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The Benefits of Outpatient Treatment for Addiction

Benefits of Outpatient Treatment group therapy session in intensive outpatient service

Addiction treatment comes in many forms. Traditionally, most people think of addiction treatment as “rehab”, which equates to a 28-day or 30-day treatment stay as a residential rehab or inpatient treatment center. Other forms of addiction treatment are extended care models, which are extended residential stays longer than 30 days or outpatient PHP or IOP levels of care combined with a structured sober living component. There are also outpatient models of care that include partial hospitalization (PHP), intensive outpatient (IOP), or traditional outpatient. There are also outpatient options that include Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs or opioid treatment programs (OTP), as well as addiction treatment through outpatient options like individual therapy, counseling, or psychiatry. 


Today we are going to take a look at outpatient treatment (specifically intensive outpatient treatment or IOP) and the benefits of that outpatient treatment model. Intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment programs fill one of two roles: they can either be an aftercare option after a patient receives detox and inpatient or residential rehab for 30 days, for a patient to step down and receive further treatment and support in a continuum of care, or they can act as an initial access point to care for those individuals who do not need detox and inpatient rehab, don’t meet criteria for those higher levels of care, or whose life situation will not allow them to enter a detox and/or rehab for up to a month or longer.


What are some of the reasons a person suffering from addiction would be unable to enter a detox or rehab and instead need to find treatment and support through an IOP treatment program?


Clinical Necessity

Not everyone needs detox or to go to a 28- or 30-day inpatient treatment center or residential rehab. Substance use disorder is a spectrum and for those individuals who are on the mild or sometimes even moderate level of having a substance use disorder, often an IOP program is enough to meet their clinical needs.


Clinical Necessity

This can be tricky. Many people will often use work as an excuse to not go to detox or rehab, claiming their work obligations make it impossible. Often this is untrue, employers must allow their employees to access care for their health. However, many employees don’t want to tell their employers due to stigma or shame. However, there are individuals whose work schedules and obligations make it very difficult for them to leave for a month or longer in rehab. They may be business owners, their jobs may have such high responsibilities that they are unable to commit to rehab, etc. For these individuals that have work obligations that are difficult to deal with but who are still in dire need of addiction treatment, IOP programs are often great options. Most IOP programs offer both daytime or evening intensive outpatient programs, so an working professional can either attend treatment after work, or can customize a work/treatment schedule that allows them to fulfill their work responsibilities while also receiving life-saving treatment.



Family is sometimes the biggest barrier for patients to go away to rehab. Many single parents do not have people that can help watch their children for a month or longer while they attend rehab. Many times, the individual needing help for addiction is the person that works in the family, and they cannot take time away from family because there are too many bills to pay. For these individuals, seeking treatment through an intensive outpatient program allows them to manage their family obligations while also receiving addiction treatment services. 



Many people have other health issues that they are dealing with while also suffering from substance use disorder or addiction. Depending on those health issues, they may regularly need to see a medical specialist or multiple doctors to manage those health issues. While many residential rehabs can handle additional medical issues, there are many inpatient facilities that are not equipped, which causes a barrier to a medically compromised patient for going to a residential facility. IOP treatment programs offer necessary treatment for those individuals that have addiction issues but also have additional health issues or disorders that must be attended to and managed on a regular basis.


All of the above are benefits of outpatient treatment for patients that are dealing with unique situations. Another benefit of intensive outpatient treatment for substance use disorder and addiction is that is can easily translate to a telehealth platform. The current and ongoing COVID-19 public health pandemic is a great example. Most IOP nationwide were able to transition patients quickly and seamlessly in outpatient programming to receive treatment services while also supporting the health and safety of both staff and patients. This allowed for necessary treatment services to be uninterrupted, while also complying with all necessary and recommended health and safety guidelines suggested by the CDC and local and state health departments. 


Additional benefits to intensive outpatient and outpatient treatment settings


  1. If the individual has a supportive living environment and family unit, they are able to continue to live at home in a support environment while receiving addiction treatment
  2. Family involvement is easier and ongoing throughout the treatment experience. Since the IOP is close to home, parents, spouses, employers, loved ones, and anyone else involved in the patient’s treatment episode are also close by and assessable. 
  3. Real-time implementation of treatment goals and objectives. What the patient is learning in treatment can be applied to their lives in real time.
  4. Synergy with personal recovery. When a person is receiving treatment on an outpatient basis, all treatment programs will suggest that individual engage in some sort of personal recovery plan outside of treatment. This could be 12 Step recovery fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, Refuge Recovery, or some peer recovery support services or professional case management support. Treatment and personal recovery can work together in this setting.
  5. Support networks. This can include the above-mentioned recovery groups, recovery support networks and sober supports, but recovery support doesn’t have to only include other people in recovery. Many people in early recovery while engaged in outpatient treatment begin making more healthy decisions about their life- they join a gym, they engage in different social groups, they join yoga or meditation classes. The other people in these new outlets can also act as recovery support for the individual as they begin to engage in more healthy outlets and behaviors.
  6. Access to additional professionals or specialists. When a person is receiving outpatient treatment they can also begin to access professionals or specialists that can help them out with additional issues they may be having, and ideally, will work with the IOP treatment program in a collaborative manner. This could include mental health therapists or counselors that specialize in issues such as gambling addiction, sex addiction, porn addiction, gaming addiction, or eating disorders, as well as specialized services such as marriage and family therapy or counseling, trauma, or a psychiatrist for any medication management needs. 


Here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, we believe that intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment must be as comprehensive as any other level of care. We offer two separate IOP programs- a daytime IOP treatment program and an evening IOP program. Both IOP programs include numerous group therapy sessions weekly, as well as weekly individual therapy sessions with the patient’s master’s level primary therapist, ongoing individual psychiatry sessions, and ongoing family therapy sessions, engagement, and support throughout the patient’s entire treatment experience. Our IOP treatment programs take place at our clinical campus in Towson, Maryland in Baltimore County. 


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at

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