Balancing an IOP While Pursuing Education

When an individual with substance use disorder (SUD) surrenders to treatment, such as an intensive outpatient program (IOP), it can bring on a wave of emotions. Many mental health facilities offer treatment options for addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions. Treatment may consist of therapy, support groups, medications, and more.

During treatment, an individual focuses on addressing the root cause of their addiction. They also learn new strategies to cope with their SUD and any co-occurring mental health challenges. Once the treatment program is completed, recovering a sense of direction can be somewhat of a challenge. Additional treatment services can provide a helping hand from the start of recovery. IOPs can be great step-down services for those transitioning from residential treatment back to normal life, especially if they have other commitments like a higher education degree.

Extra help can be a highly beneficial option for individuals undergoing this stage in life. Mental health professionals can guide individuals to feel confident while moving forward in recovery. Learning more about how an IOP can help and researching its benefits may help a student decide whether the program is best for them.

What Is an IOP Program?

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are an alternative to residential treatment and inpatient services for individuals with SUD and co-occurring mental health conditions. If these individuals do not require supervision from a mental health clinician and do not meet the diagnostic criteria for detoxification, they may be eligible for such services.

An IOP is designed to provide psychosocial support, healthy coping strategies, and prevention methods for a future relapse or potential overdose. This program is often just as effective as an inpatient treatment program for individuals seeking care. 

Conforming to the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), an IOP session may include medication management services, group therapy, and even case management services. They generally run for up to nine hours a week. An individual participates in sessions that tend to run for a few hours each. Over time, they may find they need less or less intensive help. Depending on the severity of the individual’s condition, the program typically lasts anywhere between a couple of weeks to several months or more. 

Benefits of an IOP for Students

An IOP gives an individual the opportunity to receive treatment and still live in their place of residence. This allows them to stay near their hometown and loved ones. For students, choosing to join an IOP in the evenings may be extremely beneficial. This allows teenagers, young adults, and older adults who are pursuing their education to still attend their classes while getting help.

Completing normal school hours, working part-time, and participating in IOP program services in the late hours of the day is possible. During an IOP, students are taught life skills to manage the challenges involved with their mental health and SUD. This gives students the opportunity to practice their skills outside of treatment to make their day flow easier. 

Helpful Strategies to Balance an IOP

Some people may avoid additional treatment in recovery because starting a new life after addiction rehab comes with major perseverance. An individual needs to make time for things like networking with professionals, removing toxic relationships, finding a job, taking time to make healthy choices, and pursuing their education.

Taking care of these daily responsibilities and receiving extra help may seem nearly impossible. With an IOP, an individual can continue working toward their academic goals and receive professional support. For some individuals, a packed schedule can feel overwhelming. Following time-management strategies can help a student successfully balance an IOP while continuing their education. Though this can be difficult, the alternative may be relapse, which can be even more difficult.

Some helpful coping strategies may include: 

  • Staying organized with a planner
  • Making time to decompress with family or friends
  • Taking short breaks when needed
  • Developing a self-care routine
  • Getting lots of rest 
  • Prioritizing tasks
  • Taking deep breaths in moments of stress

Guidance for Commitment

When a student’s schedule is full, they tend to fall behind. They may have difficulty staying committed to their treatment plan. Receiving services at the tail end of the day can feel incredibly exhausting. The individual should communicate their challenges with their healthcare team. Sharing the challenges faced each day with family or friends can also be a supportive alternative. This is a wise way to stay on track and focused while in treatment.

It takes time to adjust when taking on extra responsibilities in one’s schedule. Every ounce of effort is worth the time as an IOP helps prevent a potential relapse. Many people find success in receiving treatment services through an IOP, as this program is flexible. It is possible to live a healthy life of long-term sobriety, especially with additional support from a team of professionals. Doing research before choosing a facility can increase an individual’s chance of receiving the best care for a better future. 

Students can find positive results from joining an intensive outpatient program. IOPs are typically designed to facilitate relapse management. Here at 12 South Recovery, our outpatient programs help individuals benefit from outpatient therapy in both one-on-one and group therapy settings. We find that continuing treatment for both addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders can provide the help students need most. 12 South Recovery’s in-house team of master-level mental health therapists and trained treatment professionals provide compassionate, individualized care using the most cutting-edge, evidence-based modes of treatment for addiction and mental illness. If you feel that you or a loved one needs professional help today, call 12 South Recovery at 866-839-6876.

We're here to help.

At Twelve South Recovery, we accept most health insurance.

Get you or your loved one help for addiction or mental health issues today.

CALL 24/7 866-839-6876


Bluecross Blueshield Insurance Icon Cigna Insurance Icon HealthNet Insurance Icon HPHC Insurance Logo Beachstreet Insurance Logo Magellan Health Insurance Logo Multiplan Network Insurance Logo Prime Health Services Insurance Logo Tufts Health Plan Insurance Logo Aetna Insurance Logo Amerihealth Insurance Logo Anthem Insurance Logo Beacon Insurance Logo

National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers

Legitscript Certified Treatment Center California Department of Healthcare Services Logo Accredited By The Joint Comission - Gold Seal Better Business Bureau - Accredited Business