We’re always hearing about the rich and famous going into rehab. You might envision some lavish, gated property with lots of water features and palm trees, and certainly, those exist. But for most people committed to recovery, the key decision isn’t which place has the better infinity pool—it’s whether those programs are the best way to reach your goals. If sleeping in your own bed and eating your own food sounds appealing, read on.

On the surface, committing to an inpatient program may feel more like going “all in,” signaling to everyone that you’re serious about it. But recent studies show that an intensive outpatient program (IOP) can lead to equally positive outcomes, even when medical detox is required. Moreover, inpatient treatment tends to be significantly more expensive, and it’s useful to know that expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better.

IOP is structured around a specific weekly time commitment, typically 2–4 hours per day equating to 9–12 hours per week, for as many as 12–16 weeks. It’s almost like an internship, which is by design. In some respects, it requires a deeper commitment to recovery than inpatient programs that may require less time overall. But patients have more, and more frequent access to their support systems with IOP, and can usually work around other commitments such as work, contributing to a greater feeling of control.

One reason IOP is so effective is that it lends itself to a model of continuing care. Your recovery is a journey in which you must replace bad habits with good ones, so integrating your daily and weekly routines into the process makes sense. Inpatient care tends to be more expensive and removes the patient from the context of their life, which can lead to other issues such as depression and low self-esteem. However, since inpatient care and IOP are equally effective, the difference in outcomes depends as much on the patient and the situation as it does on the people and protocols.

IOP can also be a very effective bridge between inpatient care and less-intensive phases of treatment. Many patients enter IOP following an inpatient program, helping ease their transition while continuing to emphasize discipline, accountability, and frequent access to professional help.

The key thing to realize is that you have options for your recovery. Committing to rehab shouldn’t necessarily mean packing your bags and saying goodbye to family and friends, any more than a vacation requires three weeks in Fiji. Knowing there are equally effective—and less expensive—options puts you in the driver’s seat.

Here are 5 benefits of attending an IOP [infographic]

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McCarty, et. al. (2014, June 6) Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence. Retrieved from http://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ps.201300249