PHP vs IOP — The Pros and Cons of Each

May 19, 2022

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, including addiction, you may have considered getting treatment, which means you’ve probably come across the terms PHP and IOP.

Today, the term treatment encompasses a lot. When most people think of treatment or rehab, the first thing that comes to mind is residential treatment. Residential treatment usually involves a medical detox and a stay that usually lasts between 30 to 90 days.

Thinking of being away from your home and work for that long might seem overwhelming or even impossible. Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are options for people for whom residential treatment isn’t the best fit.

With PHP or IOP, you’re able to go home at the end of every day to take care of anything you may need to. Some people are able to attend PHP and IOP in a way where they can keep their same job schedule without any interruption. 

Although residential treatment is usually highly recommended as a first step when it comes to addiction recovery, PHP and IOP can be effective.

So how do you know whether you should go to a PHP vs IOP? It’s something you should discuss with an experienced mental health professional to determine where in the continuum of treatment your best option lies. Treatment for addiction, as we know it today, can be seen as happening in stages.

Here’s an example of what those stages might be and what order they could be in.

  1. Residential treatment
  2. PHP
  3. IOP
  4. Continuing care
  5. Sober living

What Is PHP?

Deciding on what level of care you should get for your substance abuse issue depends on some different factors. These factors include:

Some people skip residential treatment and go right into PHP based on some of these factors. You may be a good candidate to go directly to PHP if you are not going through detox from any drugs including alcohol. 

PHP is basically the same as residential treatment, except that you don’t stay at the facility overnight.

A PHP day may start at 8 a.m. and end at 2 p.m., and they are typically 5 days a week. You will usually eat lunch at the location of your PHP. PHP sessions are very similar to sessions/classes you may attend in residential treatment.

These sessions may consist of:

Many PHPs will give you access to a psychiatrist as well.

PHP can be a difficult option for many people because of how time-consuming it is. Some PHPs may have flexible options for you to attend.

However, if you are going to a PHP that doesn’t have that type of flexibility, being able to work a full-time job can be extremely difficult and in some cases not possible. 

However, if your addiction is getting to the point where it is affecting your job, you may want to talk to your employer about getting the help you need and see what arrangements can be made.  

What Is IOP?

An IOP is considered a step-down from PHP. Instead of going for 5 days a week, you may go 3 days a week for a total of 9 hours a week. You will still get intensive care, but integrating back into daily living might be easier at this phase.

For instance, many IOPs have different schedules designed to work around most work schedules. This makes having a full-time job and taking care of kids very doable while still receiving a high level of treatment.

Many insurance companies will help with the cost of an IOP, sometimes making it more affordable than PHP. Whether you do PHP first or go straight to IOP depends on the same factors that were mentioned earlier.

The Benefits of PHP vs IOP

There are numerous benefits to attending a PHP or IOP. Here are just a few of them.

Treatment Plan

A treatment plan is something you and a treatment team will develop together. It will have an assessment of your life history (including substance abuse history) and your current situation.

Things that might be on a treatment plan are:

Maybe the most important part of your treatment plan is developing and reaching your short-term and long-term goals. It can provide you with a road map of what to do as you move forward in your recovery journey.

For example, if you’re in PHP, your treatment plan might say that you need to step down to IOP, attend all IOP sessions, and start going to 12-step meetings.

Then once you’re in IOP, your treatment plan can hold you accountable. It can show you the success you got from trying to achieve your treatment plan goals.

Support From Peers

A big part of recovery is being around other addicts who are trying to stay sober. You can relate to one another as no one else can.

You may become friends with the people that you attend a PHP or IOP with. You can give each other helpful feedback in group therapy sessions and also learn to empathize.

Building relationships with peers in recovery creates an outstanding level of accountability. Many times, PHP and IOP patients will know of good recovery meetings, such as Narcotics Anonymous meetings, to go to.

You can exchange phone numbers and meet one another at meetings.

Being involved in recovery with your peers will both inspire you and them to continue down the road of recovery.

By interacting with peers in PHP and IOP, you will learn social skills that may have been lost during the course of your addiction. PHPs and IOPs provide a safe place for recovering addicts to come together and start a new life, as uncomfortable as that may be at some times.

Medication Management and MAT

When attending a PHP or an IOP, you will usually have access to a psychiatrist. Any medications you may be on can be adjusted while you are monitored for the duration of your attendance in these programs.

You can also talk to the doctor about medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT makes use of medication that can help with withdrawal symptoms and cravings for specific substances.

The Takeaway

PHP is extremely time-consuming and usually not doable for many people if they are trying to have their daily rituals undisturbed. It can also be more expensive than IOP.

The main thing to consider when choosing to go to PHP (and then IOP) or IOP (with no PHP before it) is the severity of your current addiction. As always, it’s best to consult a mental health/addiction professional to help make this kind of decision.

IOP at ASIC Recovery

Looking for substance abuse treatment in Texas? At ASIC Recovery, our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is dedicated to helping individuals develop healthier coping skills and build a supportive recovery network. Click to learn more.

Get Help Today.
Start Now