeed at staying clean than their intensive outpatient program counterparts. While it is possible some patients will be better served by one rehab option over the other, neither is inherently superior.
The biggest risk with intensive outpatient rehab for drug addiction is that patients can more easily stop participating in treatment than they can at a residential facility. People who remain at home but are still surrounded by triggers and drug access are not likely to complete their course of substance abuse treatment offered by a rehab. The same is true for those without a home or transportation. As a result, just 33 percent of intensive outpatient rehab patients complete their treatment on average.
However, another factor to consider when evaluating the success of IOP classes in a rehab facility is what type of drug the patient is addicted to. Opioid abusers tend to have the worst outcomes with intensive outpatient programs, which heavily impacts the statistics on their success. Those addicted to other drugs still have high rates of success with intensive outpatient program drug rehab.

IOP Treatment: Understanding The Process

Before signing up for an intensive outpatient program in drug rehab, patients should understand what their experience might look like. The first thing to understand is that there isn’t a single formula for IOP rehab care. This means that every rehab center can offer something slightly different, and they have the freedom to tailor the course of treatment to what the people suffering from substance abuse disorder need.
intensive outpatient treatment
Some forms of therapy used in intensive outpatient program treatment include:

  • Group Therapy: This is the core therapy used in intensive outpatient treatment. Patients come together as a whole to talk, strategize, and develop skills for staying clean.
  • Family Therapy: Family therapy brings the immediate family members of the patient to the rehab center to challenge dysfunction that could be driving the addiction and establish ways they can support an addicted person.
  • Individual Therapy: Individual therapy has the patient working one-on-one with a therapist. This allows them to get more targeted feedback and plan approaches tailored to their situation.
  • Complementary Therapies: These therapies are less-traditional methods that complement group and individual therapy. They can include art, music, adventure, yoga, and horse therapies, as well as other creative activities in the rehab.
  • Support Groups: Support groups are peer-led programs such as Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous. These should be part of both rehab therapy and aftercare.
  • Medication Management: With medication management, people with substance use disorder take pharmaceutical drugs to block the effects of the drug the patient is addicted to and/or to curb cravings. This can be risky as sometimes patients become addicted to these new drugs.
  • Detoxification: In some cases, an IOP program may choose to offer detox services to people with substance use disorder who are not likely to experience dangerous effects from withdrawing from their drug of choice.
  • Matrix Model: This model is specifically used to treat patients addicted to uppers. The focus is on developing high self-esteem and self-regard. It can incorporate many different forms of rehab therapy as well as drug testing, education, and relapse analysis.

Intensive Outpatient Program Schedule And Duration


How long an intensive outpatient program in drug rehab lasts depends on the rehab center offering the care and the needs of the patient. In general, 12 weeks is the shortest duration while most courses of treatment run in the range of 16 to 20 weeks. Others can last as long as a year if that is what the patient wants, and the drug facility agrees to it. A user will not know how long an intensive outpatient program is until they talk to the rehab provider.


Likewise, the intensive outpatient program schedule also varies. Most programs strive to get 10-12 hours of therapy for a patient per week. These hours can be divided up over any number of days and can take place in the morning, afternoon, or evening. For example, someone who needs to work while going through rehab therapy might opt for three hours of therapy four days a week, with an hour in the morning before work doing individual sessions and two hours in the afternoon or evening after their workday is done in group sessions or complementary therapies.

IOP Treatment Cost

The intensive outpatient program cost also varies by the rehab center. Some of these programs are provided by free rehab centers, and many are covered by insurance providers in part or in full, including Medicaid. IOP payment is generally measured on a day to day basis rather than for a full time of treatment. Most programs fall into the range of $250-350 per day, though there are some that can cost as much as $500 per day.

No matter the financial situation of the user, there are intensive outpatient programs that are accessible to them. While it may take a bit of research, the correct fit is out there. Alternatively, state-funded rehab centers, as well as no-insurance rehab facilities, are good options for those who cannot afford to pay for treatment.

Why Intensive Outpatient Program

Intensive outpatient programs in rehab give patients a lot of flexibility to work, care for family, and maintain the vital relationships that will make recovery possible. However, people with SUD need to ensure that IOP treatment in general and their course of treatment, in particular, is well suited to them. Ultimately, there are many types of rehab programs patients can choose from, and with the right one, they can live a clean and healthy life.

Page Sources

  1. Stahler GJ, Mennis J, DuCette JP. Residential and outpatient treatment completion for substance use disorders in the U.S.: Moderation analysis by demographics and drug of choice. Addictive Behaviors. 2016; 58: 129-35. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.02.030.
  2. Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS) 2012: Discharges from Substance Abuse Treatment Services. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES.

Published on: July 29th, 2019

Updated on: July 2nd, 2021

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.