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Posted: September 30, 2020
Updated: February 11, 2021

Partial hospitalization programs (PHP), aka day programs, are less-intense alternatives to inpatient programs.

The patients spend the day inside the rehab facility or sober living homes. After they finish the required hours, they can return home, go to work, meet friends, and do anything just like normal people. 

How does it work? Is it effective? That’s what we’ll answer in this article.

Partial Hospitalization Programs: Are They Effective?

Partial hospitalization (PHP) is a type of outpatient addiction care. It provides a highly structured treatment plan. Each plan is tailored to meet unique individual needs. 

Treatment is more intense than that you receive at a therapist’s office. However, it is less intense than inpatient rehab. 

PHP does not require you to stay at the treatment center. You have to visit the facility five to seven days a week during the day. Each visit lasts several hours, sometimes, eight hours. The entire treatment takes about ten days to complete. 

PHP can be the best choice for those who have:

  • Recently developed an addiction
  • Mild to moderate addiction
  • Completed treatment at an inpatient facility 
  • Strong family and professional commitments that do not allow an overnight stay at a facility

PHP offers a range of services, such as:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Education
  • Rehabilitation therapies
  • Art and music therapy

Should You Opt for a Partial Hospitalization Program?

Answering this question is a bit tricky. See, with addiction treatment, finding inclusive answers that work for everyone is virtually impossible. It all boils down to the severity of your condition, withdrawal symptoms, the abused substance, etc. 

Ideally, you shouldn’t make this decision yourself. Instead, the medical staff will decide the best treatment course for you based on the following factors:

Previous Treatment

PHPs are essentially designed to be a step-down from inpatient programs. After finishing your residential inpatient stay, doctors might think you still need supervision. In this case, they’ll admit you into a PHP program that allows you to live normally while continuing your treatment. 

By extension, PHPs can be planned as a step-up from outpatient programs. Your medical team may suggest this if they think that your condition requires prolonged monitoring — which is something that outpatient treatment can’t provide.


Since inpatient programs mandate 24-hour stay in a facility, they often lie on the expensive side. And because most insurance programs don’t cover this type of treatment, people often resort to PHPs as cheaper alternatives. 

Schedule Flexibility

Although inpatient programs are more effective, they’re usually criticized for their lack of flexibility. PHPs, on the other hand, allow patients to take care of their families and go back to their jobs while recovering.

Who Shouldn’t Choose Partial Hospitalization Programs? 

Despite their valuable benefits, PHPs may not be enough in some situations. 

For instance, if the family isn’t encouraging enough, patients should stay in a facility where they can receive constant help and sufficient monitoring. This also applies if the patient encountered incidences of abuse inside the house, either from a family member or from a stranger. 

Patients who have co-occurring disorders would be better off with inpatient treatment. If you’re unfamiliar, these conditions have a complicated nature that combines mental diseases with substance abuse. Treating such conditions is extremely tricky since both causes should be addressed simultaneously. 

If you have a history of recent relapse, PHPs might be a bit risky. It’s better to choose full inpatient programs where you can be in better control of yourself. 

What’s Included In Partial Hospitalization Programs?

The offered activities considerably vary between different facilities. But generally speaking, PHPs offer everything that inpatient treatment provides, but within fewer hours. 

The Final Word

When implemented after inpatient programs, PHPs will guarantee full recovery with less probability of relapse. 

In mild cases, PHPs can replace inpatient programs. However, we advise against taking this decision yourself. Reach out to the medical team of your rehab facility; they’ll tell you about your ideal treatment course.