IOP vs. Residential Treatment: Choosing the Right Path to Recovery

IOP vs residential treatment

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), while 10% of the population suffers from addiction, 75% of them never receive the treatment they need.[1]

There are many reasons that a person might avoid addiction treatment, including not being aware of their options. Thankfully, addiction treatment centers understand that everyone is different, so various rehab programs are structured differently, ensuring that there is something out there for everyone.

Two of the most common types of treatment programs include residential treatment and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). While residential rehab requires you to live at the facility, IOP allows you to live in the comfort of your own home and commute to treatment sessions a few times per week.

Deciding which program is right for you can be difficult, but assessing the severity of your addiction, how much supervision you need, and what you are comfortable with can make the choice much easier.

What is Residential Treatment?

Residential treatment is the highest level of care offered for individuals suffering from addiction. These programs allow you to live at a facility where you can receive 24/7 support, supervision, and treatment. Typically, residential rehab lasts anywhere from 30 to 90 days depending on your personal needs.

Also known as inpatient treatment, these programs include a wide variety of services to help you recover from addiction and teach you to avoid relapses in the future. Examples of services offered during residential treatment include:

  • Individualized treatment planning
  • Medical detox
  • One-on-one therapy
  • Group and family counseling
  • Medication management
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Holistic therapies
  • Psychoeducational groups
  • Treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions
  • Relapse prevention planning
  • Aftercare services

While people with severe substance use disorders or co-occurring mental health conditions should always attend residential treatment, it can be helpful for those who have less complicated conditions as well. In other words, anyone can benefit from one of these programs.

What is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)?

Intensive outpatient programs offer a moderate level of care, allowing patients to live at home or in a sober living program while they attend treatment. Most people attending an IOP commute to the facility 3 to 5 times per week to participate in individual therapy, group counseling, and develop relapse prevention techniques to strengthen their position in recovery.

IOP may include the following services, depending on your specific needs:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group and family counseling
  • Addiction education groups
  • Holistic treatments
  • Medication management
  • Relapse prevention planning

While intensive outpatient programs offer a lower level of care than residential rehab, they provide some unique benefits. For example, if you need to continue working a part-time job while you attend treatment, IOPs offer flexibility in scheduling to allow that. Additionally, they are less expensive than inpatient treatment, making them more accessible to a wider range of people.

The Main Differences Between Residential Rehab and IOP

The biggest difference between residential treatment and IOP is the living arrangements. While residential treatment offers safe and supportive housing, you must live at home or in a sober living program while you attend IOP. This might not be ideal for a person who does not have a stable home environment to rely on.

Additionally, the levels of care differ between these two programs. Residential rehab offers more services and support than IOP, making it vital that people with severe addictions or co-occurring mental health conditions choose to take advantage of inpatient rehab before transitioning into an IOP.

Lastly, IOP offers more flexibility than residential treatment. If you have personal responsibilities to care for outside of treatment like children, work, or school, IOP might be better suited for you.

How to Determine if You Should Attend IOP or Residential Treatment

Deciding between IOP and residential treatment can be difficult. While inpatient treatment offers the highest level of care, IOP is more affordable and offers the flexibility to continue working and paying your bills. Because of this, it can be helpful to know what factors you should consider when making such an important decision.

When choosing between IOP and residential treatment, consider the following:

  • Do you need medical detox?
  • Would you benefit from 24/7 supervision and support?
  • Do you need safe and supportive housing during treatment?
  • Do you have co-occurring mental health conditions that require ongoing treatment?
  • Can you afford inpatient rehab or use your health insurance for coverage?
  • Can you take time off from work or school to fully immerse yourself in a residential rehab program?

If you answer yes to most of these questions, residential treatment is the best option for you. On the other hand, if you have stable housing, have to continue working your job, and need a more affordable option, you should choose an intensive outpatient program.

Get Connected to a Top-Rated Intensive Outpatient Program

If you or a loved one needs addiction treatment that offers a flexible schedule and allows you to live in the comfort of your own home, Flourishing Foundations Recovery is here to help. We offer a comprehensive intensive outpatient program in San Antonio that can provide you with the tools and support you need to maintain long-term sobriety.

To learn more about our IOP for drug addiction and alcoholism, contact us today.


  1. The National Institutes of Health (NIH): 10 percent of US adults have drug use disorder at some point in their lives, Retrieved January 2024 From