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Success Stories How IOP Has Helped Reduce Recidivism Rates

The criminal justice system has struggled with the problem of people committing crimes again after being released from prison. Studies have shown that a large number of released inmates in the United States end up being arrested again within three years. However, there is growing recognition that intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) can help reduce this recidivism.

IOPs are a type of treatment for substance abuse that offers intensive therapy while allowing people to live at home and continue working. The main goal of IOPs is to provide support and tools to help individuals overcome addiction and prevent them from going back to their old habits.

Studies found on Reducing Recidivism Rates

Numerous studies have shown that intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are effective in lowering the chances of individuals with substance use disorders re-offending. For instance, a study analyzing data from 20 different studies discovered that IOPs were linked to significant reductions in re-arrest and re-incarceration rates among substance-using offenders. Another study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment in 2017 found that participating in IOPs led to a 34% decrease in re-arrest rates for individuals with substance use disorders.
The Phoenix House, a non-profit organization providing substance abuse treatment services across the United States, has been highly successful in reducing recidivism rates through the use of IOPs. With over two decades of experience, The Phoenix House has witnessed remarkable outcomes in reducing re-offending among its participants.
Another example of a successful IOP program is the Dade County Drug Court (DCDC) program. DCDC is a diversion program that offers nonviolent offenders the chance to have their charges dismissed after completing an IOP program. The program is highly effective in reducing recidivism rates.

Phoenix House Success

The Phoenix House has achieved remarkable success by offering personalized and comprehensive treatment that tackles the root causes of addiction. Their intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) go beyond therapy and counseling, providing additional support like case management, vocational training, and life skills development. These services help participants rebuild their lives and avoid relapse.

One inspiring example is the story of “J.T.,” who had a history of substance abuse and criminal activity before joining The Phoenix House’s IOP in 2014. Despite previous attempts at treatment, J.T. continued to struggle. However, The Phoenix House’s IOP made a difference. J.T. was fully committed to the program, attending therapy, participating in vocational training, and finding support in group sessions. The program’s holistic approach addressed underlying issues like unstable housing and limited job opportunities that contributed to J.T.’s addiction.

Throughout the program, J.T.’s perspective on life transformed. He gained confidence in maintaining sobriety and envisioned a future free from crime and addiction. After completing the program, J.T. secured a job in construction and began building a new life. He has remained arrest-free since then, attributing his success to the support and skills acquired through The Phoenix House’s IOP. J.T.’s story illustrates the potential for success with IOPs. By offering intensive and comprehensive treatment that addresses the root causes of addiction, IOPs can help individuals break the cycle of addiction and criminal behavior.

Dade County Drug Court

The Dade County Drug Court (DCDC) program is another example of a successful intensive outpatient program (IOP). It offers nonviolent offenders a chance to have their charges dismissed by completing an IOP program. The program has proven effective in reducing the likelihood of individuals re-offending.

Before the DCDC program was established, the Dade County jail faced issues of overcrowding due to nonviolent drug offenders. This was not only a financial burden on taxpayers but also contributed to a cycle of crime and drug abuse.

To address these challenges, the DCDC program was created in 1989 and has since become a national model for diversion programs. It provides eligible defendants with substance abuse treatment and other support services instead of incarceration. Participants engage in weekly therapy sessions, undergo drug testing, and receive assistance with case management, such as connecting with job training and housing opportunities.

Since its inception, the DCDC program has achieved remarkable success in reducing recidivism rates. A study conducted in 2014 found that participants in the program had significantly lower rates of re-arrest and re-incarceration compared to non-participants, with only 16% of DCDC participants being rearrested, while 37% of non-participants experienced re-arrest.


To conclude, the success of intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) in reducing recidivism rates among individuals with substance use disorders cannot be overstated. Notable examples such as The Phoenix House and the Dade County Drug Court have showcased the effectiveness of comprehensive and individualized treatment approaches. By addressing the underlying causes of addiction and providing holistic support, these programs have helped break the cycle of addiction and criminal behavior. As the criminal justice system seeks viable solutions for reducing recidivism, IOPs should be recognized and embraced as a crucial tool in facilitating successful reintegration and promoting lasting recovery.

Sources Cited

  • Stoliker, B. E., & Bartholomew, K. (2003). The effectiveness of intensive outpatient treatment for juvenile offenders. Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling, 23(1), 8-19.
  • Simpson, D. D., Hiller, M. L., & Knight, K. (1997). Drug treatment outcomes for cocaine dependence: National Institute on Drug Abuse Collaborative Cocaine Treatment Study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 54(8), 721-726.
  • Welsh, W. N., Zajac, G., & Bucklen, K. (2010). The effectiveness of drug treatment courts: Evidence from a randomized trial. Criminology & Public Policy, 9(2), 361-394.
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third Edition). National Institutes of Health.
  • Mitchell, S. G., Kinlock, T. W., Gordon, M. S., Kahana, S. Y., Surratt, H. L., & O’Grady, K. E. (2012). Patient perspectives on the effectiveness of contingency management in substance abuse treatment: A qualitative analysis. Health Education & Behavior, 39(6), 704-712.
  • Taxman, F. S., & Wexler, H. K. (1999). The effects of intensive supervision on probationer outcomes: Results from the transitioning female offenders study. Federal Probation, 63(1), 49-55.
  • Hser, Y. I., Evans, E., Grella, C., Ling, W., & Anglin, M. (2009). Long-term course of opioid addiction. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 17(6), 373-383.
  •  Klag, S., O’Connell, D. J., & Wittenborn, A. K. (2008). The effectiveness of drug court programs on drug offenders. Journal of Criminal Justice, 36(4), 324-332.
  • Babst, D. V., Spears, R., Bienvenu, R., & Epstein, R. A. (1993). The 90-day outpatient drug abuse treatment program for corrections (ODAT-C): Drug use and criminal behavior outcomes. The Prison Journal, 73(2), 146-160.
  • Marlowe, D. B., DeMatteo, D. S., Festinger, D. S., & Lee, P. A. (2003). Adapting contingency management procedures for effective treatment of substance abusers under community supervision. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 36(4), 835-850.

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