Intensive Outpatient Programs

Intensive Outpatient Programs

Intensive outpatient treatment programs offer most of the same services as inpatient rehab facilities, but offer the convenience of returning home at the end of each day. Some rehab facilities transition newly released residents into intensive outpatient programs, while others offer these programs as standalone services.


What Is Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

Intensive outpatient programs offer extensive treatment on all or most days of the week. With a typical program, you might attend treatment services from 9 to 5 on weekdays, but each program’s schedule varies slightly. Depending on where you are in your recovery journey, the amount of time you spend at your intensive outpatient program might also vary. Some programs gradually taper down the amount of time you spend at the program as you begin making progress.


Although each program is different, in most cases you’ll get access to at least the following services:

  • One-on-one therapy sessions with a therapist who specializes in addiction. Through these sessions, you’ll learn to identify your triggers for drug or alcohol abuse, identify healthy coping mechanisms, and develop a plan for your long-term sobriety.
  • Group support sessions that may include group therapy, 12-step programs, or some combination of the two.
  • Educational programs about the disease of addiction.
  • Family programs. Though not all intensive outpatient programs offer family therapy or education, many do.
  • Medical assistance for the detox process and any health issues – including mental illnesses – with which you struggle.


Outpatient treatment is an active process, which means you’ll have little down time during your daily treatment sessions. You’ll get the most out of treatment if you come prepared to work on your addiction each day, and if you practice the skills you’ve learned in treatment at home each night. Many treatment programs assign nightly “homework” assignments that can help expedite your recovery.


How Long Will Treatment Take?

The length of treatment depends on a variety of factors, most notably your progress toward recovery and the standards of the specific program you choose. In general, you can expect to spend one to three months in an intensive outpatient program. However, if you need additional support, experience a relapse, or have serious mental or physical health conditions, you might stay longer.


Is Intensive Outpatient Right for Me?

Intensive outpatient treatment programs blend the best of inpatient rehab with the freedom you need to live your life. Such a program could be right for you if:

  • Your symptoms are sufficiently severe that you’re worried therapy or 12-step programs won’t be enough.
  • You do not have any serious untreated medical conditions.
  • You’re confident in your ability to resist temptation when you’re home; if you’re not, a more restrictive inpatient rehab setting could be a better choice for you.
  • You have already gone through detox, or your doctor believes that your withdrawal symptoms won’t be severe enough to warrant inpatient treatment.
  • Your schedule is such that you can devote most of each day to pursuing treatment.


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