Updated on April 3, 2024
7 min read

What's a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)?

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a structured mental health program and type of addiction treatment. People participate in activities during the day and return home at night. These programs are available at an inpatient or residential treatment facility.

PHPs provide structured, comprehensive care while allowing people to live outside of treatment. They’re sometimes called intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) or day programs because they don't require an overnight stay.

Partial hospital programs are for people diagnosed with:4

Someone in a partial hospitalization program is medically monitored during treatment. They participate in a variety of evidence-based therapies.

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Key Takeaways

  • A partial hospitalization program (PHP) provides intensive yet less than 24/7 care for those in need.
  • Professionals may assess your condition beforehand to determine your suitability for PHP treatment.
  • Medical professionals will help you find the right program for you.

What to Expect in a Partial Hospitalization Program

The length of a partial hospitalization program depends entirely on the person’s needs. It’s an intensive, short-term treatment method lasting several weeks to months.

While the treatments and therapies may vary, you can expect these five stages:

1. Evaluation

The first stage is evaluation. People undergo:

  • An interview
  • Medical examination
  • Urine test

These results provide the foundation of the treatment plan.

2. Detoxification

The next step is detox. The body must adjust to functioning without drugs or alcohol.

Detox can be a challenging stage. Withdrawal symptoms are also the worst during this time, so medical care and monitoring are usually necessary.

3. Psychological and Medical Treatment

After detox, therapy and other medical treatments begin.

They focus on the following:

  • Learning skills and techniques to prevent relapse
  • Discovering valuable resources
  • Building a community of people committed to helping each other live healthy, sober lives

4. Transition

Once the knowledge and tools are established, the intensity of treatments will be scaled down.

The number of days or hours spent at the facility will decrease to focus on transitioning to a sober life.

5. Maintenance

Aftercare is an essential part of a partial hospitalization program.

Many groups help provide:

  • Consistent maintenance
  • Continuous skill-building and practicing
  • Support and care throughout a person's sober life

These support groups include:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • SMART Recovery
  • Other peer support systems
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Partial Hospitalization Programs vs. Inpatient and Residential Programs

During inpatient and residential treatment programs, 100 percent of the program occurs at the facility.

You eat, sleep, and undergo all treatments at the residency for the duration of your program. The residency duration for both programs is typically 30, 60, or 90 days.

During partial hospitalization programs, all treatment services occur at the facility.  However, the person returns home to sleep.

A partial hospitalization program may be the next step if you’ve completed an inpatient treatment program but still need intensive care before fully integrating into society.

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Benefits of Partial Hospitalization Programs

One of the main benefits of PHP programs is the ability for people to spend their evenings and weekends at home.

There are several other benefits of partial hospitalization, including:

  • Consistent access to medical and behavioral health specialists. For example, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and psychologists
  • More cost-effective than inpatient care
  • Insurance may cover more sessions (you'll receive care for a more extended period)
  • Provides a slow and safe move from inpatient care to real life
  • Allows people to practice skills they learn in treatment in the real world
  • Flexible scheduling will enable people to remain employed, in school, or take care of family responsibilities
  • PHPs are filled with many specialists and experts, allowing them to lead highly effective educational classes

Disadvantages of Partial Hospitalization Programs

The main disadvantage of partial hospitalization programs is the reduced level of care compared to inpatient programs.

PHP programs are great for people needing more support than traditional outpatient care. However, they may not be enough for those who need intensive medical and psychological care.

Other disadvantages include:

  • The reduced level of care can make it difficult for some people to stay on track with their treatment 
  • It can be challenging for some people to adhere to the structure and schedule of a PHP 
  • It may require commitment from family or friends who can't make time
  • The cost can be high if insurance doesn't cover any or part of the treatment

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Who Should Enroll in a Partial Hospitalization Program?

Partial hospitalization programs help people who need more than outpatient care but don't require inpatient services. It could be the perfect solution if you need intensive treatment but can still go home every night and/or weekend.

PHPs are also great for those needing structure, support, and guidance during treatment. Remember that PHPs aren’t meant to replace inpatient programs. Instead, they’re intended to provide additional support during and after treatment.

The people who benefit the most from partial hospitalization programs typically:

  • Require medical care and supervision
  • Need more support than less intensive outpatient programs offers
  • Have stable housing and a reliable support system at home
  • Are people who need intensive care but have worries about the time commitment or cost
  • Are people who have completed an inpatient program and need to continue their treatment

Getting a formal evaluation from a professional is the best way to know if you’re suitable for PHP programs. 

What are the Requirements for People in a PHP?

People admitted to a partial hospitalization program are required to attend treatment at least 20 hours a week. They must also adhere to the schedule and rules of the program.

In addition, PHPs are designed for people who can commit to attending treatment for at least four weeks. You must understand this commitment before enrolling in PHP. Those frequently absent from sessions may be requested to leave the program.

If someone needs more intensive treatment, they may opt for inpatient treatment programs. These will provide 24/7 care for those who need it. 

Cost and Payment

A partial hospitalization program typically costs less than an inpatient program, averaging between $300 and $450 per day before insurance.

You won't have to pay for room and board. But PHP can cost more than traditional outpatient programs because of the additional services.

The cost of a PHP depends on several factors, including:

  • Location
  • Services and amenities
  • Length of stay
  • Level of care
  • Insurance coverage

Does Insurance Cover Partial Hospitalization?

Many insurances cover all or several of the treatments. They reduce the out-of-pocket cost significantly.

According to the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must include substance abuse treatment. This includes mental health and addiction services, including partial hospitalization programs.

Check with your insurance provider and the treatment facility to determine the program's actual cost. Treatment centers may also offer financial aid and payment options for anyone in need.

How to Find a Good Partial Hospitalization Program

Finding a treatment center can seem overwhelming. But it’s a necessary step on the road to recovery.

To make sure you find the best treatment option, you’ll need to perform some research.

Here are some questions you should ask to ensure the program is a good fit for you:

  • What types of addictions do they treat?
  • Are they prepared to treat co-occurring disorders if necessary?
  • What therapies do they use?
  • What are their patient policies?
  • Do they provide case management and comprehensive aftercare?
  • Do they accept your insurance?
  • What are the payment options?

Anyone suffering from a substance use disorder deserves a chance to recover. 

Transitional Housing after PHP

After PHP, some people may need a supportive and drug-free environment before transitioning back into everyday life. This is where transitional housing comes in.

Transitional housing provides houses and apartments for individuals transitioning from PHP programs or inpatient treatment centers. It allows you to live in a structured environment while still having access to mental health professionals and other services.

So if you have commitments outside treatment, you can easily attend to them and still receive support from your treatment team.

It's recommended to stay in transitional housing for at least 90 days. This gives you enough time to transition back into your everyday life and avoid relapse.

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Updated on April 3, 2024
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Updated on April 3, 2024

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