Partial Hospitalization Programs for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) for drug and alcohol addiction are intensive and highly-structured outpatient rehabs. Patients receive at least 20 hours of treatment per week and then return home during non-treatment hours.1 They may be beneficial for individuals who need the intensiveness of an inpatient program but the flexibility of an outpatient program.

What are Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) for Substance Abuse?

Partial hospitalization programs for substance abuse are the most intensive setting for outpatient addiction care. Individuals live at home while attending counseling for at least 20 hours per week, typically spread out over five days per week, though some programs meet every day. PHPs are typically recommended for people who require a higher level of care than standard outpatient care, which may consist of just a few hours of therapy per week.

Partial hospitalization programs are also commonly referred to as day treatment programs and consist of services like therapy, medical care, and medication management. If at any time a patient needs emergency medical attention, PHPs work closely with hospitals to provide that person with immediate care.

Many patients enter a PHP from the community while others may transition into a PHP after completing an inpatient drug and alcohol rehab—this form of step-down care helps to prevent relapse and to stabilize patients. Meanwhile, others may “step up” to a partial hospitalization program after initially enrolling in a standard outpatient program. This may due to a relapse or due to a high-risk situation, such as a major life change or stressor.2

PHP Services and Therapies

Partial hospitalization programs utilize a combination of evidence-based treatment methods and modalities to provide patients with comprehensive addiction treatment. These services and therapies may include:2

  • Detox: Many PHPs have a doctor onsite to provide medication to ease withdrawal symptoms. However, a person at risk of experiencing life-threatening withdrawal symptoms should enter an inpatient, hospital-based detox program to ensure their safety.
  • Individual therapy: Many different therapies may be used, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational enhancement therapy (MET), and interpersonal psychotherapy. Individual therapy can help you set goals with your therapist, learn how to recognize and cope with triggers, address underlying issues influencing your substance misuse, and learn impulse control and emotional regulation skills.
  • Group counseling: Group counseling sessions tend to focus on one particular skill or topic and can help patients learn sober social skills, receive validation from others, and role play various situations.
  • Family therapy: Family therapy can be extremely healing for the patients and families alike. This type of counseling improves communication, conflict resolution, and boundary-setting.
  • Medication management: Doctors may prescribe addiction treatment medications for opioid or alcohol addiction. These medications can reduce cravings, mitigate withdrawal symptoms, and reduce the risk of relapse.
  • Urine screening: Many PHPs may utilize random urine screening for substances of abuse to ensure everyone in the program is remaining abstinent and adhering to their treatment plan.
  • Treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders: Addiction commonly co-occurs with mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PHPs provide comprehensive psychiatric and drug addiction care to fully address both conditions.
  • Vocational training: Vocational training can help patients gain and keep employment, build their resumes, and practice job interviews.

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How Long Does a PHP Last?

The length of a partial hospitalization program varies considerably depending on the patient’s treatment plan and unique needs. There is no set length, and program length may vary from PHP to PHP as well. However, partial hospitalization programs are not intended to be ongoing so they do have a predetermined duration, although the treatment staff may change the program length accordingly.

Generally, patients attend treatment five days per week, for between four and six hours each day. Then they return home at night. For individuals who have a flexible school or work schedule, they may be able to attend a PHP with little to no disruption of their daily life.

How Much Does a PHP Cost?

While the price of a partial hospitalization program may vary, typically it’s going to cost less than an inpatient drug rehab since you aren’t residing at their facility. The cost of a PHP may also depend on factors like:

  • Duration of the program
  • Location
  • Insurance accepted
  • The extent of insurance coverage

While PHPs cost less than inpatient, they are typically going to run you more than outpatient therapy or a standard outpatient rehab, which provides fewer treatment hours and sessions.

Does Insurance Cover Partial Hospitalization Programs?

While every insurance provider and plan is going to offer different coverage, most insurance providers provide at least partial coverage for substance abuse treatment. This is because under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA), insurance companies are now required to cover addiction treatment services to the same extent that they cover other medical services.3

However, some partial hospitalization programs may accept difference insurance plans than others so it’s important to check the details of your coverage before selecting a PHP. You can call your insurance provider for more details or call our helpline at 800-926-8143Who Answers?. We can verify your insurance coverage and help you find a PHP that’s right for you.

Who is a PHP Best For?

Partial hospitalization programs are often indicated for people who need intensive addiction treatment but are likely to be able to refrain from drug and alcohol use outside of the program.2

Other people who may want to consider a PHP include those who:

  • Need more intensive care than standard outpatient or intensive outpatient
  • Have only mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms
  • Have a strong and sober support system
  • Don’t need 24/7 monitoring and supervision
  • Want to continue working or attending school
  • Have reliable transportation
  • Have stable housing

A PHP is also a good option for patients who have completed an inpatient addiction treatment program and who still have a high relapse risk. This is commonly referred to as step-down care.

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Partial Hospitalization Programs as Step-Down Care

After finishing a residential or inpatient treatment program, many patients enter a PHP to continue receiving support and services. They may not be ready to return to their everyday environment without the support of a treatment team. They may also have a high risk of relapse after leaving inpatient care. People who may be considered to have a high risk for relapse include:2

  • Those who lack intrinsic motivation for change
  • Those with a limited support system
  • Those returning to a high-risk environment
  • Those with a history of relapse after rehab
  • Those with a severe psychiatric condition

Find a Partial Hospitalization Program for Substance Addiction

If you or someone you care about is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, help is available. Call our confidential helpline at 800-926-8143Who Answers? to speak to a treatment support specialist about rehab options in your area.

Resources

1. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Substance Abuse: Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 47. DHHS Publication No. (SMA) 06-4182. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
2. American Psychiatric Association. (2010). Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Substance Use Disorders, Second Edition.
3. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).

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