The Differences between IOP and PHP

Deciding on the right addiction treatment for you or a loved one can be stressful and difficult, especially if you have responsibilities at home that you can’t step away from. There are a lot of options out there that can accommodate your specific situation; you just have to know what you’re looking for.

Both partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) could be good options for you, depending on your situation. But what are these programs, and how are they different?

Read on to learn more about:

  • The differences between PHPs and IOPs.
  • An in-depth look at each.
  • How Recovery First’s PHP and IOP programs can benefit you.

PHP vs. IOP: Similarities and Differences

a php or iop therepy session in progressWhat are the similarities and differences between partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs?

Both are outpatient, meaning they are programs where you do not live at the facility during the duration of treatment. Sometimes this type of treatment is referred to as “day treatment”. Either the program is near your home and you return there after your day of treatment, or you head back to a sober living facility or another place of residence in the vicinity.

Often, patients will transition from an inpatient or residential program to one of these programs: PHPs and IOPs are considered good options for step-down treatment from full inpatient treatment.

Services you may find in PHPs and IOPs include:1,2

  • Therapy, both in a group setting and one-on-one.
  • Meetings your family can attend.
  • Medical services (generally more extensive in PHPs than IOPs).
  • Treatment of mental health disorders, as well as substance use disorders.
  • Drug screenings, often at the beginning of the program and randomly throughout.

A key practice in both PHPs and IOPs is the use of therapy, both in groups and one-on-one with a therapist. There are several evidence-based approaches to therapies that these programs can employ, including:3, 4

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as talk therapy. The main goal of CBT is to teach people how their thinking may be self-destructive and how it can impact their behavior in a negative way—for example, through substance abuse.
  • Contingency management, which sees patients receive rewards for meeting certain milestones.
  • 12-step therapy, modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.
  • Motivational interviewing, an approach often only used in one-on-one counseling sessions.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) states that PHPs should administer a minimum of 20 hours of programming per week. For IOPs, they recommend a minimum 9 hours a week.1

The amount of time spent in these programs is the key difference between them. PHPs are also more likely to offer medical and psychiatric services than IOPs, but these services are not exclusive to PHPs.

Partial Hospitalization Programs

In a partial hospitalization program, also sometimes known as day treatment, you’ll find the rigor and accountability of an inpatient program but with the freedom to go home at the end of the day. Because PHPs are hospital-based, you’ll find the medical resources you need during rehabilitation—including mental health help, if necessary. Many PHP programs are 5 days a week, 4 to 6 hours a day.5

You may find that a PHP is a good fit for you based on your:2

  • Ability to avoid substances outside of treatment.
  • Recovery requiring a moderate to high level of care.
  • Desire to continue treatment after completing an inpatient program.
  • Difficulty encouraging yourself to progress in treatment without additional support.
  • Diagnosis of a co-occurring disorder.
  • Lack of progress in an intensive outpatient program.

What is an IOP?

Intensive outpatient programs may require less time for treatment per day and/or week. Although you can expect similar time in treatment to a PHP at the beginning of your IOP program, this could taper down to 1- to 2-hour sessions 3 to 5 times a week, depending on your specific needs.6

One of the hallmarks of an IOP is relapse prevention. Often, counselors and therapists will teach relapse prevention skills, including tips to manage cravings and triggers, during both group and one-on-one therapy.7

Which One is Right for You?

Every person who chooses to go to addiction treatment will have a different journey: There is no one way to complete treatment successfully. Quality partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs will offer evidence-based rehab treatment that focuses on therapy. But which should you choose?

Apart from what is discussed above, you should also consider a few other things when making your choice, such as:

  • Cost.
  • Distance to treatment, and whether you’ll need to find a sober living facility nearby.
  • Whether you feel comfortable or able to avoid substances outside of treatment. If not, you may need to look into residential treatment.

What to Look for in Quality PHPs & IOPs

Your recovery should be just as important to the facility that is providing treatment as it is to you. With that in mind, consider the following when looking in to either PHP or IOP programs:

  • Accreditations and certifications. There are independent bodies, such as the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and The Joint Commission.
  • Programs offered. Is the facility heavily invested in the 12-Step programs? Are there holistic options? Make sure that the program offers an approach that is important to you.
  • High staff-to-patient ratio. This is one place you don’t want to get lost in the crowd. Having enough nurses, doctors, therapists, and staff means that your recovery needs are more likely to be met.
  • Online reviews. Although you’ll need to take these with a grain of salt, they can provide unique insight into whether you feel like you could be successful in the program.

Recovery First Offers both a PHP and IOP

Those in Florida looking for a partial hospitalization program or an intensive outpatient program are in luck. Recovery First offers both types of evidence-based programs at its Hollywood, Florida facility.

PHP services are conducted Monday through Friday from 9:30am to 4:30pm. The facility can accept out-of-town patients, provided they have lodging set up with an accredited sober living facility, as well as local patients.

For those interested in the IOP program, programming is available from 9:30am to 12:30pm from Monday to Friday for 5 days/week or 3 days/week tracks.

Recovery First also offers inpatient treatment in Florida as well. Call us at to learn more.


  1. Miller, S. C., Fiellin, D. A., Rosenthal, R. N., & Saitz, R. (2019). The ASAM Principles of Addiction Medicine, Sixth Edition. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2010). Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Substance Use Disorders: Second Edition.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide: Behavioral Therapies.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide: Treatment Settings.
  6. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Substance abuse: Clinical issues in intensive outpatient treatment (Treatment Improvement Protocol No. 47). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
  7. McCarty, D., Braude, L., Lyman, D. R., Dougherty, R. H., Daniels, A. S., Ghose, S. S., & Delphin-Rittmon, M. E. (2014). Substance abuse intensive outpatient programs: Assessing the evidencePsychiatric Services65(6), 718-726.


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