What’s the Difference Between PHP and IOP?

Addiction has long been viewed as a voluntary problem, as a negative stigma about this disease has persisted throughout decades. While there are still too many people to count who feel as though addiction is a choice, more and more people are realizing that it is not. In fact, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) calls addiction a “primary, chronic disease of the brain, reward, motivation, memory, related circuitry”. And now that more of the general public is understanding addiction for what it is, the demand for treatment of this disease is greater than ever before.

The most common form of addiction treatment, by far, is inpatient treatment. Also known as residential treatment, inpatient treatment requires the individual to reside at the facility until his or her care is complete. Usually lasting anywhere from 28 -90 days, this form of treatment has been known for helping individuals overcome their addictions.

Outpatient treatment is also extremely common. Unlike inpatient treatment, those who engage in outpatient treatment are able to receive numerous therapeutic services throughout the week but are able to continue to reside in their own homes.

While these two forms of treatment are typically the most talked about, there are some other kinds of care that are also effective in treating different kinds of addiction.

What is PHP?

PHP, which is the abbreviation for partial hospitalization program, is a form of treatment that is typically best suited for those who no longer require intensive, residential care but still needs more hands-on care than what is offered through outpatient treatment. Additionally, those who require continued treatment for behavioral or mental health conditions can also benefit from a partial hospitalization program. In many cases, PHP’s are seen as a step-down form of treatment from a residential program.

Partial hospitalization programs often require the individual to go to the facility upwards of five times a week for 4-6 hours at a time. An individual is allowed to go home after his or her daily services. At the time of these services, individuals can receive detox services if medically indicated. However, these detox services are not capable of treating those who have severe withdrawal symptoms, rather those who are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms that can be casually managed. Medical services are also provided and include professional administration of medication and medication management.

When paired with the above-listed services, additional services such as individual therapy and group therapy can also help an individual address the psychological, behavioral, and emotional aspects of his or her addiction. Individual therapy through a partial hospitalization program occurs one-on-one with a patient and a therapist, while group therapy is conducted amongst other patients.

PHP’s are also known for providing additional opportunities, such as meditation, yoga, art therapy, music therapy, and equine therapy.


What is IOP?

An IOP, which is short for an intensive outpatient program, is also a type of addiction treatment that is best for those who do not need residential care, but who need more care than outpatient treatment.  

Intensive outpatient programs typically handle individuals who are also working to balance their home and work lives in addition to their addiction treatment. Therefore, patients go to the treatment center about 3 days per week for only 2-4 hours a day. This allows patients to also go to work and be present in the home.  

Similar to partial hospitalization programs (PHP), intensive outpatient programs can offer detox services to those patients who are not at risk for suffering significant withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, medications can be safely managed by the facility’s medical team to prevent relapse and abuse. Many of these medications can help decrease any bothersome effects of detoxing.

Almost every type of treatment program for addiction includes individual therapy and group therapy, intensive outpatient programs are no different. During the time spent at the facility, an individual will work with a therapist to address his or her deep-rooted issues as they pertain to their addiction. Group therapy sessions will also occur, and those who have experienced similar strife will be brought together to learn and grow from one another.

What are the Differences?

Partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs have many similarities amongst them. For instance, both programs offer individual therapy and group therapy, as well as moderate detox services. These programs are also best for those who fall into that group of individuals who need more care than a regular outpatient program but do not require residential care.

While PHP’s and IOP’s have a number of similarities, they truly are different in many ways. For example, the ideal client for an IOP is someone who has a secure and safe home to return to, a dedicated support system, and minimal risk during detox. The person who is a better fit for a PHP is someone who needs continual medical treatment and has his or her own method of travel.

PHP’s and IOP’s are often confused for being the same type of treatment program. Despite the many similarities, each program is truly unique. IOP’s require more time out of the patients, meaning that they input more hours a week than those who participate in a PHP. A PHP is not as intense as an IOP, even though it sounds more severe. Intensive outpatient treatment programs are viewed as a step-down from residential treatment, meaning that it is closer in similarities to residential treatment than it is anything else. And, while both types of programs allow patients to live at home while receiving treatment, PHP’s provide more freedom and flexibility to engage in everyday activities than IOP’s do (although there is room for balancing both areas of one’s life).

Getting the Help You Need

No matter the kind of substance or substances you are addicted to, there is help and there is hope. Intensive outpatient programs and partial hospitalization programs are two excellent resources for those in need. And, if clinically indicated, one of these programs can help you end your addiction and begin a life of recovery.

If you or someone you love is struggling with the challenges of substance abuse and addiction, know that you are not alone. Millions of people throughout the country grapple with addiction, and you do not have to go through this by yourself.

By developing a strong community connection, addressing your issues as they pertain to your addiction, and making time for beneficial self-care practices, you can be one of the many individuals who are taking the time to turn their lives around. Do not spend one more minute trapped in your addiction. Reach out to us for help.

The Addiction Blog