What is the Difference Between Residential and Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

No two cases of addiction are completely alike. Ideally, recovery begins with a thorough assessment of the patient that allows the therapist to create an individualized treatment plan.

Addiction is a complex disease that requires therapies on multiple levels over a considerable timespan. For many patients, that means going through several levels of care. If the substance use disorder is severe, detoxification is typically the first step. The Farley Center at Williamsburg Place provides a medically monitored detox that recognizes the need for a safe and comfortable withdrawal process.

Once patients are medically stabilized, they can begin residential treatment. This is the primary addiction treatment for people with severe substance use disorders. Patients receive around-the-clock recovery support in a safe and supportive environment as they engage in intensive therapy and begin to acquire and practice important recovery skills. They live on campus with a typical length of stay of 28 days. The treatment approach is comprehensive, involving body, mind, and spirit. Farley’s multidisciplinary team includes an addiction medicine physician, addiction psychiatrist, psychologists, licensed clinicians, and nurses.

During residential rehab, patients learn how to be sober and address any underlying conditions that may have been driving their substance use disorder. Trauma—particularly childhood trauma—and addiction are closely linked. Many people with addiction experienced highly traumatic events in their lives such as sexual assault or domestic violence before developing a substance use disorder.

Anxiety, depression, and panic disorder can also trigger attempts to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, especially in young adults. Residential treatment offers patients an opportunity to address these issues and focus on their personal growth away from the stressors and triggers of their home environment.

The next step in a continuum-of-care approach may be partial hospitalization, a nonresidential program that provides diagnostic and treatment services on a level of intensity similar to an inpatient program, but on a less than 24-hour basis.

Following partial hospitalization, patients participate in an intensive outpatient program (IOP). It is the lowest, least-intensive level of care before they transition out of treatment back to their daily lives. The focus in intensive outpatient programs is on group therapy, but patients are typically also assigned a therapist for one-on-one sessions.

Some patients join an IOP as their initial level of care if their substance use disorder has been diagnosed as mild and does not require detox. The key to successful treatment is a thorough evaluation of the patient by addiction professionals to determine the appropriate level of care.

The Farley Center offers IOPs at three locations in Virginia. Since IOPs are not residential, they allows patients to continue working, maintain their current living situation, and improve their relationships, all while receiving services right in their community. Farley IOPs are open to adults 18 and older diagnosed with a substance use disorder who may have co-occurring psychiatric disorders and are experiencing significant impairment in their daily functioning. To participate, patients must commit to attending a minimum of three hours of therapy four times per week.

Patients discharging from The Farley Center receive a continuing care contract that is developed in conjunction with the treatment team. Each aftercare plan is individualized and may include sober resources that help patients with their post treatment needs.