What’s the Difference Between IOP and PHP?

Are you searching for an addiction treatment program that will fit your schedule? If so, it’ll be ideal to consider either an intensive outpatient program (IOP) or partial hospitalization program (PHP). These effective programs offer individuals fewer restrictions than other treatment programs and overall flexibility.

PHP and IOP programs provide access to irreplaceable psychiatric and medical support. In most cases, depending on the rehab center, either of the programs can allow you to reside at your place of residence, continue attending your job, and maintain your current schedule. Many appreciate being able to uphold their lifestyle with little to no disruptions.

Even though both IOP and PHP are substantial treatment programs, there are numerous differences between IOP and PHP programs. Today’s blog will discuss IOP vs. PHP and how these distinguishable differences greatly impact a person’s overall recovery.

The time commitment makes an IOP different from a PHP in an addiction treatment program. However, the difference of a couple of hours can convert to more differences in accountability, potential to backtrack, and support. You must decide on an addiction program that will be the most effective instead of the most convenient.

At first glance, an IOP and PHP program might appear to be replaceable part-time rehab options. Neither program involves the often overpriced requirement of living onsite at the treatment facility, allowing individuals to have more independence and freedom. Both programs give access to therapists, physicians, and medications if needed.

Ultimately, the way a person will decide between IOP vs. PHP will be through the following:

  • Whether or not you have been to rehab before
  • The severity of your addiction
  • Your budget


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How Can You Determine Which Program Is Best for You?

As this blog lays out the difference between IOP and PHP, ultimately, it’ll be up to you to decide which program is the best for you. PHP will give their patients greater access to medical staff, allowing better monitoring of the person’s condition.

A partial hospitalization program is considered an ideal choice for individuals who:

  • Faced severe episodes of overdose or addiction and had difficulties managing their cravings
  • Are still undergoing withdrawal symptoms and might need further detox services
  • Completed residential treatment but still have a greater chance of relapsing

IOP treatment is generally recommended for individuals that have experienced the acute stage of withdrawal and don’t require around-the-clock monitoring. It’s also recommended for individuals that don’t necessarily meet the diagnostic criteria for an inpatient treatment program and struggle from moderate to mild addiction. IOPs are the preferred choice for individuals striving to return to their daily routines.

Especially since patients can reside at their homes and probably have more free hours in their day. However, it’s fundamental to remain honest and realistic about your psychological and medical needs and how much freedom you can handle. Even though it’s normal and expected to want to be finished with rehab, if you don’t feel certain that you have a handle on your addiction, it would be ideal to enroll in a higher form of care such as PHP.

IOP is not recommended for those who:

  • Have difficulty arranging transportation to attend treatment sessions
  • Can be exposed to people or situations that might encourage substance use
  • Would be returning to an environment that would ultimately trigger cravings

Being able to choose between IOP vs. PHP and understanding the difference between IOP and PHP can be challenging. Various acronyms, letters, and overall jargon can be confusing and difficult to understand. Below are a few things to consider when searching for the ideal addiction treatment program.


A huge thing to consider is your financial standing. There are several ways to pay for treatment. It is required that insurance cover behavioral and mental health services because they are considered important health benefits.

It is also suggested that you find out if you qualify for Medicare or Medicaid because they cover specific services. You are not out of options if you cannot do any of the services mentioned above. Many programs offer numerous payment plans or even allow credit card payments. In addition, several loans and grants are offered by institutions, along with crowdfunding.


The most important point is service setting. This feature of the program tends to be influenced by the following factors:

  • Practical day-to-day functions such as needing to work, study, take care of family, etc
  • Which step of the recovery process they are in
  • The patient’s limitations and lifestyle

Treatment options mainly fall under two categories: outpatient and inpatient. They define whether or not the patient would have to stay in the treatment facilities continuously or intermittently. It will also determine the simplest way to sharpen the recovery model that works best for you.

However, it’s super important to remember that there’s a big difference between what will be effective vs. what is the most convenient. Individuals undergoing a severe addiction or are too much of a risk to others or themselves are often recommended residential treatment. Once residential treatment is completed, it’s common that some patients might not feel ready to go back to the real world and completely begin their lives from scratch, feeling that they might need to transition back into it instead gradually.

Some individuals might not need or qualify for inpatient treatment. Whatever the cause, outpatient treatment options such as IOP and PHP are available.

Time Commitment

There are short-term and long-term treatment options available for patients. The shortest length program that an individual will find is considered a short-term 30-day residential treatment program. These would be the programs that include therapy, and/or counseling, not just the detox process. The long-term treatment options can go from 90-200 days, depending on the severity of the patient and the service setting.

What is an IOP?

IOP stands for an intensive outpatient program. It is one of the several types of outpatient treatment available for individuals recovering from substance use. IOP provides their patients with psychological and medical assistance with a minimal time commitment that allows them to return to their normal lives, such as caring for their children or working.

In this program, patients will only need to attend rehab or the hospital of their choice for their therapy, relapse prevention skills, counseling, and any other services provided that they might choose to become a part of or be recommended to. IOP programs require a couple of short weekly visits, typically nine hours a week divided into three sessions. The number of hours and sessions are flexible depending on the following factors:

  • How the patient progresses and improves
  • The initial and original diagnosis of the patient

However, because an IOP program isn’t ongoing like it is in an inpatient program, IOPs tend to take a little longer to complete than inpatient treatment programs. Nevertheless, the circumstance mentioned above in no way alters the overall effectiveness of the IOP. Several studies have proven that IOPs could be equally successful when correctly followed and prescribed.

Aside from individual counseling and therapy, IOP treatment also contains various other methods to ensure a patient’s recovery from addiction. Group sessions and activities can be a great tool for a former individual struggling with drug use to gain support from like-minded individuals who are going through similar obstacles. They can help prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness and also assist patients in gaining a better understanding of themselves and the overall process through others’ experiences, insights, and advice.

IOP offers:

  • Relapse prevention training
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy

What is a PHP?

PHP is the abbreviation for the partial hospitalization program. This type of addiction treatment program is more intensive than IOP (intensive outpatient) but less intensive than residential rehab or full inpatient.

Compared to an IOP program, PHP requires more sessions and visits per week. This type of commitment is similar to a residential recovery program, but unlike traditional rehab, in a PHP program, the patient doesn’t reside at the treatment facility. Individuals that attend this program have the decision to choose their housing accommodations.

PHP programs usually require an average of 5 visits per week. The visits can range from 4 to 8 hours, depending on the patient’s overall needs. PHP programs can be combined with other activities besides psychiatric or medical attention to guarantee the program’s success. Patients generally seem to be at a more vulnerable stage in their lives, so every transition available to them improves their overall physical and mental health.

PHP offers:

  • Mindfulness training
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • MAT therapy
  • Arts therapy
  • Yoga

Benefits of a PHP

There are numerous benefits of a PHP program. Every individual processes substance abuse in various ways. Several factors dictate which treatment option will be best, such as:

  • Psychiartic conditions
  • Level of addiction
  • Family history
  • Lifestyle

When individuals rush to complete their addiction treatment program, it doesn’t indicate that they will complete it faster. It can reduce the individual’s treatment effectiveness instead. A partial hospitalization program is considered the ultimate next step for an individual who has just left rehab or residential treatment but doesn’t feel stable.

As an intercessor between outpatient and residential treatment, patients will still have a notable amount of support from their treatment facility but can still access the outside world. PHP programs can assist patients in adjusting better to the ultimate transition back to their daily routine. Furthermore, too much sudden freedom can be damaging to a recovering individual. A person going straight from inpatient to outpatient treatment can put that individual at a higher risk of falling back into old habits. The time commitment of a PHP program provides a vital structure that plays a crucial role in reducing the likelihood of relapse.

Choose Between IOP vs. PHP at Achieve Wellness Recovery

Different cases will require different treatment approaches. IOP and PHP treatment are both meant to help an individual who needs help adapting and adjusting to a new sober lifestyle. While the recovery journey can be challenging, it’s not impossible. Let us be the proper support for your treatment needs. Contact us to start sobriety.


  1. Blevins CE, Abrantes AM, Kurth ME, Gordon AL, Stein MD. Alcohol treatment outcomes following discharge from a partial hospital program. J Subst Use. 2017;22(6):643-647. doi:10.1080/14659891.2017.1296041
  2. McCarty D, Braude L, Lyman DR, et al. Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence. Psychiatr Serv. 2014;65(6):718-726. doi:10.1176/appi.ps.201300249
  3. T B. What Is Drug Withdrawal? Verywell Mind. Published November 7, 2022. Accessed January 2, 2023. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-withdrawal-how-long-does-it-last-63036
Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being a mother to two beautiful children.

Last medically reviewed January 2, 2023

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