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Do I Really Need an Intensive Outpatient Program after Treatment?

Once you’ve completed an inpatient addiction and mental health treatment program you may be eager to finally go back home and start a brand new life in recovery. Though you got off to a rough start, your treatment has gone remarkably well. You now feel that you’ve finally gotten your unwanted behaviors under control, and have all the tools you need to manage any negative emotions or conflicts that come your way without drinking, using, or slipping back into old unhealthy habits. As you are drawing near the end of your treatment program, your therapist says to you “I recommend that you spend some time in an intensive outpatient program (IOP) before you go home.”

“But… I’m fine now.” You say. “I’ve gone through this program with flying colors! I am like a brand new person now! Why do I need more treatment?”

Should I Go To An IOP?

The first few months—sometimes even the first few years—of recovery is a vulnerable time. It is not uncommon for those new to recovery to relapse soon after completing inpatient treatment. Even people who were very dedicated to getting sober and left inpatient treatment feeling like there was no way they would ever relapse, often end up relapsing.

Good inpatient treatment programs are designed to remove any outside obstacles, temptations, or distractions that might get in the way of your recovery. You don’t have access to alcohol or drugs in treatment, like you would in the “real world.” You aren’t surrounded by people, places and things that you associate with your addiction or disorder. You don’t have to deal with the usual day-to-day stresses of life. You don’t have to cook meals, drive through rush hour traffic to get to work, or manage difficult relationships with your partner, children, or roommates at home.

This is not to say that everything is always sunshine and rainbows in rehab—you will have bad days, conflicts will come up, and you’ll be overwhelmed sometimes by your emotions and fears. But, when those things do come up, there are always staff and peers available to support you through them, and to make sure you are in a safe and secure setting.

When you leave inpatient treatment, all of the old temptations, triggers and frustrations are out there waiting for you. If you haven’t had a chance to build a safety net to fall into after you leave treatment, you could find yourself relapsing, very quickly. Without the additional time, support, encouragement, and resources you need to build your safety net, and the chance to find your footing as a newly sober person, it can be much too easy to give up and return to all of your old unhealthy coping mechanisms.

How Does An Intensive Outpatient Program Work?

When you’re in outpatient treatment, you take part in treatment sessions at the outpatient facility, but you do not live there. Intensive Outpatient Programs tend to offer sessions several times a week that may last several hours per day. (Regular Outpatient programs may only have sessions once or twice a week.) Sessions are typically offered in the daytime and evening to accommodate work, school, or family schedules.

The length of the program can vary, depending on your needs and your therapist’s or treatment team’s recommendations. Some people participate in an IOP for a few weeks, and some go up to a year. Many programs also provide additional services on top of the group therapy and counseling sessions.

Brain SpaFor example, The Meadows Outpatient Center treatment program offers group therapy four days per week, three hours per day, for eight weeks. In addition to group therapy, clients attend individual therapy sessions with our Master’s level and licensed clinicians, and may be treated through of a combination of therapeutic methods, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Somatic Experiencing (SE), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). And, we have a Meadows psychiatrist available on-site for weekly medication management and psychiatric evaluations as needed.

We also offer clients the latest neurofeedback techniques led by our Master’s level, licensed trauma therapist in our Brain Center. The Brain Center also has a dedicated meditation room with recliners, soft lighting, and music. Trauma Sensitive Yoga, art therapy, and family participation are also integrated into our IOP, to round out our holistic approach to healing the mind, body, and spirit.

Enroll in The Meadows IOP

The Meadows Behavioral Healthcare family is a safe and nurturing community where individuals are guided on their journey of recovery by examining the underlying causes of addiction and co-occurring disorders. Our primary goal is for each patient to gain the courage to face difficult issues, confront grief and loss, heal from emotional trauma, and become accountable for their own feelings, behaviors, and recovery. If you or someone you love needs treatment, we’re here to help.