24 Hour Helpline: (888) 450-2701

Is PHP or IOP Best for My Recovery?

male client consulting the doctor at addiction treatment center

If you’re looking into addiction treatment or rehab, there are a lot of options and choices. Fortunately, that means you can more easily find a treatment solution that meets your needs, lifestyle, and budget. Unfortunately, it can be overwhelming to look through and make those choices, especially if you aren’t always sure what each has to offer.

Eventually, it’s always a good idea to reach out to your rehab facility to ask for advice. Most offer free consultation and can help you move into a program that best suits your needs and budget. In addition, the actual content of programs can vary between facilities, so it’s always important to reach out and ask the facility itself what they are offering, why, and what they recommend for you based on your medical history and information. 

However, the following article will give you an overview of what to expect from each type of program and some information to help you make that decision. 

What is PHP? 

A partial hospitalization program or PHP is a residential treatment method in which you spend your days in a clinical setting. You then move to a residential area connected to the facility. This is similar to inpatient treatment, where you stay in the treatment facility, often in a group accommodation. However, it’s different in that it’s usually intended for longer-term living. 

This means you may have a private studio or apartment or a setup similar to a college dorm. Here, you’ll have some privacy, usually some cooking units, and plenty of storage.  You’ll also get options to eat communally, to exercise, and to go on group excursions and join group classes and lessons. It’s overall very similar to residential treatment, but usually with more separation between living and treatment. 

That separation also makes it more possible to go to work or to school while attending a PHP. Residential treatment normally does not allow this at all. However, not all programs will allow this, so it’s important to discuss your needs with your consultant when making a decision. 


  • 6-8 hours per day, 5 days per week of treatment
  • Residential facilities separate from the clinic 
  • Daily outings and activities
  • Communal/group eating 
  • Schedule with wakeup time and bedtime

Get Your Questions Answered Now

What is IOP?

An intensive outpatient program is a program intended to completely separate living and addiction treatment. Here, you attend a clinic for 4-6 hours per day, 5 days per week, and then go home to your own living situation. Depending on your needs, that may be your own home. It might also be a sober living facility. 

Intensive outpatient programs are ideal if you still have work or childcare responsibilities that you don’t want to or can’t give up while getting treatment. That’s also why many are planned either in the morning or at night. For example, it’s common for IOP programs to be available in: 

  • Weekend – 8 days per weekend day, 2 days per week
  • Morning – Ends before 9 AM or before 10 AM
  • Evening – Starts after 6 PM

Each of these constructions allows you to attend work or school. In addition, some programs made for parents align with the hours your children may be in school, giving you the freedom to get treatment without impacting childcare. 

Here, having the freedom to get treatment around your responsibilities can reduce the barriers to getting treatment. However, it’s also true that you’ll likely stay in the same environment where you were using in the past. You may also have no accountability at home to not use or drink, which can make it harder to stick to the program. In addition, with stress and daily life added on top of your treatment, you will be extremely busy for the entire period. That may decrease the quality of your care. However, inpatient treatment can be as effective as PHP programs

Choosing the Best Option for Your Needs

Both PHP and IOP treatment can do a lot for your recovery journey. Eventually, the best fit normally depends on your situation, your needs, and what you’ve tried before. 

When to Choose PHP

PHP is a best-fit if you need extra hands on support, more separation from your daily life, and time to rebuild and build new habits. 

  • You need the accountability and safety of a managed living space 
  • You’ve talked to a doctor and need longer-term treatment 
  • You want to be in a space that does not remind you of using
  • You want to ensure you have the quiet and free time to focus on recovery 
  • You want to reduce risks of dropping out of the program as much as possible
  • You want to increase contact with your therapists and peers as much as possible 

When to Choose IOP

Intensive Outpatient is a good choice when you need a lighter treatment program but can’t or don’t want to step away from your life or regular responsibilities. 

  • You need your insurance to fully cover the program 
  • You have responsibilities that you cannot defer while you get treatment 
  • You’ve already been to treatment and you need ongoing help 
  • You have a stable place to live and are not using at home 
  • You’ve talked to your doctor and have been assessed as having a light-to-moderate substance abuse problem 
  • You are voluntarily attending treatment and are highly motivated to improve your life 

Eventually, the best choice is going to treatment. Both options have benefits and both will help you to move towards recovery. If you don’t easily fit into either of these boxes, it’s a good idea to discuss the options further with your treatment facility. 

However, there are some situations in which staying home is not the right choice for your recovery. For example, if you live with someone else who uses. Or, if you frequently use at home and do so when you get home. This kind of environment may actually trigger you into a relapse. That’s also true if you have unstable family and relationships, if you normally drink or use at work, or if you make drug and alcohol use a normal part of your life. Breaking those habits will normally mean stepping outside of them so that you can find better coping mechanisms and build new habits. 

Getting Help 

If you’re looking into treatment options, you’re on the right track to getting help. However, it’s important to keep in mind you can always reach out, ask your doctor or a consultant, and get personalized advice on which treatment program is a best fit for you. Often, that will mean an assessment (over telephone), a review of your medical and treatment history, and a review of your insurance and payment options. Treatment should be accessible, affordable, and effective, and offering multiple options means that your treatment can be tailored to your financial, work, home, and medical needs to the fullest possible extent. 

While that may mean you move into one treatment option when you’d prefer another, that approach means you get the best possible treatment for your needs. And, a consultant can always give you advice that you can choose to use or not – so getting personalized help is always the best call. 

If you or a loved one is seeking help for alcohol or other substance abuse, contact us at Stairway Resource Center today. At Stairway Resource Center we provide a 60 to 90-day outpatient program that takes place in an engaging and supportive community setting. We offer dual diagnosis treatment and daily group and individual therapy for our clients, in addition to fun community-based events and activities.

Ready to Get Started on Your Journey to Long-Term Recovery?

Learn More About Our Admissions Process or Call Now to Speak With a Treatment Expert

Our Accreditations

Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken in place of medical advice. Before making any decisions regarding your health, please consult your doctor. The staff at Stairway Resource Center develops a custom treatment plan for each of our patients. Specific medical advice will be provided to our patients by our professional providers while in our care.