What is IOP?


If you are looking into substance abuse treatment options for yourself or a loved one, you have likely come across the acronym IOP. What is IOP? IOP is an acronym for Intensive Outpatient Program. An intensive outpatient program, or IOP, is a level of care in the substance abuse treatment continuum. The American Society for Addiction Medicine assigns a numerical level to all forms of substance use disorder treatment on a scale of 0-4 with 4 being the most intensive treatment. Intensive outpatient, or IOP, is a level 2.1 on the ASAM scale. By ASAM’s definition, intensive outpatient programs consist of a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 20 hours per week of addiction treatment. 


In a typical Intensive outpatient program, an individual dealing with addiction or alcoholism will attend the program between 3 and 5 days per week. An IOP session is typically 3 hours long with sessions consisting of a mix of group therapy led by a substance abuse counselor and individual therapy with a substance abuse counselor. 


There are different types of intensive outpatient group therapy sessions. Some of the most utilized group types include psychotherapy groups, discussion groups, didactic groups, educational groups, process groups, and relapse prevention groups. There is also experiential group therapy. These group types tend to be activity based and include art therapy, music therapy, recreation therapy, and adventure therapy. 


Individual therapy sessions in addiction treatment IOPs are typically one hour in duration and are more intimate meetings with the individual and their assigned substance abuse counselor. This allows individuals to discuss subjects they may not feel comfortable discussing in a group setting. It also allows for more individualized work to be done. The subject matter is very much led by the individual based on their current situation, issues, and needs. Counselors at times may increase the frequency of these sessions but 1x/weekly is the standard. 


Individuals may live at home locally within the community or in a supportive housing situation such as a sober living home while attending IOP. This is solely at the discretion of the individual based on needs and personal living situation. Intensive outpatient programs can be attended in 100% person, 100% virtually, or in a hybrid model in which services are offered both in person and virtually throughout the week. A typical intensive outpatient program for substance use disorder or co-occurring conditions will last 8-24 weeks depending on a variety of factors. Schedules are very often titrating, with a client starting at 5 days a week and gradually working their way down to 3 days per week for example. This, like much of what has already been mentioned, will vary based on the program’s policies, treatment planning, individual need, and individual circumstance.

Harbor Wellness and Recovery Center proudly offers intensive outpatient care as one of our treatment options. Our facility is located in Holmdel, NJ with virtual or hybrid options also available. Please call us at 732-847-4555 for more information on our Monmouth county IOP program or any of our treatment options.