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Drug And Alcohol Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Dr. Gerardo Sison

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Gerardo Sison

March 29, 2019

As many individuals recovering from addiction can attest, drug rehabilitation does not happen overnight. Instead, it is a lifelong journey that requires dedication and support and is bound to have setbacks from time to time. For many, a partial hospitalization program may be the treatment they need to overcome addiction once and for all.

The best treatment for many types of addiction incorporates coaching and equipping clients with the coping skills to handle the cravings and temptations associated with addiction. This is often done in a process that begins with inpatient rehab, where a client will actually reside at a rehabilitation facility and be provided with 24 hour support. For some drug dependencies such as alcohol, benzodiazepine, and opioid addictions, medical detox may be a necessary first step to ensure a client is able to safely detox from the drug.

Following inpatient rehabilitation, clients have many options for what type of treatment to choose as a next step. For some patients, basic outpatient rehab is a good option. Others may seek a halfway house or another type of drug-free living accommodation. Partial hospitalization programs, or PHP, are another resource clients can utilize if they need more support than basic outpatient rehab but would like to return to their own homes at night. Choosing a program that fits your needs best is key to a successful recovery.

What Is A Partial Hospitalization Program?

The term ‘partial hospitalization’ may be scary to some, but in reality, partial hospitalization programs are simply a more intense form of a typical outpatient program. Typical outpatient rehabilitation programs often utilize weekly or bi-weekly meetings along with alumni events and sponsorship opportunities. The intention of outpatient programs like this is to continue to support each client on their journey to recovery after they return home, as well as to build a support network for tough days ahead.

Partial hospitalization programs, on the other hand, are more intense than typical outpatient programs. Like outpatient programs, clients will still be able to live in their homes and be surrounded by family and friends but will attend program sessions 3-5 days per week. These program sessions often take place in a rehab facility or hospital, which is why they are usually referred to as partial hospitalization programs or PHPs.

Program sessions generally last 4-6 hours per day and meet several times a week, which allows clients to fully immerse themselves in their rehabilitation and get on a regular routine. These sessions will often include group meetings, one on one counseling sessions, aftercare planning, and holistic therapies. Some programs can also offer medical detox and/or medication therapies to assist in dealing with cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with addiction.

Who Is A Good Candidate For Partial Hospitalization Programs?

Partial hospitalization programs are intended to be a supplement to an inpatient rehabilitation program. Inpatient rehabilitation is an essential first step in the addiction recovery process because it lays the foundation for the coping mechanisms and behavioral skills necessary to continue the recovery process at home. Outpatient programs and partial hospitalization programs make a great follow-up step after any inpatient rehabilitation program because they encourage and enhance the practice and real-world application of these skills.

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Like many inpatient rehabilitation programs, some partial hospitalization programs can be tailored to a client’s specific needs instead of using the same blanket sessions for everyone. For that reason, partial hospitalization programs could be an option for everyone. It is not uncommon for a residential rehab facility to recommend a PHP following completion of their inpatient program.

The most important thing to consider when looking at PHPs is if you are ready for this step in the recovery process. Partial hospitalization programs are a step down from residential inpatient programs, which means that there will be less supervision and an expectation that some amount of behavioral and psychological foundation has been laid already. If a client does not already have this foundation, they are at a higher risk for relapse because they may not be emotionally or mentally equipped to handle the stress of living back in their old environment.

Partial hospitalization programs are best suited for clients who:

  • Have completed an inpatient residential rehab program and are ready to live at home but still need more support than traditional outpatient programs
  • Are participating in outpatient rehabilitation but decide that they need additional support and continued therapies to keep on track
  • Do not have substance-related, mental, or emotional support that meets the needs of intensive inpatient rehab
  • Individuals who have suffered from a relapse but do not necessarily need to go back to inpatient rehab

What To Expect At A PHP

Partial hospitalization programs can vary in their approaches and modalities across the board, but all programs will consist of sessions that include one on one counseling, group counseling, professional emotional and behavioral therapy, as well as medication therapies in some cases.

One big test that many clients may experience during their time in a partial hospitalization program is resisting the temptation of drugs and alcohol in an uncontrolled environment. For many clients, partial hospitalization programs may be their first step following an inpatient rehab program, meaning they will be experiencing newfound freedom.

Along with this freedom will come the cravings and temptations of their previous life before inpatient rehab, which can be quite the test for some clients. Partial hospitalization programs are well-equipped to handle these types of temptations and stressors and are prepared to help coach clients through their first big test utilizing the skills they gained during their time in inpatient rehab.

Therapists and counselors are able to guide and coach clients through their newfound freedom of living at home. One of the biggest benefits of meeting with a therapist multiple days per week after returning home is the opportunity to actually apply the coping mechanisms and skills that were learned during inpatient rehab. This application is a real-world approach and can equip a client with the resourcefulness necessary to prevent relapses in the future.

Length Of Treatment For Partial Hospitalization Programs

For almost all forms of drug addiction rehabilitation, the length of treatment can vary from client to client based on the severity of the addiction and where the client is in their recovery process. For most partial hospitalization programs, the length of treatment will be estimated after a full evaluation of the client and will continue to be updated as the client progresses through the program.

A typical partial hospitalization program will require clients to meet 3-5 days per week for up to 8 hours per day, ensuring the client is fully immersed in their rehabilitation despite being able to get back to their families and even work part-time. These programs can last anywhere from 30 days to six months, however, insurance can have a big impact on how long they will cover the treatment for.

Funding Your PHP

Like many inpatient and outpatient rehab programs, the cost of each program will vary based on intensity, length of treatment, and quality of the facility. Partial hospitalization programs tend to cost much less than many inpatient programs, as they do not need to provide you with housing, food, and other living needs.

Some insurances will cover partial hospitalization programs, especially if they take place at a specific hospital or rehabilitation facility. For many insurance plans, documented ‘need’ must come from your primary care physician. This basically means that your doctor must state that you have a medical need from substance abuse and that they believe partial hospitalization programs may be a good treatment option for you.

If your insurance does not cover PHP, other types of rehabilitation such as inpatient, outpatient, or medical detox may be a better option for you. Some facilities may offer need-based or income-based payment plans for clients who do not have the funding to cover their treatment. Check with your insurance provider to see what rehabilitation options are covered under your plan.

What Comes Next?

After successfully completing a partial hospitalization program, clients will commonly be referred to an outpatient rehabilitation program. This type of program will bear some similarities to the PHP, but will be much less intensive. Often times outpatient rehabilitation programs will meet 1-2 days/week and only for a few hours each day.

Outpatient rehabilitation is intended to allow clients to get back to their normal lives including living at home, going back to work, and getting back to their social lives. Because of this, outpatient meetings are usually designed to allow for some flexibility and will often take place in the evenings to allow for a normal work schedule.

Outpatient programs are less likely to check in on a client if they do not show up for meetings or seem to be lacking in communication. They are geared more towards offering support when needed and simply aiding each client in assimilating back into the real world. It is very important to evaluate your level of independence before considering an outpatient program, as participating in one before you are ready for that level of independence could result in a relapse.

Get Help Today

With so many treatment options out there, it can be overwhelming to search for a program that is right for you. Fortunately, we have experts that can help you find the option that will serve your recovery best. Our addiction treatment specialists are experienced in providing potential clients with rehabilitation options that best match where they are in their journey to recovery.

If you believe a partial hospitalization program may be something that could benefit yourself or a loved one, reach out to one of our addiction treatment specialists for more information. They will always keep your call confidential, and we have specialists available to talk around the clock. Let us help you take the next step in your recovery journey, give us a call today. - Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment

JAMA Psychiatry - Systems Approach to Day Hospitalization

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction

US National Library of Medicine: National Institutes of Health - Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence

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