Partial Hospitalization Programs or PHP are Important for Substance Abuse

PHP or Partial Hospitalization Programs are important for many people with substance problems.

That’s true because substance problems often occur along with some form of mental illness.

The overlapping presence of these issues is quite serious.

To get the help you need to deal with them, you must enroll in a treatment program that meets your unique circumstances.

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A PHP is a Common Option for Dual Diagnosis

PHP are one common option for people affected by both addiction and mental illness.

This kind of program can provide effective help for your substance-related symptoms.

It can also help you recover from major mental health problems.

This kind of in-depth care can be essential for getting sober and leading a substance-free lifestyle.

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What Is a PHP Partial Hospitalization Program

Partial hospitalization is a specific level of care for people with substance problems.

While enrolled in a PHP, you live at home. However, for at least 20 hours a week, you receive services at your treatment facility.

To enroll in a PHP, you must meet several basic criteria. First, you must have serious, diagnosable problems with drugs or alcohol.

You must also have diagnosable symptoms of a major mental illness.

Also your substance- and mental health-related symptoms must be unstable or uncontrolled.

Partial Hospitalization Programs and the Continuum of Care

Partial hospitalization forms part of something called the continuum of care.

This term describes the range of services needed by people with substance problems. Inpatient services sit just above PHP on the care continuum. Intensive outpatient programs sit just below.

A PHP is designed as alternatives to inpatient psychiatric care. If they did not exist, many people with substance problems might end up in a residential psychiatric facility.

Effective partial hospitalization makes this unnecessary. Although PHPs are outpatient programs, they are very structured. While at your facility, you will participate in specific activities included in your treatment plan.

This can take up to six to eight hours per day.

Partial Hospitalization Program or PHP - After work a woman who is enrolled in the Partial Hospitalization Program for drug rehab at pathfinders sits and talks with her addiction treatment counselor. She sits looking at the camera and is slightly out of focus as her counselor has his back to the camera and you see just the back of his head.

What Happens in a Partial Hospitalization Program Near You?

Detoxification and Withdrawal

Before starting the main portion of PHP treatment, you must go through substance detoxification (detox). At this stage, you stop your active abuse of drugs or alcohol. You will also:

  • Receive medical care that stabilizes your current condition
  • Prepare to move on to the active phase of your treatment

If you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, the detox process will trigger withdrawal. Withdrawal happens because your brain is no longer getting its expected substance intake.

The types of symptoms you experience at this stage will depend on the particular substance(s) in your system. Some people only experience mild withdrawal symptoms.

However, others experience much more serious issues. In fact, certain forms of withdrawal have the potential to be fatal. For this reason, safe detox requires direct oversight from a trained doctor.

Doctors and their support staff will protect your health and do what they can to make you comfortable.

What is PHP Treatment Like?

Treatments in a PHP are multidisciplinary. This means that more than one kind of health care professional will play a part in your care. This approach is necessary to deal with the overlap between substance problems and mental health problems.

The types of professionals found on the typical care team include:

  • Doctors
  • Addiction specialists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Psychologists
  • Occupational therapists
  • Recreational therapists
  • Social workers
  • Toxicology specialists
  • Emergency services providers

Your team may also include psychiatric nurses and other mental health support personnel. Members of your care team will meet with you and help create an appropriate treatment plan.

Whenever necessary, they can adjust that plan to fit changing circumstances.

During your stay in a PHP, you’ll receive a variety of treatments. Common options include:

  • Psychotherapy in both group and one-on-one settings
  • Sessions with an occupational therapist
  • Medications
  • Psycho education or education services for people with mental illnesses
  • Sessions with a recreational therapist
  • Family counseling

Each plan in a PHP is highly individualized. This means that you may or may not receive any given treatment.

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What are the Partial Hospitalization Program Requirements?

Dual Diagnosis

People who qualify for PHP programs have something called dual diagnosis. This term describes the simultaneous existence of a substance use disorder and a mental illness.

Unfortunately, these overlapping problems are not rare. That’s true, in part, because having a substance problem makes you more vulnerable to mental illness.

At the same time, having a mental illness makes you more vulnerable to substance problems. Experts agree that you can’t recover from dual diagnosis if you only receive substance treatment.

The same holds true if you only receive treatment for mental illness. Instead, your treatment plan must address both issues at the same time.

Unstable Symptoms

Many people with dual diagnosis have their substance and mental health problems under control. These people aren’t necessarily done with treatment.

However, their overall condition is relatively stable. People in a PHP do not have their substance and mental health problems under control.

Instead, they’re still experiencing significant issues in both areas. As a result, their condition is unstable.

No Need for 24/7 Care

Despite the seriousness of their condition, people in PHPs don’t need round-the-clock care.

They do need plenty of treatment time during the day. However, with treatment, they’re well enough to return home at night.

What’s the Length of Stay in a Partial Hospitalization Program?

There is no set time requirement for staying in a PHP. You will receive treatment for as long as you have unstable substance and mental health problems.

When you improve, you can leave your program and move to another level of care. Some people move from a PHP to an intensive outpatient program, or IOP.

An IOP is similar to a PHP in some ways. However, they don’t require you to get as much treatment per week. You may also move on to a standard outpatient program.

This kind of program requires even less of a time commitment than an IOP.

A small percentage of people don’t get the help they need in a PHP. For this reason, they must enroll in an inpatient program, instead.

 Partial Hospitalization Program or PHP - A young woman stands up at her PHP group therapy smiling as she shares her wins for the day while the group cheers her accomplishments.

How do I Find a Partial Hospitalization Program?

We offer Partial Hospitalization Programs in Colorado and Arizona. We are freestanding locations and not part of a bigger healthcare or hospital network.

In addition to Partial Hospitalization Programs we offer all levels of addiction treatment including aftercare.

This makes it easy for you to transition to another level of care when you’re ready without going to another center and losing the connection you have already made in treatment.

How do you Pay for Your Partial Hospitalization Program?

Partial Hospitalization Programs are sometimes covered by private insurance.

If you need additional assistance, we have a PHP that offers payment plans to help you get the treatment you need.

These individualized plans can help you make payments on an affordable schedule.

Find Out More About Partial Hospitalization Programs

Partial Hospitalization Programs are designed to address the large overlap between addiction and mental illness.

They do so by providing 20 or more hours of structured outpatient services each week. People enrolled in a PHP have unstable symptoms of dual diagnosis.

These symptoms are not severe enough for inpatient care. However, they require more treatment than a typical outpatient program can offer. Effective PHP care requires a multidisciplinary team of health experts.

These experts create individualized plans for each client. All plans include treatment for both substance problems and mental illness. However, not all people need or receive the exact same treatment options.

A PHP is not the Same for Everyone

Not everyone stays in a PHP for the same amount of time. Those who improve can move on to a less intense form of outpatient care.

When necessary, clients can also move from a PHP to inpatient care.

Some PHP operate as part of larger health organizations. Others, like Pathfinders operate as freestanding facilities.

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PHP at Pathfinders

Private insurance can pay for all or some of your treatment. Visit our insurance verification page or call to let us work with your insurance for you to help find your level of coverage.

You can also get financial assistance in the form of a payment plan.

Need more information on partial hospitalization programs for mental health near you? Just contact us today at 877-224-0761.


  • 7580 E Gray Rd Suite 201 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
  • (877) 224-0761
  • Mon-Sun: 24x7


  • 2953 S Peoria St. Suite 230 Aurora, CO 80014
  • (877) 224-0761
  • Mon-Sun: 24x7

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