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Updated on October 6, 2021

Partial Hospitalization Programs

Partial Hospitalization Program Definition

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is the most intensive level of addiction treatment available outside an inpatient or residential treatment facility. PHPs provide patients with comprehensive treatments, including counseling and medical care, if necessary. They are sometimes referred to as intensive outpatient programs (IOP).

Partial hospital programs help patients diagnosed with a:

While the name can seem intimidating, a partial hospitalization program is simply a special outpatient treatment program. It's for people who need a higher level of behavioral health care than standard outpatient programs can provide.

Partial Hospitalization Programs vs. Inpatient and Residential Programs

During inpatient and residential treatment programs, 100 percent of the program takes place at the facility. Patients eat, sleep, and undergo all treatment at the residency for the duration of their program (typically 30, 60, or 90 days).

During partial hospitalization programs, all of the treatment services take place at the facility; however, the patient returns home to sleep. Some programs provide food and transportation, but these services vary depending on the program.

Often, if a patient has completed an inpatient treatment program, but still needs intensive care, a partial hospitalization program may be the next step.

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How Long is a Partial Hospitalization Program?

The length of a partial hospitalization program depends entirely on the patient’s needs. It is an intensive, short-term treatment method that could last a couple of weeks to several months.

They are designed to help you improve enough to move to an outpatient treatment program.

What Happens in a Partial Hospitalization Program?

In a partial hospitalization program, the type, length, and intensity of treatments, as well as the medical treatment team used, depends on the needs of each client. Many factors determine a patient’s treatment plan, including the severity of their addiction, mental health treatment needs, and medical insurance coverage.

Structure

While the treatments and therapies may vary, there are five stages to the program that everyone can expect:

  1. Evaluation — The first stage is evaluation. Patients will undergo an interview, medical examination, and urine test. These results provide the foundation of the treatment plan.
  2. Detoxification — The next step is detox. The patient’s body must adjust to functioning without drugs or alcohol. This can be a challenging stage because withdrawal symptoms are the worst during this time. Medical care may be necessary.
  3. Psychological and Medical Treatment — Once a patient has gone through detox, they will begin therapy and any other medical treatments necessary for their recovery. They will learn skills techniques and to prevent relapse, discover valuable resources, and build a community of people committed to helping each other live healthy, sober lives.
  4. Transition — Once a patient has the knowledge and tools to start practicing their new behaviors and coping skills, the intensity of treatments will be scaled down. They may reduce the number of days, or hours in the day, spent at their facility to focus on transitioning to a sober life.
  5. Maintenance — Aftercare is an essential part of a partial hospitalization program. There are many groups (Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, and other peer support systems) that are here to provide consistent maintenance, continuous skill building and practicing, along with support and care throughout an individual’s sober life.

Services

The most common services that partial hospitalization programs use include:

  • Behavioral Therapies — Individual counseling (psychotherapy), group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), contingency management, and person-centered counseling with mental health professionals are frequently employed.
  • Case Management — Most programs will assign a case manager to coordinate an individual’s treatment program.
  • Relapse Prevention Planning Counselors or therapists will help patients come up with a relapse prevention plan that identifies their triggers, lists warning signs of a potential relapse, and details alternative courses of action.
  • Holistic TherapiesYoga, art therapy, animal therapy, and other effective holistic wellness treatments often prove useful for recovery.
  • Fitness and Nutrition — A patient’s body will undergo significant changes during detox and recovery. Nutritionists and fitness coaches can help people adjust.
  • Medication Management — Certain patients may already be prescribed medication or need medication-assisted therapy from a licensed psychiatry provider.
  • Vocational Skill Groups — Some facilities may offer short term skill development programs to help patients prepare for the job force.
  • Outside Recovery Support Groups — 12-step programs, peer counseling, and nonprofit organizations can provide supplemental care and treatment.
  • Aftercare Planning — Part of case management, aftercare planning ensures that each patient is set up to succeed and, if necessary, continue treatment after they complete the program.

Benefits of Partial Hospitalization Programs

A main benefit of PHP programs is the ability for patients to spend their evenings and weekends at home. There are several additional benefits of partial hospitalization, including:

  • Consistent access to medical and behavioral health specialists (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists, etc.)
  • More cost-effective than inpatient care
  • Your insurance may cover more sessions, so you'll receive care for a longer period of time
  • Provides a slow and safe transition from inpatient care to real life
  • PHP allows patients to practice skills they learn in treatment in the real world
  • The flexible scheduling allows patients to remain employed, in school, or take care of family responsibilities
  • PHPs are filled with many specialists and experts, which allows them to conduct highly effective education classes

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Who Should Enroll in a Partial Hospitalization Program?

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

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

Cost and Payment

A partial hospitalization program will typically cost less than an inpatient program because you will not have to pay for room and board. They do cost more than traditional outpatient programs because of the additional services they provide.

The cost of a PHP will depend on several factors, including:

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

The average PHP will cost between $300 and $450 per day before insurance. However, many insurances will cover all or several of the treatments and reduce the out-of-pocket cost significantly.

Check with your insurance provider and the treatment facility to find out what the actual cost of the program will be. 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 like an overwhelming task. But it’s a necessary step on the road to recovery. In order to make sure you find the best treatment option, you’ll need to perform some research.

Here are some questions that you should ask to make sure 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 types of 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 who is suffering from a substance use disorder deserves a chance to recover. We are committed to helping people find the right treatment option for themselves or their loved ones. If you have any questions, reach out to a health care specialist today.

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Resources

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Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2006. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45.) Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64115/

NIDA. "Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 14 Jan. 2014, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment-research-based-guide.

NIDA. "Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction." National Institute on Drug Abuse, 17 Jan. 2019, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction.

“Definition of partial hospitalization. The National Association of Private Psychiatric Hospitals and the American Association for Partial Hospitalization.” The Psychiatric hospital vol. 21,2 (1990): 89-90. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10106610/

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