Intensive Outpatient Program for Substance Use Disorders

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

It may be used for “step-down” treatment following discharge from a detoxification or residential living center. It can also serve as a “step-up” in support and structure for patients seeing an individual therapist at UC San Diego Health.

The structure of the IOP is well suited to individuals who want to maintain connection to their support network while undergoing intensive treatment. It is an effective way to address unhealthy patterns of coping in a welcoming, non-judgmental and compassionate outpatient setting.

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

Individuals in our IOP receive treatment three hours per day, three days per week for three to six weeks. Each patient has a dedicated therapist who provides a weekly review of your progress and revised goals throughout treatment. The IOP is organized around group therapy sessions that use a variety of evidence-based treatment approaches, including:

  • 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 to learn about addiction and how to support loves ones
  • Family and couples therapy as needed
The IOP teaches patients how to improve day-to-day living skills, problem-solving, interpersonal functioning and skills for coping with co-occurring conditions. Family and significant others are encouraged to participate in the treatment process to facilitate lasting recovery and understanding.

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 engage in setting realistic goals for ongoing recovery after the IOP ends. Follow-up care is encouraged for long-term successful recovery and health. Individuals are connected with mutual-aid groups that can further assist with a lifelong recovery process. They are also invited to weekly aftercare group sessions to reinforce what has been learned, prevent relapse and help others on their journey.

Appointments & Referrals

Clinic Location

La Jolla

Our Specialists