Are Partial Hospitalization Programs Effective?

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

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Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

If you’re ready to stop abusing alcohol or drugs, you may be confused by the many different types of treatment available, and perhaps you are wondering “Are partial hospitalization programs effective?”

Anyone seeking treatment for addiction or mental health conditions has two options:

  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment

A partial hospitalization program, commonly abbreviated to PHP, is a form of outpatient treatment.

With a PHP, you take part in scheduled sessions for a few hours on weekdays. You return home at night, or to a sober living home if your home environment is not stable and supportive enough for the purposes of your recovery.

Partial hospitalization programs are a step down the continuum of care from inpatient rehab. PHPs can also prevent the need for residential rehab by treating an addiction before it becomes more severe.    

What can you expect to gain from pursuing treatment in this setting, then?

Benefits of a PHP

Residential rehab is expensive. If you’re exploring financial options like insurance for rehab, not all providers will meet the cost of inpatient treatment. Most policies, though, will provide coverage for PHPs. Without the cost of food and accommodation to consider, these programs are much cheaper.

Many people find stepping down the continuum of care from residential rehab for alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder to a PHP is beneficial. PHPs nestle between inpatient programs and intensive outpatient programs. Stepping down to a PHP can help you seamlessly move from inpatient to outpatient treatment, especially valuable if you have a co-occurring mental health disorder.

Day programs work especially well for consolidating the progress made during short-stay 30-day residential programs. These programs are proven effective, but some people find them too short. With a PHP, you can build on what you learned in residential rehab while still benefiting from the structure and support a day program provides.

Partial hospitalization programs give you close medical monitoring and accountability without the cost or the rigidity of residential rehab.

What can you expect if you engage with a PHP, then?

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What Does a Partial Hospitalization Program Involve?

One of the chief advantages of a PHP is the close medical monitoring you’ll enjoy throughout the program.

MAT and Psychotherapies

If you need MAT (medication-assisted treatment), several FDA-approved medications can be used to treat both alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder. These medications can help soothe withdrawal symptoms while also alleviating cravings for drink or drugs.

As well as enjoying access to MAT if appropriate, PHPs typically offer a range of psychotherapies like DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) or CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).

CBT sessions will help you to identify the negative patterns of thinking that trigger poor behaviors like abusing drugs or alcohol. You’ll also learn healthy coping strategies so you can navigate life’s stressors and avoid relapsing.

DBT is a specific form of CBT that will help you to regulate your emotions and sharpen your coping skills more effectively.

In the event of any co-occurring mental health condition, focused dual-diagnosis treatment will address both issues head-on.

Individual Counseling Sessions

One-to-one sessions give you a chance to dive deep into the issues surrounding your abuse of alcohol or drugs.

You’ll benefit from individualized input from your counselor. You’ll work closely together setting and tracking goals to keep you motivated during the vital early stages of recovery.

Group Counseling Sessions

Although group sessions don’t give you the same personalized attention as individual counseling, you’ll be surrounded by peers going through the same broad experience of recovery. This can be a valuable source of insight and inspiration.

Beyond this, you can expect access to a variety of holistic therapies and education services when you engage with a PHP.

What’s the difference between a partial hospitalization program and an intensive outpatient program, then?


Despite the name, an intensive outpatient program is not as demanding in terms of time commitment as a PHP.

With an IOP, you may attend sessions for two or three hours on three days of the week. With a PHP, by contrast, you often attend sessions for four to six hours every weekday.

Aside from this difference in commitment, the two types of treatment are otherwise similar.

Are partial hospitalization programs effective, actually?

Are Partial Hospitalization Programs Effective?

There is a robust body of evidence to indicate that acute partial hospitalization can be equally as effective as inpatient treatment for the treatment of addictions.

PHP efficacy is highest among those transitioning gradually from medical detox or residential rehab back into daily living in the community. PHPs can also be beneficial for those requiring more support and structure than a standard outpatient program or IOP, but with symptoms not severe enough to warrant inpatient care.

Partial hospitalization programs effectiveness hinges largely on having a home environment that is conducive to your recovery, or the willingness to relocate to a sober living home for the duration of treatment.

When Is a Partial Hospitalization Program a Good Idea?

PHPs make a good fit if the following criteria are satisfied:

  • Your home environment is strong and stable
  • You’re medically stable
  • You are in no risk of harming yourself or anyone else
  • You have problems at home, work, or school triggered by substance abuse
  • You’re motivated to pursue treatment
  • You have a dual-diagnosis (co-occurring addiction and mental health disorder)

When Is a Partial Hospitalization Program A Bad Idea?

PHPs are inadvisable in any of the following circumstances:

  • For victims of abuse and trauma
  • For those lacking a proper support system
  • If you have previously engaged with treatment, then relapsed
  • For anyone with family members abusing substances
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Kickstart Your Recovery with a Partial Hospitalization Program

If you feel ready to commit to a partial hospitalization program for addiction to alcohol or drugs, we can help you here at Renaissance Recovery.

For anyone with a strong support system in place, our outpatient treatment will provide a structured and evidence-based approach to recovery. You’ll enjoy robust support as you transition back into regular daily living substance-free.

Get started with a PHP by calling the friendly team at 866.330.9449.

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Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country