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Healing, Strengthening, and Advancing the Lives of LGBTQ People Seeking Recovery

How to Start an IOP Program

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If you or a loved one is seeking substance abuse treatment, it’s important to understand the various treatment options and what they entail. In this article, we’ll focus on intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). From scheduling and financing to determining your treatment plan, we’ll help you understand how to start an IOP program. 

You’ll also discover more about La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center’s LGBTQ-focused IOP in Southern California. 

Ready to learn more? Call La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center at 888.903.9898. 

What Is an IOP Program?

IOP stands for intensive outpatient program. These programs are designed to help treat substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders. 

Although IOPs differ from one treatment center to the next, they generally have three things in common. 

Firstly, there’s the time commitment. Regulations from laws and insurance providers dictate that IOPs must deliver a minimum of 10 hours of programming each week. This translates to approximately two hours per day over a span of five days. 

Secondly, outpatient programs allow clients to return home in the evening rather than staying overnight at the treatment facility. Lastly, IOPs are characterized by a high level of structure and routine. 

During treatment hours, clients participate in a diverse range of activities, including group and individual therapy, life skills classes, and support groups. They might also have the opportunity to try holistic treatments like yoga, meditation, and art therapy.

What Are the Benefits of an IOP Program?

IOP programs have all kinds of benefits, the main one being the combination of flexibility and efficacy. 

Not only do clients receive intensive, top-notch substance abuse treatment, but they get to do so without completely reorganizing their schedule. This flexibility makes IOPs particularly suitable for those juggling full-time jobs and parenting responsibilities.

In addition to their flexibility, IOPs enable clients to stay connected with their existing support systems and foster a sober community with fellow participants. Furthermore, since clients return to their everyday lives at the end of each day, they have the opportunity to apply the coping skills acquired in treatment to real-world situations.

How to Prepare for an IOP Program

Now that you’ve got a better idea of what IOP programs are, let’s take a look at how to start an IOP program. 

Figure out scheduling 

As mentioned previously, intensive outpatient programs require clients to participate in at least 10 hours of treatment per week. Not only is this a significant time commitment, but treatment centers are strict when it comes to attendance. If you miss too many sessions, you’ll slow down your recovery process and may even be dismissed from the program. 

Reorganizing your schedule will look different for everyone, but at the very least, you’ll have to talk to your boss and family. 

For instance, if you plan to continue working during an IOP, you might have to work the night shift instead of the day shift. Alternatively, if you’re a salaried employee, consider starting your work day earlier or ending it later to make up for the time you spend in treatment. 

As for family, speak with your partner about how to divide household tasks and responsibilities so they don’t end up shouldering everything. If you have kids, discuss pick-up and drop-off times so everything continues to run smoothly. 


Handling insurance matters might not be your favorite pre-treatment task, but you could be in for a pleasant surprise. IOPs tend to be budget-friendly when compared to traditional inpatient programs. Additionally, many insurance plans often cover most, if not all, of the costs associated with IOPs.

In case your insurance doesn’t cover everything, or you don’t have insurance, consider exploring payment plans, scholarships, and grants as potential avenues to support the financing of your treatment.

Complete an initial assessment

Embarking on an initial assessment is a key step in finding the right services for your needs within an IOP. Typically, this involves discussing your situation with a therapist. 

Drawing on their expertise, the therapist will create a personalized recovery plan that accommodates your specific commitments and recovery stage. Keep in mind that this plan is just a starting point. You and your therapist can adjust it as needed to meet your evolving needs throughout the program. 

Attend sessions

Once your treatment plan is in place, it’s time to start your IOP program. Depending on your specific needs, this will involve attending a combination of meetings, support groups, and life skills workshops. Be aware that you might have homework to complete in between sessions as well.  

At the risk of stating the obvious, pay attention to the dates and times provided. Missing one session isn’t the end of the world, but if it becomes a habit, you run the risk of derailing your recovery journey. 

Start an IOP Program at La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center 

So far, you’ve learned what an IOP program is and have seen the benefits it offers. In addition, you’ve received step-by-step instructions on how to start an IOP program. The only thing left to do is find the program that’s right for you. 

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community who lives, works, or travels to Southern California, we encourage you to take a closer look at La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center’s intensive outpatient program. In addition to being LGBTQ-focused, our IOP offers comprehensive care and is community-driven.  

Our IOP is open from Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. We offer a range of services that spans everything from traditional talk therapy to mindfulness meditation. 

To learn more or enroll, call La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center at 888.903.9898 or contact us online.

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