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What Is An IOP?

What Is An IOP?

There are a variety of different treatment options for adolescents struggling with substance abuse and/ or addiction, as well as other mental health illnesses. Each teen is unique and will respond distinctly to the various treatment options, finding some methods to be more applicable and effective than others. IOP is an acronym that stands for “Intensive Outpatient Program.” IOPs are structured, short-term treatment options for teenagers that do not require detox or twenty-four-hour supervision. Some teens may elect to enroll in IOP instead of enrolling in a residential substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. While neither level of care is better as studies show both are effective, IOPs may be a more appropriate treatment option based on a variety of contributing factors. IOP can benefit teenager that is able to function at home and in his or her daily life but requires a treatment plan that is more comprehensive than weekly therapy. IOPs re-enforce relapse prevention, accountability, and essential life skills that are necessary to maintain a lifestyle of sobriety.

The Format

Each intensive outpatient program will differ. The individualized care offered, duration of program, and participant expectations will be dependent upon the specific program. Most IOPs will require a participant to attend between ten to twelve hours of group therapy sessions as well as an individual psychotherapy session each week. The required group sessions in an IOP could include a range of different types of therapy groups (e.g., psycho-educational groups, refusal training, skills-development groups, family groups, relapse prevention groups, etc.). The purpose of group sessions is to provide a teen with an array of emotional coping mechanisms, stress-reducing strategies, and developing effective interpersonal skills to assist in his or her continued recovery. Most groups are made up of between eight and fifteen participants.

Individual psychotherapy sessions offer teenagers one-on-one support to further process information brought up during group sessions as well as provide a private setting to discuss issues that the teen may feel uncomfortable discussing in the group session. Individual therapy is also an additional check-in point for a teenager in treatment to uncover any areas that may be interfering with his or her recovery process. While the exact attendance requirements will be dependent on the IOP, to be qualified as an IOP by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) the program must require between nine to twenty hours of participation per week.

For Information and Support

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person for the long term. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives.

Our admissions team is available to answer any general questions regarding mental health issues, treatment, and/or specific questions about the program at Pacific Teen Treatment and how we might be able to help your family. We can be reached by phone 24/7 at 800-531-5769. You can also contact us via email at

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