Can I Still Go to Work While in an IOP Program?

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If you’re considering rehab, you’re one of over 4 million Americans seeking out treatment. Intensive Outpatient Programs or IOP are one treatment option and one that is often sought out by people with ongoing responsibilities. IOP programs typically last 28 days and allow you to learn everything you need to recover from a substance use disorder – without giving up every part of your life for the period.

While there are pros and cons to that and IOP programs aren’t suitable for everyone, intensive outpatient often means you can make room for treatment because you don’t have to stop every part of your life. So, “Can I still go to work while in an IOP program” is “yes”. However, there are more subtleties to that answer, and it’s important to understand what an IOP program is, how much of your time it will take, and what you’re committing to before attempting to do both at once.

The following article covers most of what you need to know about attending an IOP at the same time as work. However, you’ll still want to discuss your individual circumstances and energy levels with your doctor.

What is an IOP?

An Intensive Outpatient Program is a short and condensed treatment scenario in which you receive counseling, therapy, and complementary therapy. In most cases, it requires you to attend a clinic or treatment center on a daily basis. However, some modern programs will allow you to follow some sessions virtually. Others will insist that you come in for a checkup because your physical presence is part of ensuring that you stay clean and sober.

Typically, the actual session means receiving behavioral therapy such as CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy), DBT (Dialectal behavioral therapy), or EMDR (Eye-movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy) as well as counseling. You’ll typically also get assistance with life skills, managing cravings, building healthy habits, taking care of yourself, and working through emotions and reactions to therapy via counseling and group counseling.

Normally that works out to:

  • An evening or morning schedule (before 9 or after 5)
  • 9-30 hours of contact and treatment per week
  • Optional weekend sessions

Most IOP aim for more hours not fewer, so you can expect your program to be as close to 30 hours per week as possible. The more contact you have, the more likely your IOP program is to be effective.

woman working during IOP

Can You Go to Work
During an IOP?

Most intensive outpatient programs are designed around a typical 9-5 schedule. This means that they are structured so that you can either go out of bed and go to therapy or get out of work and go to therapy. Many also have weekend elements.

This means that you can do anything as part of your normal day and only spend a few hours per day on your treatment.

This includes:

  • Work
  • School/University
  • Childcare

In most cases, you choose the time of day to go to treatment and you set the number of hours you have per week. The length and duration of the treatment is then built around that.

Who’s a Best Fit for Intensive Outpatient Programs?

Intensive outpatient programs provide cost-effective and convenient treatment options for most people, even if you can’t get time off work. However, they aren’t right for everyone.

For example, 2-4 hours per day is a lot of your day and it is important that you take steps to ensure your daily life is as stable and as supportive as possible. If you go to work and an intensive outpatient program at the same time, you essentially do not have free time for the full month of treatment. If you’re also dealing with stress, a turbulent family life, or other upsets, that can be extremely difficult to manage and extremely difficult to actually benefit from. If you can’t reduce stress in your daily life, chances of relapse may be high. Therefore, you’ll want to talk about your living situation and responsibilities with your counselor before making a decision.

In addition, you’ll have to be motivated to go to treatment. One of the largest advantages of inpatient rehab over outpatient rehab is that fewer people drop out. That’s often because they are stuck there until the end of the program and leaving requires effort. In an outpatient program, you simply stop showing up. Having support and having people to keep you accountable can be an important part of graduating your intensive outpatient program.

Finally, if you have a long history of significant drug or alcohol abuse you might not be a good fit for an intensive outpatient program. However, you may be able to make it work with a combination of sober home and IOP, because then you can get support on staying clean and sober in your home as well.

Is IOP Effective?

Intensive Outpatient Treatment is considered the preferred treatment option for government funded recovery organizations, because it offers the best cost-to-efficacy-ratio of any treatment option. In most cases, IOP efficacy hovers at around 65% at 3 months after treatment, meaning that 65 out of 100 people who attended the program in full are still clean or sober at that time.

This means that IOP has the potential to be effective, and so much so that it’s the preferred treatment for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. However, you’ll also have to ensure that you have the time to show up, are motivated to recover, and have ongoing support to help you stay in the program.

woman getting help from professional about IOP

Getting Help

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, an intensive outpatient program is the most accessible option you can choose. Most IOP are 2-4 hours per day and structured around a 9-5 schedule, so that you can go to work or school at the same time. Others are designed around childcare needs and take place when kids are in school. In each case, this means you can go to rehab and get treatment without giving up your life or your daily responsibilities. At the same time, you’ll still have to make time and energy for treatment, and rehab can require a significant investment and a significant amount of learning and change on your part.

Good luck going to IOP.

Solace Treatment Center provides modern and effective  outpatient substance abuse treatment and outpatient mental health treatment to those looking for the next step in their recovery. Our staff of  seasoned and trained professionals are here to help you or your loved one grow into their new sober way of life.