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Intensive Outpatient Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

December 16, 2021

Here’s everything you need to know about intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). These frequently asked questions should give you insights about the program as well as determine if it is the right path for you.

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

An intensive outpatient program employs multilateral treatment for a patient’s recovery. This program includes a team of experts, which include a social worker, counselor, and/or a psychiatrist. The patient will be assessed and guided by these individuals for successful addiction recovery.

The primary difference of IOPs compared to other addiction treatment programs is that this is held outside rehab centers. As such, the patient does not need to be admitted full-time. IOPs only require at least 3 hours per day, 5 days a week.

IOPs also offer group therapy which allows the patient to glean wisdom from fellow patients. Group therapy helps them identify problem areas, improve their relationship with their loved ones, develop problem-solving skills, and essentially find healthier ways to cope with their problems. IOPs also have individual counseling, family therapy, marital therapy, and psychiatric medication management.

How can Intensive Outpatient Programs help me?

 Intensive outpatient programs help patients in various ways. However, this is only on the assumption that the patient can be safely treated in this setup. Patients with mild addiction cases or who have already undergone inpatient rehab may graduate to IOPs.

Firstly, it provides a comfortable and safe environment for introspection. This prevents the illness from worsening and protects the patient from further pain, all without being admitted to the hospital or rehab center.

Patients consult with counselors, psychiatrists, and even fellow patients so that they may develop healthier means to cope with their problems. IOPs encourage longer treatments with real-life applications which have been proven to be effective against relapse prevention.

Lastly, IOPs are proven to be more cost-effective in the long run. It provides a sustained and long-term treatment option that effectively lessens the chances of relapse while still being cheaper than an emergency room visit due to a relapse.

What differentiates IOPs from other treatment programs?

IOPs focus on outpatient treatment with the goal of relapse prevention. This type of program is often deemed as a step-down from inpatient rehab and graduating to IOPs is seen as progress. The patients have more freedom and independence. The main difference is that it allows a patient to further transition into their normal lives while still fulfilling their commitments towards staying sober. Since IOPs only require about 15 hours of commitment per week, the patient has ample time for their jobs, educations, relationships, and more.

What about my privacy?

It is understandable for the patient to feel worried that their personal information may be leaked or used in ways outside the scope of IOPs. We at R&R Recovery do everything in our power to protect your personal data. We take every precaution to uphold mental health privacy. We will not inform anyone of your treatment. The only time we will disclose such information is if it is crucial in averting imminent danger to yourself or other people.

Can I juggle IOP alongside my job?

The beauty of IOP is that it leaves a lot of time for a person to take up a part-time or freelance job. We understand how difficult it would be to perform well at work when your mental health is suffering. As such, we also recommend that you take a medical leave. Six weeks should suffice as this period of time will allow you to absorb and apply everything you learn from IOP.

How can I pay for these sessions?

Check-in with your options and inquire if they accept major health insurance plans. Then, their office should check your insurance benefits, possible deductibles, co-insurance, and co-pays. You may also apply for short-term disability which makes you eligible for discounts. Lastly, payment plans that suit your financial situation can always be discussed, especially if finances are a problem. Rest assured that IOPs are significantly more affordable compared to other treatment plans since the patient does not reside in the premises which eliminate lodging costs.

Why can’t I just see a psychiatrist, take my medications, and call it a day?

Antidepressants may take up to six weeks before they take effect. The rate of reaction and the side effects are dependent on a lot of factors. Only 50% of patients report that their first time going on antidepressants is an unpleasant experience. That is due to the common side effect of serotonin reuptake inhibitors which is to worsen depression in the first few weeks. Other side effects include lethargy, sleepiness, dizziness, vivid dreams, frequent headaches, dryness in the mouth, weight gain, nausea, sexual side effects, and more.

Only 50% report a positive response. As such, these patients must be guided through the process with the help of therapy or additional medication. For example, cognitive therapy is helpful in alleviating these side effects. Cognitive therapy works well on its own or on top of SSRIs. As a matter of fact, any type of therapy combined with antidepressants is significantly better than going on medication on its own. This prepares the patient to combat the symptoms of depression that are brought about by the new medication. The patient is taught how to cope with certain problems, gain mental tools to think about these challenges, improve their relationship with people who could help them, and more.

Why is group therapy so important?

You may have some reservations about sharing your personal problems and struggles with a bunch of strangers. That feeling is completely understandable since we are all taught that it is not normal to overshare. However, group sessions are safe spaces that are very different from any other social setting. All attendees share the same sentiment and the same goal.

You are not forced to share your stories if you are not comfortable yet. You may start by listening to the other members of the group. You will glean valuable insights from their stories and realize that you are more connected than you think. Over time, the group will help all the members recover. It is very powerful to be a part of one. It makes one feel like they are never alone on this journey and that there is hope for their successful recovery.

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