PHP or IOP—What’s the Difference?
Addiction treatment and recovery involves a lot of terms, definitions, and acronyms that are not always intuitive at first. But knowing these terms is important to getting the right care. Learning the difference between an IOP versus a PHP versus inpatient care can help you or a loved one start your recovery journey now and keep it going long into the future.
Levels of Addiction Care and Treatment
You have probably heard of inpatient addiction treatment, thanks to either news or entertainment media. This involves staying at a treatment facility, day and night, for a set period of time. It offers the most comprehensive treatment, but for many, inpatient or residential treatment is just the beginning of the process.
The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment explains that recovery success comes from choosing the right treatment followed by a long-term continuing care plan. So what should accompany inpatient treatment, or what are your options if you don’t want, need, or have access to that level of care?
The next most familiar term is likely “outpatient treatment,” or an intensive outpatient program (IOP). The option you may not have heard of for addiction and mental health treatment is a partial hospitalization program (PHP). Because PHPs sit right between intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) and inpatient treatment on the spectrum of care, learning exactly what they are is a good place to also start understanding your options for treatment and which ones may best fit into your life.
What Does AN IOP vs. A PHP Look Like?
Let’s take a look at an intensive outpatient program compared to a partial hospitalization one. The term “hospitalization” can be offputting for some, but the truth is that a PHP is still an outpatient program, but it’s somewhat more intensive than an IOP. Programming times and days vary by provider, but at our PHPs you’ll receive treatment five to six hours a day, five days a week, while our IOPs include three hours of programming each day for four days per week (with optional experiential programming and psychiatry on day five). IOPs can even be done completely virtually, for those who can’t be away from home due to work or parenting responsibilities or who just feel more comfortable in an online setting!
At our PHPs you’ll receive treatment five to six hours a day, five days a week, while our IOPs include three hours of programming each day for four days per week (with optional experiential programming and psychiatry on day five).
We and many other providers use PHPs as a transition to an IOP. An IOP is then followed by one more step down to regular therapy and check-ins, all of which can become less frequent over time as you find stability in your recovery. But even as you cycle out of treatment, you will never be left without access to support when you need it.
While in a PHP, you’ll have a schedule filled with individual therapy, psychiatry sessions, family therapy, and other support and treatment as needed, such as neurofeedback. Treatment will focus on stabilization, safety, and regulation. No two patients are the same, so no two PHP experiences will be identical either. At The Meadows Outpatient Center, we create a personalized program and offer the resources that will work for you or your loved one, no matter where you are in your recovery journey.
IOP vs. PHP and Mental Health Treatment
When considering IOP versus PHP, mental health status may be a consideration. The Journal of Substance Use shares that “psychological distress,” including anxiety, depression, and other mental health symptoms, is a factor in both alcohol abuse and in relapse. They suggest that a PHP offers better recovery success rates than an IOP for those with co-occurring disorders. Of course, since PHP involves more focused treatment time each week, that’s not surprising.
Meadows Outpatient Executive Director Jim Corrington explains that in a PHP, you won’t only receive support for substance use disorder recovery — we support recovery from childhood relational trauma, PTSD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and more. If your treatment program does not offer intensive addiction and mental health treatment, you are not getting the full support and resources you need for a comprehensive and long-term recovery.
Choosing BETWEEN IOP AND PHP
If you’re contemplating treatment for yourself or a loved one, how can you know if a PHP is the right choice? Or, if inpatient treatment or an IOP is a better one? The best way to determine this is to get an assessment from a professional. Our Meadows Admissions Specialists can get that process started or you can consult your own mental or physical healthcare provider.
As the Psychiatric Hospital shares, “Placement in a partial hospital program is a clinical decision that can be made only by a physician thoroughly knowledgeable about the patient’s illness, history, environment, and support system.” However, this doesn’t mean you don’t get a say in the treatment or treatment setting. Know your options so you can advocate for your best choice and get the care that works for you, your recovery needs, and your life circumstances.
Know your options so you can advocate for your best choice and get the care that works for you, your recovery needs, and your life circumstances.
Inpatient treatment offers the most support, especially if you have a home or social life that is supporting your drug or alcohol use. However, inpatient treatment may not be covered by your insurance, or you may not be able to take the time off from your work or family responsibilities.
If you can and do choose inpatient treatment, following up with a PHP can shorten your length of stay at this most intensive level of care, or can help you transition from it to an IOP. When it comes to partial hospitalization versus intensive outpatient programs, PHPs offer more support for those with co-occurring mental health concerns, greater recovery or detox supervision needs, and less support at home.
Finding the Right Recovery Program for You
Reach out to us at The Meadows Outpatient Center to learn more about your options. We offer compassionate, professional support for determining the right recovery path for yourself or your loved one. We can discuss intensive outpatient programs versus partial hospitalization programs so you can get started on your healing journey today.
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