PHP vs IOP: What’s the Difference?

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

December 1, 2022

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When struggling with a substance abuse problem, it’s critical to seek out the best drug rehab care for your circumstances. Everyone is different, so you need to ensure you find the right program for your condition. It can be difficult to know what level of care you need, especially as there are several types of treatment programs available in reputable addiction treatment facilities, each of which is aimed at a different stage and severity of addiction. Two of the most common are the intensive outpatient program (IOP) and partial hospitalization program (PHP). You may be wondering what the difference between PHP vs. IOP is, so let’s take a closer look at each program.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with a substance use problem, the addiction specialists at Renaissance Recovery can help. Reach out to us online today or call today to speak to a member of our intake team.

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We will break down the specifics for both PHP and IOP treatment options in the next sections but first let’s just contrast the two breifly. To begin, PHPs are a more intensive form of treatment in which a client can get help with addiction treatment while in a hospital setting. Whereas, intensive outpatient programs are often used as a follow-up to a PHP or residential program. In general, think of a PHP treatment option as a higher level of care vs an intensive outpatient program.

Let’s further dissect these options, though.

Intensive Outpatient Program

An intensive outpatient program or “IOP” is an excellent alternative or follow-up to a residential program. It gives you just about the same level of care as an inpatient program but allows you to return to your own home or a sober-living facility at night. This is especially helpful for those who have families or other responsibilities at their home. It is even flexible enough with virtual IOP in many cases to allow someone to continue working a job or is taking classes.

Even though in an intensive outpatient program, you will be able to go home each day, you still will participate in several hours of therapy per week. You will have a structured setting filled with many therapy sessions that vary, including such modules as:

These programs will accelerate your healing during rehab and provide you with the tools you need for genuine, lasting recovery. You will work closely with licensed professionals as you work towards positive mental and physical health outcomes.

In addition, at an IOP, you’ll have the opportunity to develop a strong support system, both in and outside of the facility. This facilitates a thorough recovery and helps prevent relapse.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

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If you need help finding a PHP or IOP reach out to our team today.

If you are wondering “does partial hospitalization work“, understand that it is partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a more intense level of care than an IOP. It often precedes the IOP level in the sense that patients who have graduated from a PHP program often opt to continue their recovery in an IOP program. Like an IOP, a PHP offers several hours of intense therapy sessions each day. You will almost feel like a PHP is your second home. However, you will be able to spend the night in your own home. A PHP provides a higher level of oversight and accountability than an IOP, and for this reason, it most often follows medically supervised detox and residential addiction treatment.

During the program, you will learn the strategies you need to be successful in the world. You may come to the PHP therapy for five or six days a week, or your therapist may recommend coming every day. The length of a patient’s stay in a PHP varies depending on what their medical team recommends. Some programs last for 30 days, while others last 60  or 90 days.

The Difference Between PHP and IOP

The primary difference between a PHP and an IOP is the amount of time commitment required. Most PHPs offer 5 to 6 hours of therapy on 3 to 5 weekdays. Most IOPs, by contrast, offer 3 to 4 hours of therapy on 3 to 5 weekdays. You can consider a PHP as a full-time outpatient program, while an IOP is a part-time program.

Due to the time commitment, you will have more time for individual therapy if you engage with a PHP than an IOP. With intensive outpatient programs, much of the counseling and therapy is delivered in a group setting.

You can also expect a higher level of supervision and monitoring of symptoms and medications if you enroll on a PHP.

PHPs also tend to offer more psychological and behavioral interventions. In addition to psychotherapy like CBT and DBT, PHPs also often provide access to motivational interviewing and contingency management, especially useful for the management of stimulant use disorders.

IOPs are intended for those who do not require inpatient treatment and those manifesting mild to moderate symptoms of alcohol use disorder or substance use disorder. PHPs are typically more suitable for those with more severe symptoms, or for those stepping down from residential rehab to a less intensive level of care.

The difference between IOPs and PHPs, then, is subtle but crucial. Choosing the most appropriate treatment program will hinge on many variables, including:

  • Previous attempts at treatment
  • Insurance coverage
  • Home environment
  • Severity of substance use disorder
  • Any co-occurring mental health disorders
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IOP or PHP at Renaissance Recovery

When considering a drug rehab facility for addiction, it’s essential to find a program that suits your particular needs. Our trained professionals will assess your situation and recommend a program — whether residential, PHP, IOP, or another level of care — that is best for you. At Renaissance Recovery, our compassionate therapists will ensure you don’t have to go through this alone.

Our treatment program in Orange County can guide you through the addiction treatment process and will equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to fight back against addiction. Whether that is detox, relapse prevention, sober living, or post-treatment guidance, we got your back!

Don’t let substance abuse take away your hope in life. Contact us today at 866.330.9449 to begin the admissions process.



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.

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.

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