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Intensive Outpatient Program for Substance Use Disorders

UC San Diego Health’s intensive outpatient program (IOP) for substance use disorders is an alternative to residential or inpatient treatment. 

Individuals in our IOP receive treatment three hours a day, three days a week for three to six weeks. The program is based around group therapy sessions, but each patient also has a dedicated therapist who guides them through the program.

Who Can Benefit from the Intensive Outpatient Program?

The program is suited to people who want to stay connected to their support network while undergoing intensive treatment. The IOP can be used as:

  • "Step-down" treatment for people discharged from a detox or residential living center
  • "Step-up" treatment for people who need more support and structure than individual therapy sessions

Substance Use Disorders Treated

We treat all types of substance use disorders, including those associated with:

  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis (marijuana)
  • Heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl and other opioids
  • Methamphetamine, cocaine and hallucinogens
  • Nicotine
  • Prescription drugs

Services for Treating Addiction

The IOP teaches patients how to improve day-to-day living skills, problem-solving, interpersonal functioning and skills for coping with co-occurring conditions. Treatment approaches may include: 

  • Recovery strategies
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavior therapy
  • Stress reduction techniques
  • Mindfulness therapy
  • Management of co-occurring conditions, such as ADHD, PTSD, and mood and anxiety disorders
  • Weekly life-skills group therapy sessions for family and friends 
  • Family and couples therapy as needed. Family and significant others are encouraged to participate in the treatment process.

Medication Management

Patients in the IOP may meet regularly with a psychiatrist to discuss progress and manage medications for:

  • Substance use disorders, such as buprenorphine for opioid use disorder and long-acting injectable and oral naltrexone for alcohol use disorder
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders such as PTSD, depression, anxiety-related disorders and mood disorders

Long-Term Recovery and Aftercare

Before leaving the IOP, patients set goals for lasting recovery. A long-term recovery plan may include:

  • Follow-up care
  • Connections with mutual-aid groups
  • Weekly aftercare group sessions to reinforce what has been learned

Appointments & Referrals

Clinic Location

La Jolla

Our Specialists