Close this search box.

Partial Hospitalization: Day in the Life

picture of Joe Gilmore
Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

January 18, 2024

Table of Contents

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is also known as a day program. PHPs offer intensive outpatient treatment for clients suffering from addiction to drink or drugs.

two people talking at a desk

Treatment in partial hospitalization programs is delivered over five days of the week, typically for around 6 hours each day. After treatment, clients return home, or to a sober living home if appropriate.

heart icon that is 2 hands holding

Need help getting addiction treatment?

Flexibility is one of the defining characteristics of partial hospitalization programs.

With these programs, you’ll have access to a range of services from group and individual therapy through to medical and mental health services as required.

When Is Partial Hospitalization Necessary?

Partial hospitalization programs don’t make the right fit for everyone. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have problems functioning at work or school?
  • Is your home environment stable and supportive?
  • Are you medically stable?
  • Do you feel confident that you won’t cause harm, either to yourself or others?
  • Are you motivated to engage with treatment for your addiction?
  • Do you have a co-occurring mental health disorder?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, there’s every chance a PHP might be viable on the continuum of care, whether you’re stepping up or down in intensity of treatment.

What is the Step-Down Approach?

The step-up or step-down approach is a psychological construct of transitioning between treatment programs of varying levels of intensity. Maybe you started out with residential rehab and you’re stepping down in the continuum of care to an outpatient program. Or, you could be entering partial hospitalization rehab as a step up from an intensive outpatient program. For others seeking gender-specific treatment, there’s the option of women’s partial hospitalization, whether stepping up or down. 

While partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment programs are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. Despite the names, it’s the PHP that’s more intensive in nature, and a step up from an intensive outpatient program.

If you are at the point of considering moving down the continuum of care from a PHP to a less intensive form of treatment, several factors need taking into account.

  • Have you achieved the goals laid out at the beginning of your PHP?
  • How has your overall progress been on the program?
  • Are you managing your life at home and/or work?
  • Do you still feel motivated to stay sober?

PHPs are by definition time-limited. The overarching goal is to help you suitably step down. There is no fixed timeline for this, though. As with all aspects of your recovery, you should view it as a process rather than a time-limited event.

What Happens with PHPs?

A successful PHP will address four core areas: 

  • Your home: For a PHP to work, you’ll need a safe and stable home environment, ideally with plenty of support and no triggers. If this does not apply to your living circumstances, you could consider residing at a sober living home while you undergo a PHP.
  • Your health: Your health is fundamental to staying sober. This includes your mental health, and a PHP will address any underlying mental health conditions you have occurring alongside your addiction. The program will also help you to develop healthier habits.
  • Your purpose: On a PHP, you’ll be encouraged to ensure you have a consistent income so you can remain stable as you leave drink or drugs behind.
  • Your community: As you undergo treatment on a PHP, you’ll be encouraged to build the supportive network you need from friends, family, and outside support groups like 12-step programs.

As you engage with treatment on a partial hospitalization program, you’ll explore the possibility of relapse. It is now generally recognized the addiction is a progressive and relapsing disease. Relapse does not need to signify failure. Rather, it indicates that the approach to treatment delivery needs tweaking. Formulating a workable relapse plan will be one of many things you work on during counseling and therapy sessions.

A PHP can last anywhere from one week to six months.

A Typical Day in a PHP

Since everyone has different needs, everyone at Renaissance has the chance to follow PHPs personalized to meet those needs.

Partial hospitalization programs meet between 9am and 3am. This gives you plenty of scope to take care of the rest of your life laundry outside of these hours.

A typical day could include any or all of the following:

  • Family counseling
  • Experiential therapies
  • Behavioral therapies
  • Group sessions
  • Adventure-based programs
  • Holistic therapy
  • Vocational development
  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling

On your first visit, you’ll undergo a thorough assessment. You can expect to field questions related to your substance abuse history as well as when you last used drink or drugs. Accompanied by the results of any physical tests as appropriate, you’ll be assessed on whether your symptoms of addiction are mild, moderate, or severe. 

With all of the above factors taken into account, it will become apparent whether or not you make a good fit for a partial hospitalization program. As outlined above, not everyone does.

After detox, you’ll benefit from individual counseling so you can double down on the extent of your addiction. During a typical day at PHP, you’ll also participate in group meetings, as well as any other therapeutic activities that form part of your program.

person relaxing on the couch overlooking the city

Once you’ve completed a partial hospitalization program, you should be equipped with the sober living skills you need to thrive in your sobriety without structured outside support like that which a PHP delivers.

PHP Rehab in OC at Renaissance Recovery

If you feel a partial hospitalization program sounds like it could help you to leave drink or drugs behind you, you’re in safe hands here at Renaissance Recovery Center.

Get things started today by calling our admissions team at 866.330.9449.866.330.9449



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

Close this search box.

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

Text a Recovery Expert

Text our team to get the help you need ASAP.

Use Our 24 Hour text line. You can ask questions about our program, the admissions process, and more.