The Difference Between Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) and Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

For some people, attending drug rehab may not be an option, and that’s why intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) exist. If you’re considering rehab, you may be concerned about leaving life behind for a long period of time while focusing on healing. In truth, this method is often the best way, as it gives you the greatest chance at success in recovery.

If you simply can’t participate in an extended rehab stay, however, there may be other options. The main difference between IOPs and PHPs is the length of time. Intensive outpatient programs are typically completed in a rehab facility setting, a few days a week for a few hours each day. Partial Hospitalization Programs are longer, at least four hours a day, and at least five days a week, also in a rehab setting.

How The Programs Work

The IOPs and PHPs differ from traditional rehab in that people who attend these programs aren’t required to stay overnight, or for an extended period of time. Instead, program participants complete treatment during a specified time, on specified days.

These programs especially serve as helpful forms of treatment for those leaving rehab who need just a bit more time in a recovery environment. For instance, after completing a stay at drug rehab, a person might “step down” into a partial hospitalization program and again to an intensive outpatient program.

A PHP, the program which requires longer hours and more days, may be helpful to someone who has completed drug rehab but who is not quite ready to be finished with treatment. An IOP may be useful for someone who is ready to step down from PHP, who needs long-term management of addiction, or even someone who has relapsed and is hoping to get back on track.

What Happens In IOPs and PHPs?

These programs are usually completed in rehab facilities or hospitals. When you participate in an IOP or PHP, you’ll receive care and undergo treatment methods similar to those found in rehabs. Just as with rehab programs, there is no set session length or duration; the amount of time you’ll spend in these programs depends on your individual needs.

The goal of IOPs and PHPs is to provide participants with continued access to necessary treatment modalities. These may include group or individual counseling, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and relapse prevention skills. In certain PHPs, participants may undergo medication-assisted therapy, such as Suboxone Therapy, when needed.

Depending on the rehab you choose for your program, you may participate in any number of recreational activities or treatment modalities offered in the facility. Some rehabs offer outdoor-based programs, and skill-building activities utilizing the great outdoors. Others may incorporate yoga, stress management techniques, and more.

Each program differs from the next. While rehab may be over for you, you can continue treatment principles and working toward your recovery goals when you enter a PHP or IOP.

Addition Treatment Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

With partial hospitalization programs, you’ll spend a great deal of time in the program each day, with treatment occupying a good amount of your day. For example, some programs are in session 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. You’ll attend therapy and counseling at the facility, and also take part in activities and meals there.

The only thing you won’t do is stay overnight or for a full day. Some PHP’s can be as short as four hours per session, while others may range up to eight hours. As explains, a PHP is “more intense than the care you can get in a doctor’s or therapist’s office.”

In other words, you get the care of a rehab facility but begin (or have already begun) integrating back to your daily routine. PHP’s help you keep on track with recovery goals and continue principles gained in treatment.

People in these programs have typically reached the point where they can fully participate in all methods of therapy and treatment, and no longer need extended psychological or physical care. That means that you have to be capable of living on your own, and may have to find transportation to and from the program.

Essentially, entering a PHP means you are confident in your progress at rehab and are ready for the next step in your recovery. Addiction is a chronic disease that requires long-term management. Continuing treatment after leaving rehab is not a failure, but a sign of commitment to your health and well-being.

Some of the benefits you may find in a partial hospitalization program include:

  • Medication-assisted therapy: even if you complete rehab, you may need to continue medication for a time
  • Group and individual therapy: each has its benefits, but group therapy allows you to connect in a safe, welcoming environment while learning from the experiences of others. Individual therapy allows you to process your progress and any relapses and focus on solutions.
  • Family resources and education: much like in rehab, family therapy, and continued education can be essential to helping your recovery success
  • Outdoor-based programs: which teach skill-building and support a strong sense of self
  • Holistic therapies for addiction
  • Access to many of the treatment modalities utilized during rehab for a continued dedication to recovery principles

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)

Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs, like PHPs, are intended for people who don’t need medically supervised detoxification or round-the-clock care. As previously mentioned, IOP’s may be right for people as the next step after rehab and a PHP.

An IOP may be shorter than a PHP, lasting just a few hours and only a couple of days a week. Yet for someone recovering from addiction, this can be the difference between staying on the path of recovery and falling back into behaviors that foster addiction. Many of these programs strongly encourage participation in a 12-step program, as they have helped many people stay on the path of sobriety for decades.

You may be back to your normal, daily activities of work, school, or family life, but the pull of addiction can still be a threat. Intensive outpatient programs allow you to continue treatment principles when you’re confident enough to begin your new, substance-free life but still need the principles of treatment to help you stay on track.

The following are some ways intensive outpatient programs may help you in your recovery efforts:

  • Offering you the next “step-down” after rehab or a PHP
  • Networking: having a strong support group is important to recovery success, and IOPs may provide the small, safe environment you need for your continued efforts
  • Teamwork: continual support from staff and peers
  • Providing evidence-based treatment modalities that work for you, similar to those found in rehab
  • Aftercare Support: helping you to figure out where to go in your recovery journey once finished with the program

Which Program Is Right For Me?

If you’re new to the process of seeking addiction treatment and wondering which of these programs is right for you, or if you should enter a residential treatment center, take some time while making your decision. Many people are enticed by the convenience factor of IOPs and PHPs, but for first-time treatment participants, these programs may not be the right choice.

Residential drug and alcohol rehab programs are effective for the same reason many people don’t want to attend them: it gets you away from your environment of abuse for an extended period of time. You may be serious about treatment but worried about your job, or family, or social group and how each will fare while you’re gone.

Addiction is a disease that can affect every aspect of your wellness: brain chemistry, physical health, mental health, behaviors, mood, and even sleep patterns. With time, your entire life can be changed due to addiction. The same can be said of many diseases: they change your life. We never question seeking long-term treatment and finding ways to manage those diseases, and we shouldn’t for addiction, either.

Recovery from addiction is a different experience for everyone and each person must decide when and where to attend treatment. In the end, the best thing you can do is make the decision to seek help, a decision that will change the course of your life for the better.

How Common is Addiction in the United States?

More than 23 million people aged 12 and older needed treatment for addiction in 2009 alone, according to the National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA). Unfortunately, only about 11 percent of those people received treatment. Millions of people need treatment for substance abuse and addiction every year, yet only a small amount of those people get the help they need to recover.

The NIDA reports that those who make it into treatment will see effective outcomes: stopping or reducing substance abuse, lessened crime, and overall improved social and occupational functioning. When you stay wrapped in the grips of addiction, there is also the constant worry of a possible overdose, which claims thousands in the U.S. every year.

It’s important to find successful addiction treatment not only to save your life but to rebuild it. In drug rehab, and later in intensive outpatient programs and partial hospitalization programs, you learn to live a life free from addiction. At the same time, as with any chronic disease, you implement new ways of life that allow you to keep in check behaviors and thoughts that may cause you to relapse.

Finding The Right Addiction Treatment Program

If you’re ready to find the treatment program that best fits your specific needs, we at Vertava Health can assist you. We can connect you with resources to treatment, direct you to rehab centers that incorporate treatment methods you need, and help you figure out the small details, like insurance and out-of-pocket costs. Contact us today.