What is the Difference Between IOP and PHP

An Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) are two popular and effective treatment options for drug rehab. While both programs enable you to live at home, there are several differences between them. Learn the specific benefits and who is the best candidate for each program.

Difference Between IOP and PHP
Difference Between IOP and PHP

What is IOP?

IOP is designed for individuals who need more comprehensive care than a standard outpatient treatment center. You’re able to live at home and return to the treatment facility during the day for therapy and clinical services. This is often 3 to 5 days per week, depending on your specific needs. IOP can sometimes be offered virtually for those who live outside of San Diego, CA. 

Many intensive outpatient programs offer flexible session times throughout the day and include a combination of individual and group therapy sessions, as well as holistic and evidence-based therapies. 

During IOP, you’ll learn more about the underlying cause of your addiction, identify triggers, and learn healthy coping skills for navigating life’s challenges. One of the most significant advantages of IOPs is you’re able to immediately apply what you learn to your daily life. 

Benefits of IOP

There are many benefits of IOP which include:

  • Having the ability to maintain work or school commitments
  • Remain close to your support system (family and friends)
  • Access high-quality, effective addiction treatment services and therapies
  • Reduce out-of-pocket expenses (when compared to a residential treatment program)
  • Be held accountable for your actions

Who is a Candidate for IOP

The best candidates for IOP are individuals who have just completed a residential treatment program or PHP. Essentially, anyone transitioning from a more structured program to daily life can benefit from an IOP as it serves as a healthy middle ground – providing less structure than a PHP but more than a standard outpatient program. 

Other candidates for IOP are those who suffer from a less severe drug addiction or mental health condition – an IOP in these cases would be the most appropriate fit. 

If you’re working or have children, IOP enables you to maintain much of your daily schedule and provides some flexibility. This can make it a good option for parents and working professionals, providing time to recover from addiction while still maintaining responsibilities. 

Lastly, IOP can be ideal for those who already have a strong support network at home. However, family members will need to maintain a safe, sober environment for you to return home to each evening.

What is PHP?

PHP provides a more intensive level of care and structure than IOP and general outpatient treatment. While you’ll still attend therapy sessions during the day and be able to return home in the evenings, most sessions take place over the course of an entire day.

Partial Hospitalization Programs also provide a highly structured routine, expanded access to medical care and mental health care, and a variety of support groups. 

Benefits of PHP

There are many benefits of PHP which include:

  • Receiving the highest level of structured care without participating in a residential treatment program/inpatient treatment
  • Meeting most days of the week for several hours per session
  • Access high-quality, effective addiction treatment modalities and on-site medical staff, as well as addiction education
  • Return home each night after sessions
  • Receive medication management services and dual diagnosis care (for any co-occurring mental health disorders)
  • Reduce out-of-pocket expenses
  • Be held accountable for your actions

Who is a Candidate for PHP

The ideal candidates for PHP are those who require close medical supervision, such as individuals with a co-occurring mental health disorder (needing mental health treatment), and/or require medication management.

Additionally, individuals who need a higher level of support than general outpatient care and Intensive Outpatient Treatment will be a good fit for PHP, since it provides more frequent and sometimes longer treatment sessions. 

PHP program candidates should also have a strong support system at home with a reliable vehicle or access to consistent transportation. 

PHP vs IOP: Primary Differences Between Them

In summary, both IOP and PHP provide addiction treatment for drug and alcohol abuse in a structured environment. Both programs also provide access to evidence-based and holistic therapies in individual therapy settings and group therapy. The primary differences between the programs include:

Program Intensity

IOPs provide a moderately intense level of care that takes place 3 to 5 days per week, for several hours each session. The frequency and duration can decrease over time as you progress through the program. PHPs offer a much more intense level of care and often resemble a full-day program, taking place most days of the week for several hours each day. 

Medical Monitoring

While IOPs don’t typically involve medication management or medical oversight, PHPs do provide this level of monitoring and can be ideal for those who need access to medical staff on a regular basis. 


IOPs are considered a step-down option for those who have already completed a higher level of care and will typically last for a few months. The exact amount of time will vary based on the specific treatment plan. PHPs typically last for several weeks, but can sometimes last longer depending on the individual’s needs. 

Structure and Support

IOPs provide structured therapy sessions that take place several days per week and address a variety of emotional and psychological concerns and issues. They emphasize learning coping skills and identifying triggers, as well as many other tools for maintaining sobriety in the long term. While PHPs also provide access to various therapies to address emotional concerns, there is typically an emphasis on mental health concerns and medical care and individuals will also spend a much greater amount of time in therapy sessions.

Get Substance Abuse Treatment with Assure Recovery Center

At Assure Recovery Center, we’re a leading drug and alcohol abuse treatment center with a patient-centered approach dedicated to healing the underlying causes of addiction. Our treatment programs provide highly specialized solutions to address the intricacies of each client’s needs. Whether it’s your first time seeking treatment or you have a history of relapse, our team is committed to providing compassionate, effective care to help you achieve lasting sobriety. Call (833) 530-0291 today to get the help you deserve.

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