Partial Hospitalization or Day Treatment Programs for Substance Abuse

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A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a type of outpatient treatment program that caters to addicted patients who require a higher level of care than standard outpatient care is able to provide. People in a PHP receive comprehensive treatment services and medical monitoring during the day, but they don’t stay overnight at the facility.

What Is a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)?

PHPs (sometimes referred to as day treatment programs) offer outpatient addiction treatment services, such as group counseling, individual therapy, and access to medical care, if needed.

People typically attend the recovery center 3-5 days a week for about 4-6 hours each day, while still residing at home. A PHP is a more intensive program than typical outpatient programs, which may only meet once or twice a week.

PHPs are often used as a step-down service once someone has completed an inpatient program. Partial hospitalization is best for people who do not require 24-hour supervision, but who would still benefit from a high level of support.

Partial Hospitalization Services

Partial hospitalization program group doing yoga

Before treatment services begin, the staff will conduct an intake evaluation, which they will use to develop an individualized treatment plan based on the person’s addiction and mental health condition.

People in a PHP participate in a comprehensive recovery program in which they work closely with many different treatment professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, and psychiatrists. Below are the typical services offered in day treatment:

  • Detox: Not every facility will offer medically supervised detox. But some partial hospitalization programs have physicians available to provide people with medication while they safely detox from drugs or alcohol. PHPs that offer detox generally only treat those with mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms. 2 Individuals with severe or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms may require the supervision and pharmaceutical support offered by a professional detox facility prior to enrolling in a PHP for ongoing treatment.
  • Medical services: Nurses and doctors are on staff to administer medication and treat physical complications from substance abuse.
  • Medication management: When used in conjunction with behavioral therapy or psychotherapies, medication can help to promote abstinent behaviors by decreasing cravings, blocking the rewarding effects of alcohol or certain drugs, and managing protracted withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, dysphoria, and insomnia. 1
  • Individual therapy: The person meets with a therapist or addictions counselor one-on-one to work on unhealthy behaviors and maintain abstinence.
  • Group counseling: Group counseling sessions tend to focus on one specific topic or skill and are facilitated by a certified mental health professional. Topics include educational groups, relapse prevention, stress management, coping skills, life skills, recreational activities and team building, and family education and therapy.
  • Aftercare planning: Treatment teams prepare a person for discharge by creating an aftercare plan, which consists of relapse prevention tactics, such as support groups, 12-step programs, sober living homes, or group or individual counseling.
  • Holistic treatments: Depending on the recovery facility, some PHPs may offer holistic treatment options, such as yoga, meditation, nutrition, equine therapy, fitness classes, and art and music therapy.

Further, many partial hospitalization programs are equipped to treat people with a dual diagnosis, or the presence of a substance addiction and co-occurring mental health disorder. If you or someone you love has a psychiatric condition as well as a drug or alcohol abuse problem, a day treatment program may be beneficial.

How Long Treatment Takes

The length of a partial hospitalization or day treatment program varies greatly depending on the person’s needs. Each PHP has a different approach, and every person is unique.

While enrolled in a PHP, the participant will generally attend treatment 5 days a week, for about 4 -6 hours each day, then return home in the evening. 3

Once someone completes a PHP, he or she may transition to a standard outpatient program that meets 1-2 times per week, in order to maintain sobriety and stability.

Who Should Participate in a PHP

Are You Interested in a PHP?

If you’re considering participating in a partial hospitalization program, call our helpline at 1-888-319-2606

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Some people may be more likely than others to benefit from a PHP.

In general, a PHP is best for those who:

  • Require close medical supervision.
  • Need more support than traditional outpatient programs provide.
  • Have stable housing and transportation.
  • Have a strong support system at home.
  • Have experienced problems with school or work performance.

Cost and Payment

writing a check

A PHP’s cost will vary based on the length of the program and how much your insurance company covers. Typically, a PHP costs less than a residential or inpatient treatment rehab program since you aren’t provided with room and board.

Each insurance plan is different, but it is likely that insurance will provide at least partial coverage for a PHP, since addiction treatment is now considered an essential health benefit. 4 This means that insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, must cover substance abuse treatment programs to the same degree that they cover other medical conditions. That said, some treatment facilities don’t accept Medicare and Medicaid, so do your research when searching for a PHP.

Additionally, your insurance provider can’t refuse coverage if you have a pre-existing condition, such as a drug or alcohol addiction. If you don’t have insurance, you can shop on the health insurance marketplace for affordable, government-organized plans.

Financing a PHP

Paying for your recovery can seem overwhelming. But there are a variety of ways to finance your treatment if you don’t have insurance or your insurance only provides partial coverage.

Financing options include:

  • Specialized loan: Certain financial companies will offer loan packages to help people pay for healthcare costs. They tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards and health care cards.
  • Home equity loan: If you have a home to offer as collateral, you may want to consider getting a home equity loan, which has a lower interest rate than a personal loan.
  • Personal savings: You may want to think about using your personal savings instead of opening a credit card or getting a loan.
  • Health care credit card: Some credit card companies offer specialized health care cards with lower interest rates than standard credit cards.
  • Payment plan/sliding scale: Many recovery programs understand the hardship of paying for treatment and will often create an individualized payment plan based on what people can realistically afford.
  • Crowdfunding: You can create a campaign on crowdfunding websites, such as IndieGoGo, Crowdrise, and GoFundMe, in a few easy clicks and share it with friends and family to raise money for your treatment.

Find a Partial Hospitalization Program Near You

If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, help is available. Call our helpline at 1-888-319-2606 Helpline Information to speak to a treatment support specialist about finding a partial hospitalization program near you.

Learn more about outpatient recovery programs for addiction
  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.
  2. Miller, N. S., Kipnis, S. S., and Wesson, D. R. (2006). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment: A treatment improvement protocol. Rockville, MD: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Treatment Settings.
  4. The White House. Substance Abuse and the Affordable Care Act.

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