The purpose of intensive outpatient services is to provide essential educational and treatment components while allowing patients to apply their newly acquired skills within their own environments and without an inpatient residential stay. Generally, treatment services are delivered during the day, before or after work or school, in the evening, or on weekends.

This service is for both adolescents and adults. Patients who are appropriate for intensive outpatient services are ones who:

  • are at minimal risk for severe withdrawal
  • need monitoring for mild severity of emotional, behavioral, or cognitive conditions and complications
  • are ambivalent about treatment or lack awareness of their substance use and require a structured program several times a week to promote progress through the stages of change
  • have a level of addiction that indicates a high likelihood of relapse or continued use or continued problems without close monitoring and support several times a week
  • do not have a supportive recovery environment, but can cope if they have structure and support

Intensive outpatient programs provide comprehensive assessments and treatment plans that are specific to the individual's needs. These plans, which are developed in consultation with patient, include problem statements and goals to work toward to achieve change. The frequency and intensity of treatment at this level depends on patient need, but consists of a planned regimen of scheduled sessions for a minimum of nine hours per week.

At this level of care, intensive outpatient programs often have the capacity to arrange for psychiatric consultation, medication management, and crisis services. Generally, patients also can be helped to access support services such as child care, vocational training, and transportation.

Substance abuse treatment services and this intensive outpatient component are delivered by community-based agencies who are under contract to DHS/Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse. Generally, these services are available locally in communities throughout the state. This system enables clients to be assessed and treated as close to their home communities as possible, allows communities to take ownership of their programs, and facilitates public information. Treatment services are delivered through a continuum approach, with individual clients moving from one level of care to another based on their assessed needs.

In the DHS/OASA substance abuse treatment system in FY 2001, a total of 14,636 intensive outpatient services were delivered to 13,090 persons.