One of the most important things to remember when choosing an addiction recovery treatment program is that every addicted person is different, and that means that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to addiction treatment. What works for a given individual might not for another, depending on factors like their previous medical history, mental health, and the severity of their substance abuse issues.
With that in mind, not everyone in addiction recovery is going to have the same needs. In order to have a successful recovery, some clients need to step away from their regular lives or otherwise require careful monitoring and are best served in a residential inpatient treatment program, where they live onsite at the treatment facility and can be insulated from stress, distractions, and temptations and instead focus entirely on recovery.
Other clients may have only been abusing drugs or alcohol for a short time, are in good health, and have a strong enough outside support system that an outpatient rehabilitation program is enough to meet their needs. In an outpatient program, a client continues with their normal life as they make regular appointments at a treatment facility or outpatient clinic for detox, therapy, and more.
And then there are clients who need something that falls in between these two options, and that is what’s known as intensive outpatient treatment.
This treatment is most useful for clients who may have had a history of relapsing or a co-occurring disorder such as depression or anxiety that need more of the comprehensive care associated with inpatient treatment but do not need the 24/7 monitoring that usually comes with it.
An intensive outpatient treatment program is, by nature, very flexible and can be used as a stand-alone treatment or as a form of continuing care after a client no longer requires inpatient care. No matter how someone chooses to utilize it, intensive outpatient treatment comes with the same level of support and range of services as most inpatient programs, while allowing clients to use the tools and coping skills they learn in their day-to-day lives.
If you require medical detox, then you can expect to spend your first intensive outpatient treatment visit in a physical exam to assess your general health before being administered medication to help ease the effects of withdrawal symptoms like nausea or tremors.
After being given medication, you will typically be held for several hours so that a medical team can observe you and decide when it is safe to send you home.
Following your first visit, you will be making regular appointments to your treatment facility or clinic that will involve medical check-ins, mostly while you work your way through the process of withdrawal, as well as therapy sessions and educational addiction classes. While in an intensive outpatient treatment program, you can usually expect three appointments a week for about two-four hours at a time.
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It’s important to keep in mind that even though this is a more comprehensive and in-depth form of treatment than a regular outpatient program, it still requires significant self-monitoring and accountability, which can sometimes be too overwhelming of responsibility for someone who is in the early stages of their recovery.
Before choosing intensive outpatient treatment, it is essential to have an honest and objective understanding of yourself and your ability to manage the potential temptations and triggers you may encounter.
In the past, inpatient treatment programs were considered to be the only truly effective option for successfully achieving long-term sobriety, but thanks to advancements in both addiction recovery treatment technology and pharmacology, this is no longer the case.
Intensive outpatient treatment programs have now become an equally effective and more efficient option for addiction rehabilitation for clients who do not require inpatient care but still need extra support. Some 12-step support groups or individual counseling may not provide that on their own.
There are a variety of therapy options available for people who are seeking addiction treatment. In intensive outpatient treatment, and throughout the full continuum of care, you will go through therapy options that are best suited to address your needs. Though there are a variety of treatment options, an effective rehab center will ground your treatment plan in evidence-based approaches.
Evidence-based treatment refers to therapy options that have been studied in scientific research and determined to be significantly effective in most people. Evidence-based treatment is also able to be applied in a variety of treatment settings. Some rehab facilities also include alternative treatment approaches that have not been proven effective in scientific studies. These therapies are reported to help some people and may increase a person’s engagement in treatment. Alternative therapy includes art therapy, music therapy, and equine therapy. These options are best reserved to be used in addition to evidence-based options.
Individual therapy is the cornerstone of psychotherapy. This is probably what most people imagine when they think about therapy. In this style of treatment, you will sit down with a therapist that’s trained to help you address the issues that may be caused by or contributing to your substance use disorder. Therapists are also beholden to privacy laws so you can feel comfortable opening up knowing your information remains confidential. You will start treatment by meeting with your therapist and formulating a treatment plan. You’ll then meet with your therapist at least once a week to discuss your plan and reassess it.
Forming personal connections is a valuable way to combat addiction. Group therapy can help you to build up social skills and make interpersonal connections. Learning to connect with your peers isn’t just a healthy way to make connections; it also helps you get out of your own head for a while. It can help you gain perspective and alleviate anxiety. Listening to other people talk about their experience can be therapeutic, and it allows you to offer your own insight to help others.
Some treatment centers have family therapy, while others will have family days where your family members are invited to participate in treatment. For some patients, family members would do more harm than good in treatment, but it’s an integral part of treatment for many. Family members can learn how to support you in your recovery, they can learn how to avoid enabling behavior, and you can learn more about how your addiction has affected others. Family therapy is often a meaningful way to begin the healing process for the families of people struggling with addiction.
Behavioral therapy is one of the most common types of therapy in addiction treatment and in the treatment of a variety of mental health issues. Behavioral therapies are treatment approaches that are designed to help you make lasting behavioral changes. They may involve raising motivation, self-awareness, self-efficacy, and preventing relapse. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most common type of therapy used in addiction treatment. It’s instrumental in creating relapse prevention strategies and forming effective coping responses to triggers and cravings.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Evidence-Based Approaches to Drug Addiction Treatment. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (Alcohol, Marijuana, Cocaine, Methamphetamine, Nicotine). from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Types of Treatment Programs. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). 12-Step Facilitation Therapy (Alcohol, Stimulants, Opiates). from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/behavioral-4