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Intensive Outpatient (IOP) vs Outpatient Programming (OP) in South Carolina

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

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All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

When researching addiction treatment programs for yourself or a loved one, you may discover that treatment is offered in multiple levels of care. The highest level of care offered at a rehab center is usually detox or residential (inpatient) treatment, and the lowest level of care is a standard outpatient program (OP).

Although there is a conception that inpatient residential programs provide better treatment results, two of the most popular levels of care are intensive outpatient (IOP) and outpatient programming (OP). IOP and OP are not nearly as intensive or time-consuming as inpatient or day programs, so they are an ideal choice for many people.

The best way to figure out which level of care is right for you is to consult with an addiction specialist. South Carolina Addiction Treatment has dedicated admissions coordinators available 24 hours a day to assess your needs and help you start your recovery.

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is an addiction or mental health program that can be compared to a part-time job. If you choose IOP, you will attend treatment 3-5 days a week for 3-6 hours at a time. Treatment will consist of group and individual therapies as well as relapse prevention planning, case management, and discharge planning.

After treatment is over, you can return home or stay in a sober living home. You may be expected to attend 12-Step meetings outside of treatment and practice healthy coping skills in real-life situations.

What is an Outpatient Program (OP)?

A standard outpatient program (OP) is an addiction or mental health treatment program that is very flexible. If you choose OP, you will attend treatment 1-3 days a week for 1-3 hours per session. OP treatment will involve mostly group therapy, but you may have one individual therapy session each week. In addition to therapy, outpatient rehab focuses heavily on preventing relapse and planning for your aftercare.

OP is the lowest level of addiction treatment care, only requiring 3-9 hours of your time each week. Outside of treatment, you can take care of your usual work, school, or family matters while resuming your regular lifestyle. Like IOP, you may be expected to attend 12-Step meetings or additional counseling sessions, if needed.

How is IOP Different From OP?

IOP and OP addiction treatment programs in South Carolina are very similar. The primary difference is that IOP is a much larger time commitment than OP. An intensive outpatient program (IOP) may require you to adjust your work schedule or take minimal time away from family, whereas an outpatient program (OP) is flexible enough that it will not disrupt your day-to-day life.

Because IOP is a greater time commitment, it is also more expensive. You are paying for more hours of counseling in IOP than you are in OP. However, both IOP and OP are covered by insurance.

In terms of levels of care, OP is a step down from IOP. Many people who participate in an IOP end up transitioning to an OP before finishing treatment altogether.

Intensive outpatient programs and outpatient programs use the same therapies, including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)
  • Contingency management (CM)
  • Family behavior therapy
  • Relapse prevention therapy

Clients in both IOP and OP typically have access to additional services such as case management, medication management, and/or recovery coaching.

Throughout both treatment programs, your therapists and case managers will track your progress and adjust your care plan to meet your needs. As you progress through treatment, your needs may change and new challenges may arise. Both IOP and OP are flexible and adaptable enough to match your evolving needs.

How Do I Know if IOP or OP in South Carolina is Right for Me

Everyone experiences addiction differently. Some people have mild addictions, are still functioning in daily life, and have a safe, supportive living environment. Other people have more severe addictions that have stolen their livelihoods, causing them to lose their jobs, homes, families, and more.

People with mild addictions and supportive home environments are best suited for an outpatient addiction treatment program, while people with more severe addictions, co-occurring mental health conditions, or unstable housing can benefit more from a residential or inpatient program.

Many people who complete inpatient rehab step down to IOP and then to OP to ease the transition out of treatment.

The best way to decide if IOP or OP in South Carolina is right for you is to call and speak with a dedicated admissions counselor.

Get Help Today

South Carolina Addiction Treatment offers multiple levels of care. Using a holistically-tailored approach, we help patients heal their minds, bodies, and spirits as they move through our continuum of care. Don’t wait any longer to get the support you need. Call now to speak with a compassionate addiction specialist.