IOP vs. OP: Understanding the Different Levels of Care

Get started on your road to recovery. Reach out today

Once you decide it’s time to get help for addiction, you’ll have to pick a rehab program that meets your unique needs. However, if you don’t know what your needs are or if you are unfamiliar with the treatment process, finding the right New Jersey rehab center can feel confusing. While inpatient rehab is the highest level of care offered, other levels of care include intensive outpatient (IOP) and outpatient (OP).

What is IOP?

Intensive outpatient programs are a step-down in terms of intensity of care from residential, or inpatient, rehab programs. You may consider this type of program if you cannot attend inpatient treatment or if you want to continue structured counseling for a while after leaving a residential program.

IOP is a far more flexible treatment option than inpatient because these programs do not require you to live at the treatment facility. Instead, you live at home while traveling to the treatment facility for your scheduled therapy sessions.

You can expect to attend anywhere between 10 and 20 hours of group and individual therapy each week while in a New Jersey IOP program. This means you will have to commute to the rehab center 3-5 days per week, have flexible work hours, and childcare, if applicable.

Some benefits you can obtain from participating in an IOP program include:

  • Getting additional support from peers and therapists after inpatient
  • Learning how to strengthen relationships while practicing new skills in the real world
  • Being able to attend treatment while keeping your job
  • Being able to attend treatment while seeing your family and friends
  • Allowing you to live in the comfort of your own home while getting help
  • Less expensive costs than residential treatment programs

What is OP?

Outpatient programs are considered a step-down from intensive outpatient programs. Like IOP, OP is for people who either cannot attend a residential program or those who would like continued support after a more intensive level of care.

OP is more flexible than IOP because most OP programs only require 5-10 hours of group and individual therapy each week. Therapy sessions may be held morning, afternoon, or evening, allowing you to work around a busy schedule or keep your job while obtaining treatment.

Standard outpatient is the lowest level of care offered in addiction treatment programs. Before you enroll in outpatient, you should be sure that you have a supportive home environment and that you are not in need of medical care.

Benefits of New Jersey outpatient programs include:

  • Lowest cost of all other addiction treatment programs
  • Highly flexible hours that work with your schedule – no matter how busy
  • The ability to go to school, work, or spend time with your family while getting help
  • Having access to therapists and peer support on a regular basis
  • Obtaining follow-up care that reduces the risk of relapse

How to Know if You Need IOP or OP

Intensive outpatient programs vs. Outpatient programs

The main difference between IOP and OP is the number of hours during which you will be in therapy. Both types of programs offer the same types of therapies and counseling techniques. As a result, the best way to determine which level of care you need is to look at the severity of your addiction and your treatment needs.

First and foremost, if you need medical detox services, have a co-occurring disorder, or have been struggling with addiction for many years, you should opt for an inpatient rehab program that is better suited to meet your needs. Outpatient programs are for people who:

  • Have already completed an inpatient rehab program in New Jersey
  • Cannot afford to go to inpatient rehab
  • Don’t have time to go to inpatient due to work, school, or children
  • Have less severe addictions
  • Don’t require medical care
  • Have a stable and supportive home environment

If you meet any of those criteria, you may qualify for an IOP or OP program. However, to determine exactly which level of care is right for you, you should speak with an addiction professional.

Every person is unique and has different treatment needs. For example, if you do not require medical care but you don’t have a supportive home environment, outpatient may not be right for you. If you have already completed inpatient and need to get back to work, IOP may be too demanding with too many hours – making OP the best choice.

The point is the best way to figure out what type of outpatient program you need is to consult with a drug and alcohol counselor. He or she will be able to evaluate you and point you in the right direction.

Find Outpatient Rehab in New Jersey Today

At New Jersey Addiction Interventions, our admissions counselors can speak with you about your condition, get an idea of your treatment needs, and make recommendations about which level of care we think is right for you.

To learn more about the addiction treatment process or to start your obligation-free assessment, give us a call today.

Medically Reviewed: February 23, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


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

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

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

0 replies on “IOP vs. OP: Understanding the Different Levels of Care”