It can be difficult to understand the differences between meetings and IOP and why both are necessary. For starters, IOP is essentially the training wheels and meetings are the bicycle that will carry you far in life.
While IOP includes group meetings, these meetings consist of all newly sober individuals; there may be people who have gone through the process before. Everyone has many questions about what to do in situation X or how to handle family members or old friends who still use. There is a host of issues that the group members have yet to experience or walked through healthfully.
Additionally, IOP’s have a group guide, usually a therapist or addiction expert. The group leader makes sure that no one is forgotten or overlooked. Everyone shares how they are doing and expresses any problems that they are facing.
Meetings, on the other hand, have people with every experience under the sun. Some meetings may tend to have more newcomers or old-timers, who are people with a long time in the program. Most meetings have a mixture of both new and old experience in recovery.
It’s not just that those new to the program learn from those who have been there a while. Those with years in recovery also learn from those just coming in, who also serve as a fantastic reminder of the perils of active addiction.
Meetings do not have a leader or direction from formally trained specialists and therapists. The people in 12-step meetings have experience that teaches as much, if not more than books can.
Meetings are not directed, and no one is required to focus on everyone in the group. People new to a meeting are able to hide and get lost if that is their goal. However, in IOP, no one gets lost in a crowd.