What’s the Difference Between IOP Vs PHP in Addiction Treatment?

Drug and alcohol addiction, or substance use disorders (SUD), are considered a disease that affects the physical, mental, and behavioral aspects of a person. Like any other condition, its symptoms manifest differently and in varying intensities in different people. Therefore, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to addiction treatment. 

Several treatment options are available for patients struggling with substance use disorder. However, the most suitable one for you or your loved one will depend on many factors, such as the type of addictive disorder, the severity of the addiction, the length of substance use, and prior rehabilitation.

Two of the most common treatment programs a patient may encounter in a rehab facility are intensive outpatient programs (IOP) and partial hospitalization programs (PHP). In this article, we will discuss in detail the difference between these two programs, so you’ll know which one is the best for you or your loved one. 

What is IOP treatment?

An intensive outpatient program, or IOP, refers to a therapeutic program that addresses addiction, mental disorders (e.g., depression, eating disorders), and other dependencies that do not require detoxification or 24/7 supervision. 

IOPs are structured to provide help and support to people struggling with substance use disorder without the need to stay in a hospital or rehab facility. This type of program addresses mild to moderate addiction by establishing coping strategies, support mechanisms, and relapse management. 

Intensive outpatient programs offer a flexible scheduling system so patients can continue their commitments outside, such as work and family matters. Patients will receive the highest level of care possible without the restrictions of an inpatient rehab facility. 


Is IOP treatment right for you?

Generally, an intensive outpatient program is only recommended for patients who need a step down from inpatient care and a partial hospitalization program. This means that patients under IOP treatment have already been in a residential or inpatient facility and must have made significant progress in their recovery.  

Your medical team will thoroughly evaluate your specific circumstances to ascertain if IOP is the right choice for you or your loved one. An ideal candidate for an intensive outpatient program is as follows:

  • Patients that have already undergone a medically-supervised detoxification or have already attended inpatient rehab or partial hospitalization program.
  • Patients that do not need 24/7 care, assistance, and treatment services. 
  • Patients that have a safe and nurturing home environment. They should be surrounded by family and loved ones that support recovery efforts and encourage healthy behaviors.

What happens during an intensive outpatient program?

IOP treatments require patients to attend multiple sessions per week (at least 3 days) that can last for up to 3 hours each. IOPs may go on for as long as 3 weeks or more, depending on the patient’s recovery progress. Additionally, the duration of weekly sessions can decrease based on the patient’s performance and the medical team’s assessment. 

Intensive outpatient programs offer flexible scheduling that can accommodate one’s strict work or academic hours. Patients will visit the facility depending on their chosen appointment (morning, afternoon, or evening) and participate in various therapies and treatment services, such as:

  • Individual therapy, which may include family dynamics counseling and trauma support
  • Group therapy may include self-esteem and wellness, nutritional counseling, social skills training, and expressive therapy.
  • Family therapy
  • Psychoeducation and mental health support
  • Case management
  • Behavioral therapies, such as CBT and DBT
  • Medication management and pharmacological tools.
  • 12-step programs
  • Holistic therapies include acupuncture, art therapy, yoga, and adventure therapy.
  • Aftercare and relapse prevention program

These intensive therapies are used in conjunction with one another to treat a patient as a whole and address all the symptoms of their addiction. 


What is PHP treatment?

A partial hospitalization program, or PHP, is an addiction treatment program that offers intensive care without requiring the patient to live on-site. It is like a part-time or day treatment service that allows patients to participate and receive therapy during the day and then goes home at night. 

PHP treatment provides the same level and structure of care as that of inpatient or residential programs. The only difference is that patients are not required to stay overnight and live in the facility. 

Is PHP treatment right for you?

A partial hospitalization program is often called a direct “step-down” option after a patient has been released from inpatient rehab. This type of program is directly comparable to a residential rehab when it comes to the intensity of care and treatment services provided.

PHPs are recommended for the following patients:

  • Patients who have already done medical detoxification and attended residential inpatient rehab. 
  • Patients who have made huge progress in their recovery but still need intensive care due to the high risk of relapse at this stage.
  • Patients with co-occurring mental illnesses in addition to substance abuse.
  • Patients who are not making good progress in an intensive outpatient program.

Unlike IOP, PHPs require more time and commitment from patients and provide a much more intensive type of care. So, it is recommended for patients who just got out of rehab but do not feel stable as of yet. 

How does a partial hospitalization program work?

Partial hospitalization programs can be tailored to suit the specific needs of each patient. But generally, they require an average of 5 sessions (days) per week that can last for as long as 5 to 8 hours per day. 

Therapies and treatment services under PHP provide patients ample support and structure from the facility while allowing them to gradually transition back into the community. Some examples of services a patient might encounter during their PHP treatment include the following:

  • Medication-assisted therapy and medical services, if needed
  • One-on-one therapy and counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Psychoeducation and other forms of continued education
  • Psychological treatment and services to manage mental health disorders.
  • Medication management and pharmacological tools.
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Outdoor-based therapy
  • Employment and educational assistance
  • Relapse prevention program

Both individual and group level therapies are designed to help patients battle maladaptive thoughts and focus on their treatment plan. It addresses the physical, emotional and psychological effects of addiction while improving every aspect of a patient’s life.

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IOP vs. PHP: what’s the difference between them?

The main difference between an intensive outpatient program and a partial hospitalization program is as follows:

  • Time and commitment

PHP requires more time and commitment from a patient than IOPs. Most patients spend, more or less, 8 hours daily for five times a week under PHP programming, while patients in IOP only get to spend 9 hours weekly in treatment. 

  • Intensity of care 

Both treatment options offer the highest level of care possible to provide the needs of the patient. However, PHP does offer a much more intensive level of care and support since patients under this program are more vulnerable to relapse.

  • Services offered 

Since PHP provides a more intensive form of treatment, it’s not surprising to know that it offers both medical and psychiatric services. This is especially helpful to patients who are also battling mental illnesses on top of their substance use disorder. 

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If you greatly value privacy and comfort as you recover from substance abuse addiction, then our California luxury rehab at Innovate Recovery and Rehab Center is for you. 


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The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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