IOP vs. Rehab: Which is Best for You?

Clinical Reviewer

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs) offer similar therapeutic services as inpatient rehab, but patients continue to live at home instead of at the facility.

The success rates of IOP and inpatient rehab are similar and both are typically covered by insurance.

The Differences Between IOP and Rehab

  IOP Program Inpatient Rehab
Patient Live At home (or sober living) At the facility
Typical Length 6 – 8 weeks 4 weeks

Should I go to rehab or IOP?

There isn’t one “better” option. We need both rehabs and IOPs, like we need both inpatient hospitals and outpatient clinics for other medical issues.

When is rehab a good option?

Inpatient rehab is a higher level of care than IOP. 

Why Patients Choose Inpatient Rehab

Supervision decreases the chances of encountering drugs and physically removes patients from triggers and temptation. 

When is IOP a good option?

IOP is recommended: 

If the IOP offers Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), patients struggling with opioids can detox without going to inpatient rehab or detox center. Not all IOPs offer medical services and not all MATs offer IOP, though Symetria has both.

Why Patients Choose IOP

IOP is cheaper and allows patients to continue their life without worrying about missing out or figuring out what to do with kids, pets, work or other obligations.

What is outpatient rehab?

Outpatient rehab combines IOP with anti-craving medications (like Vivitrol or Suboxone), as well as dual-diagnosis to treat issues like depression, anxiety and trauma. Outpatient rehab matches not just the therapeutic, but also the medical services of inpatient rehab.

The word “rehab” usually refers to inpatient rehab (also called residential rehab), including in this article. But, finding an outpatient rehab that offers not just IOP, but full outpatient rehab services can be the ideal happy medium.

How do I find the right treatment?

Not all IOPs or rehabs are created equal. Finding the right provider can be more important than the level of care.


Be sure the provider has a dual-diagnosis license. The distinction means the provider should treat underlying issues like depression, anxiety and trauma. Some IOPs and inpatient rehabs are 12-step only and don’t treat these related issues that keep patients trapped in negative cycles.

Medication Options

Whether looking for IOP or rehab, look for providers that offer medication options. Anti-craving and dual-diagnosis medications are recommended by all major medical associations.

Accreditation & Reviews

CARF is the highest accreditation for both outpatient and inpatient rehabs. Consistent positive reviews online are also a positive sign.

Symetria IOP & Outpatient Rehab Clinics

Symetria doctors follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, court records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and their own expertise with decades in the field.

Cummings, N.A. Inpatient versus outpatient treatment of substance abuse: Recent developments in the controversy. Contemp Fam Ther 13, 507–520 (1991).

NIDA. 2020, September 18. Principles of Effective Treatment. Retrieved from on 2022, June 20

All content is for informational purposes only. No material on this site, whether from our doctors or the community, is a substitute for seeking personalized professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard advice from a qualified healthcare professional or delay seeking advice because of something you read on this website.

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One Comment

  1. I did iop. It seemed easier than going to rehab, I didn’t want to be locked up like that. I’m so glad I did it bc I was able to keep & work around my job/schedule. Highly recommend

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