Partial Hospitalization, Day Treatment - What is the Difference?

If you or a loved one is in need of substance abuse treatment, it’s important to know about partial hospitalization (PHP) and day treatment. These programs represent a compromise between outpatient treatment and inpatient rehab.

What you can expect from a PHP or day program:

  • Medically Managed Detox
  • Individual Therapy
  • Group Therapy
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment
  • Classes
  • Learning about Triggers
  • Relapse Prevention
  • Education
  • Introduction to the Twelve Step Model
  • A Community of Other Recovering People

Learning about the science behind the disease of addiction will help one come to terms with the illness of substance abuse. It is also helpful to do some therapeutically driven soul-searching to understand how substance abuse started. These are just a few of the components you can expect from partial hospitalization or day treatment.

Addiction treatment happens on a continuum of care. Because addiction is a complex disease, there are many different methods available to treat it. Addiction is also a dangerous disease, and professional advice is recommended in choosing a method of treatment.

If you or a loved one is in need of substance abuse treatment, it’s important to know about partial hospitalization (PHP) and day treatment. These programs represent a compromise between outpatient treatment and inpatient rehab. Many find that attending a PHP or day program is the ideal solution to the dilemma of how to proceed with addiction treatment. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between the two.

Partial Hospitalization Programs – Don’t Let the Name Scare You

While most partial hospitalization programs do take place in a hospital (hence the name), there is no actual inpatient hospitalization involved.

A PHP is actually an extra-intensive outpatient substance abuse program that allows participants to return home every night, or stay in a sober living environment, while receiving treatment. In other words, those who choose a partial hospitalization program do not live or stay at the facility. Instead, they attend treatment for up to six hours a day, five to seven days a week, and leave the hospital once the day is over. Partial hospitalization can last anywhere from a few weeks to three months.

PHP offers a higher level of care than the typical outpatient program or even IOP (intensive outpatient). Those in partial hospitalization treatment receive comprehensive services that include continuous medical monitoring by a team of physicians, nurses, and addiction experts to oversee medications and treat physical or mental complications resulting from prolonged substance abuse. Those whose mental, behavioral, or physical needs do not require inpatient treatment can attend partial hospitalization programs.

A PHP is for those who need extensive structure and support, but do not require 24/7 supervision or medical assistance. While many people start their recovery journey with partial hospitalization, others attend a PHP after they have completed a 30- to 90-day stay at a residential rehab or inpatient treatment facility.

Day Treatment Is Less Intensive Than Partial Hospitalization

Day programs work in much the same way as partial hospitalization. They are considered outpatient programs; again, those receiving treatment return home every night. The only notable differences are: a day program requires less of a time commitment than PHP, and day treatment is usually held in a residential or office setting rather than in a hospital. Someone in a day program might feel like they are at home.

Generally, day programs run less than six hours a day, three to five times a week. Like PHPs, they can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Day treatment programs are also run by qualified addiction experts and medical professionals.

What You Can Expect from a PHP or Day Program

Partial hospitalization and day programs offer very similar approaches to addiction treatment. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Medically Managed Detox Services – A medical detox aids the process of withdrawal to ensure that detoxification is safe and comfortable. It involves the use of certain medications and round-the-clock monitoring and evaluation by a medical professional.
  • Individual Therapy – Attending one-on-one counseling with a psychologist or licensed counselor is crucial to the recovery process. Those who are being treated for addiction will likely undergo Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on transforming negative thought patterns that lead to self-destructive behaviors.
  • Group Therapy – According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “many therapeutic settings use group therapy to capitalize on the social reinforcement offered by peer discussion and to help promote drug-free lifestyles.” Group therapy is usually facilitated by a licensed substance abuse counselor or psychologist. Clients learn from one another as well as from the group leader, and develop peer support skills and friendships that will support their recovery going forward.
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment – When someone has both an addiction to drugs or alcohol and another mental health diagnosis, they have what is called a dual-diagnosis. Those with dual-diagnoses require specialized care.
  • Classes – Learning about the disease of addiction is critical to understanding how it manifests itself. Educational sessions are offered to provide insight into the science behind addiction.
  • Learning about Triggers – Triggers are things that motivate people to want to use drugs or drink alcohol. Identifying triggers and learning ways to manage them are important aspects of maintaining abstinence.
  • Relapse Prevention Education – Staying abstinent from drugs or alcohol requires a great deal of commitment, dedication, self-discipline, and hard work. It also requires the implementation of relapse prevention strategies, which are taught during treatment.
  • Introduction to the Twelve Step Model – Twelve Step recovery is the cornerstone of most addiction treatment programs. Learning about the Twelve Steps and understanding how they work is usually an integral part of the treatment process.
  • A Community of Other Recovering People – Recovery involves interacting with other recovering people and undergoing the treatment process together.


Finding a Partial Hospitalization Program or Day Program Near You

If you or your loved one is ready to take the brave step to seek treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction, GET HELP is here to support you. We provide addiction treatment locator services to those who need help for a substance abuse problem. We provide access to more than 20,000 treatment centers nationwide.

GET HELP’s search tool is the easiest way for anyone, anywhere to find addiction treatment fast.  You can download our free app or call us at 323-GET-HELP.

Share this Story:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on skype
Share on whatsapp

Want more? Download the App


Connected Resources

Help better, together. By uniting those serving our communities, GET HELP® expands the access of social services to improve the lives of millions. We believe that anyone, anywhere should get the help they need, when they need it, quickly, efficiently, and with integrity and respect.


Search for Services

When time is of the essence, all you need to do is open up the app and click the service you are looking for. Within seconds, we’ll search our database of over 20,000 facilities and show you what is available near you. Logged out? Not a problem, you can still search.

Location Based

Using your current location, we are able to filter services within a 10 mile radius of where you are. You can change the search location at any time.


Vetted Services

Many of our services come directly from local authorities, and our team diligently verifies these services before publishing them. In addition, we’ve ensured the data collected is from verified, nationally recognized sources. So you can always trust that the facilities and services listed are accurate. Let’s harness the connective power of technology to build a better world. Connected, we can!

Share this:

Like this:

Like Loading...
%d bloggers like this: