What to Look for in an Intensive Outpatient Program

what to look for in an IOP

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are a type of treatment often used in addiction recovery. Unlike residential care, which involves living in a rehab facility for months at a time, IOPs let clients remain at home and attend therapy sessions, meetings and counseling appointments in the evenings. This approach means you don’t have to neglect your career
or other responsibilities to get sober. Compared to other forms of addiction treatment, IOPs provide just the right balance of structure and flexibility, so you feel supported without significantly disrupting your daily routine. For many, this balance is crucial to the recovery process, ensuring that even those who have to work or care for their families can get the ball rolling with rehab.

If you’re interested in this level of care, you might be wondering what to look for in an IOP provider. Below, we break down the characteristics of a good intensive outpatient program so you can choose a facility like Choice House that prioritizes your health and healing above all else, giving you the support you need to put addiction behind you.

Quality of Care

One of the most important things to look for in an IOP or any other form of addiction treatment is quality of care. Recovery is a process, and you want to be sure that you’ll receive the appropriate amount of structure, support and guidance from start to finish. Reputable treatment facilities should also be backed by proven therapies and a team of trained professionals who want to see you thrive in your new, healthy lifestyle. Some of the features that can help you determine if you’ll receive high-quality care include:

  • Comprehensive evaluations or assessments
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Personalized treatment programming
  • Robust recovery community
  • Access to aftercare, alumni support or sober living
  • Balanced mixed of traditional and holistic therapies
  • Mental health treatment for co-occurring disorders

You can find all of this and more in Choice House’s IOP programs, which are appropriate whether you just want more flexibility in your recovery or you’re a busy professional who can’t commit to an inpatient stay. But quality of care isn’t the only thing to consider when choosing an IOP — keep reading to find out what else separates the good from the bad.


Most people are drawn to IOPs because they offer more flexibility than other treatment options. A good IOP should fit into your schedule and give you the freedom to manage your daily responsibilities, but still provide enough support to help you get sober. If you’re on the fence about rehab or can’t afford to take a leave of absence from your career or family, this approach is more convenient and accessible than residential treatment, allowing you to continue living at home while you gain a foothold in your recovery.

While most IOPs follow a similar structure, the schedule may differ depending on the rehab facility. At Choice House, our IOP programming takes place on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, requiring just 10 clinical hours a week. This ensures that you’ll have enough time to spend at work or home between therapy sessions, so you can develop your recovery skills without dropping the ball in other areas of your life.

Safe, Welcoming Environment

IOPs are usually recommended for clients with a safe, stable home environment, but the treatment facility you go to should also be warm and welcoming. When you feel comfortable with your surroundings, it’s easier to open up, be honest, and really start thinking about your drug or alcohol use. This is important, because the hard work of recovery involves digging deep into your inner self to change the harmful thoughts, feelings and behaviors that keep you trapped in a cycle of addiction. Other participants should also be supportive and on a similar path to recovery, giving you a sense of community, compassion and understanding.

A comfortable environment should feel intimate, but not crowded. Another thing to look for is a high staff-to-client ratio to ensure you’ll get the attention you need throughout your recovery. As for amenities, the basic things you can expect from a reputable provider are cleanliness, comfort and safety. At any price point, your rehab or IOP should help improve your mental state, not worsen it.

Personalized Treatment Plans

Recovery is a highly personal process. We all have unique experiences, challenges and goals in life, so the techniques that help one person get sober may not be right for another. For example, you might respond better to holistic or outdoor therapies like meditation, yoga or hiking that let you get out of your own head and live in the moment, while someone else could benefit more from trauma or mental health treatment to help them process painful memories. Similarly, not everyone will have the same level of support at home, which can affect whether inpatient or outpatient care is more suitable.

An effective IOP treatment plan should be tailored to meet these needs and take into consideration factors like your substance abuse history, home environment, readiness to change, and personal beliefs or preferences. This will help you develop coping strategies that work for you and leave you better equipped to overcome any obstacles that stand in the way of your recovery. In contrast, “one-size-fits-all” rehabs can leave important issues unresolved, leading to relapse and poor long-term outcomes.


Think back to when your addiction called the shots. Did you spend a lot of time by yourself getting loaded? Did your “friends” care about your well-being? How often did you feel adrift, isolated or cut-off from the rest of the world?

If you’re like most people in recovery, this was probably a dark and lonely time in your life. When drugs and alcohol become your top priority, everything else falls to the wayside, including your personal relationships. Maybe you pushed away your friends and family so you could get high more often, or you would miss important events because you were too hungover. In this and many other ways, addiction puts a wedge between yourself and others, which only reinforces harmful behaviors.

That’s why a thriving recovery community and peer support are key components of a good IOP. Connecting with others will help you heal and show you that you’re not alone. Being surrounded by a supportive community also curbs the desire to isolate and helps you build healthy relationships, significantly decreasing the likelihood of relapse. If group therapy and similar activities aren’t a part of your treatment, it will be much harder to maintain your sobriety down the road.

Looking for the qualities mentioned above will help ensure that you find a good IOP suited to your needs instead of a cookie-cutter program that leaves you feeling like something’s missing. Choice House offers IOPs that combine a high quality of care with flexible programming, a comfortable environment, personalized treatment plans and a thriving recovery community so you can get the most of your time in rehab.

If you need help overcoming addiction but can’t commit to a long-term inpatient stay, IOP is a great alternative that lets you integrate your recovery into your daily life. But not all IOPs are made equally — it’s important to choose one that goes above and beyond to meet your needs. At Choice House in Boulder, Colorado, we offer IOP treatment for clients from all walks of life, including busy professionals who can’t drop everything to enter rehab. With highly personalized care, a comfortable facility and flexible schedule, you’ll be able to get sober without ignoring your personal life, career or family obligations. To learn more about our outpatient programming and how it can help, don’t hesitate to contact or call us today at 303-578-4975.

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