Transitioning from Inpatient Treatment to Intensive Outpatient Care: A Guide for Men in Southern California

man being comforted during outpatient group therapy session

Substance abuse treatment is a pivotal experience for millions seeking recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. These programs provide a clear, comprehensive path to freedom from the self-imposed prison of addiction. Many facilities offer different levels of care to meet the unique needs of individuals at different points in their early sobriety, including:

  • Medical detox
  • Inpatient/residential treatment
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
  • Aftercare

If you are not familiar with addiction treatment, you may feel overwhelmed by all of your options. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, either, which can make things feel even more complicated. These different levels of care ensure that people receive the care they need, no matter their circumstances.

While not everyone requires every level of care to achieve sobriety, some people benefit from progressing through the entire continuum of care. For example, you may start with either medical detox or inpatient treatment during the first few weeks then transition to a partial hospitalization program or intensive outpatient program. 

The transition from inpatient treatment to intensive outpatient care is a critical time in your recovery. You move away from the structured inpatient treatment environment to the more flexible support of an IOP. Setting yourself up for a successful shift between these levels of care is vital for your sobriety and long-term wellness.

If you are a man in Southern California struggling with your alcohol or drug use, find out how a smooth transition to the right IOP can mean the difference between struggle and success in your recovery.

The Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment

There are five broad levels of service on the continuum of care for substance abuse treatment: medical detox, inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient care, and drug and alcohol counseling. Each level of care provides specific services to help you at each stage of your journey through early recovery. What does each level of care involve?

Medical Detox

Separating from substances is the first step in any addiction treatment program, and medical detox oversees this process. Detox services ensure a smooth separation from substances, including the management of withdrawal symptoms and cravings during the first few days and weeks of sobriety.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment, also called residential treatment, is the highest level of care that provides 24-hour care. You receive services like individual counseling, group therapy, and medication management during the day and reside at the facility during your program. Most inpatient treatment programs last between 30 and 90 days before you transition to another level of care, like an intensive outpatient program.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) are similar to inpatient treatment but without the residential component. They offer the same high level of intensive programming during the week but you stay off-site, either at home or a sober living facility. PHP either serves as a bridge between inpatient and outpatient treatment, or some people opt for a PHP because the lack of residential services makes it a more accessible option.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are a scaled-down option for addiction treatment that offers treatment services three to five days per week for about three hours per day. It includes counseling, group therapy, and other treatment services like inpatient treatment but on an outpatient basis and with fewer weekly treatment hours. This enables you to receive vital treatment services while still maintaining other responsibilities in your life, such as work, school, or family. IOP either serves as a transition service between inpatient treatment and everyday life or as a standalone service for those who cannot commit the time to an inpatient program. 


Addiction aftercare is the final level of care in a comprehensive treatment program. It involves counseling or therapy for one to two hours per week. This provides ongoing support and a place to check in as you reintegrate into daily life while maintaining your newfound sobriety. Aftercare programs are an excellent way to maintain accountability after completing treatment and still receive some insight and support when needed. 

The Importance of Transitioning to Intensive Outpatient Care

Some people view inpatient treatment vs. intensive outpatient care as a “one or the other” option, but they are complementary. Inpatient treatment and IOPs are the two most commonly used levels of care. Inpatient treatment safely separates you from substances and helps you lay the groundwork for your early recovery. IOPs further develop the skills you learn during inpatient treatment and offer support as you implement them in daily life outside a structured treatment environment.

The transition from inpatient treatment to intensive outpatient care is one of the most critical times during your recovery journey. Inpatient treatment is an incredible resource during the first few days and weeks away from alcohol and drugs because it offers structured services and round-the-clock care to keep you occupied and away from substances. After you establish a solid foundation for your recovery, though, the time comes to move out of residential care and into one that reacquaints you with the experiences and difficulties of daily life. 

Setting yourself up for a successful transition to intensive outpatient care is one of the most important things you can do. Inpatient treatment programs ensure you are on solid footing before moving you into an IOP. You want to make sure you are mentally prepared for the challenges that you will face with the newfound freedom that comes with the limited structure and fewer treatment hours of intensive outpatient care. How can you set yourself up for success as you transition to outpatient treatment?

Steps to Transition from Inpatient Treatment to Intensive Outpatient Care

There are a few steps you can take when the time comes to transition from inpatient treatment to outpatient. These should ensure a smooth shift between the levels of treatment and set you up for long-term success in your recovery and overall well-being. 

1. Planning your transition

The shift between inpatient treatment and intensive outpatient care begins with your treatment team. Your case manager, therapist, and other treatment specialists establish benchmarks for your success in treatment. Once you meet these criteria, your care team plans your transition to intensive outpatient care.

2. Finding the right IOP

Some treatment programs offer a full continuum of care with each level of treatment at their facility. Others specialize in certain levels of care and work with other facilities to transition you between programs. If you are at a program that offers the latter, you will work with your treatment team to find the IOP that is best for you. For example, local intensive outpatient care is a great option for men with families, work, and other responsibilities they need to balance with their treatment program.

3. Prepare for the transition

Preparation is the final step for your transition between inpatient and outpatient care. Recognize that the change in routine, environment, and responsibility will come with new mental and emotional challenges. You regain some freedom but must adapt to the schedule change and additional exposure to triggers that come with leaving intensive care. Once you and your treatment team feel you are ready, you can transition from inpatient treatment to IOP.

Is Intensive Outpatient Care Right For You?

Inpatient treatment is not the only way to achieve recovery. Although residential programs are a great option for those first seeking treatment, intensive outpatient programs are another excellent option for substance abuse treatment. 

Inpatient treatment provides guidance and round-the-clock support in a structured environment as you lay the groundwork for your recovery. Intensive outpatient programs equip you with the skills to establish the foundation for your recovery and then send you home to practice the skills in your daily life. There is no one right choice; there is only the choice that is right for you.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the financial resources to attend a full continuum of care for addiction treatment. Thankfully, many intensive outpatient programs, such as New Origins, offer a high level of care and support that matches an inpatient program but on an outpatient basis. We provide comprehensive care and support to each individual who seeks help at our facility, no matter where they are on their path to recovery.

New Origins is an excellent choice for men in Southern California struggling with alcohol and substance abuse problems. Our intensive outpatient programs equip you with the tools and skills to achieve and maintain recovery while still giving you time to manage your other responsibilities. You can still go to work and be present for your family as you attend your treatment program when you choose New Origins.

To speak with an admissions specialist and learn more about our programs and services, call us at (855) 984-1788 or submit an online request form today!