PHP and IOP: A Primer on Step-Down Care

PHP and IOP - a guide on stepdown addiction care

Outpatient programming is an important part of the continuum of care for those seeking to recover from a substance use disorder. While occasionally used as a starting point for those new to the world of recovery, outpatient programs are generally not stand-alone. In most treatment pathways, they serve as a step-down from inpatient rehabilitation, a way to help assimilate into daily life without excess pressure.

Outpatient programs are not all made equal, and the various options available are each intended to serve a different purpose to best support the process of recovery. At FHE Health, outpatient programming is available in two distinct forms: partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs.

What Is a Partial Hospitalization Program?

PHP Program - A partial hospitalization program, also known as a PHP, is a form of an outpatient program that is generally utilized directly following detox and inpatient rehabilitation. Like residential treatment, PHP is generally quite time-consuming, with meetings and activities spanning for most of the day, often for five to seven hours, five days a week, for around 30 hours weekly.

The content of the programming in a PHP will vary from one organization to another. It may include group therapy, individual therapy, life skills sessions, medication management, and discussion. The latter can touch on topics like accountability, anger management, processing emotions, and coping mechanisms.

The primary difference between PHP and inpatient rehabilitation lies in residence. While inpatient requires participants to live in a treatment center, members of a PHP may live at home or in sober living. This provides an extra layer of autonomy for those who have successfully finished an inpatient program but are not yet ready to return to the jobs, habits, living arrangements, or lifestyle choices that contributed to the onset of addiction.

Advantages of PHP

A PHP is an effective marriage between a residential program and less demanding outpatient treatment options. While individuals involved no longer have to live in a rehabilitation center, extensive time is still committed to rehabilitation. This provides an acceptable middle ground, in which some freedoms are restored but most of participants’ free time continues to revolve around building a solid foundation for ongoing sobriety. The advantages of a PHP include:

  • Continued access to professional addiction resources
  • Ongoing individual therapy to work through personal problems that contribute to abusive behavior
  • Life skills content to facilitate healthy habits upon the conclusion of rehabilitation
  • Activity during the day to prevent a return to unhealthy habits
  • Accountability in a group setting
  • The opportunity to develop bonds with others in the same place in life

What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

What is intensive outpatient programAn intensive outpatient program, frequently referred to as an IOP, is a less demanding iteration of a partial hospitalization program. While the name may imply otherwise, an IOP is actually less intensive than a PHP and is more likely to meet three to five days a week for three to five hours a day, providing care for around 15 to 20 hours a week.

An IOP is a step down from a PHP, offering more freedom to those who have satisfactorily completed one to three months of treatment. At this stage, participants are expected to be more comfortable with sobriety and thus less likely to fall back into old habits when more free time is available.

Intensive outpatient programs are also more flexible in terms of scheduling, with more options to work around necessary life events. Some programs meet early in the day or late in the evening to allow for time to attend work, school, or family activities. In an IOP, it is frequently understood that participants cannot put their lives on hold forever and that returning to earning an income or investing time with loved ones can be beneficial to mental health. IOPs loosen the reins, so to speak, helping those in recovery to live a more normal life.

Benefits of IOP

Intensive outpatient programs can greatly benefit the course of recovery, providing an effective reduction in the intensity of care. Offering more freedom and flexibility, an IOP is the first true opportunity to reclaim elements of life before rehabilitation. At this stage, participants are assumed to be responsible enough to move forward in a safe, healthy way.

The benefits of IOPs include:

  • Continued access to recovery programming in a professional environment
  • Increased flexibility to ease back into school and work
  • Access to others who are making the same transitions
  • Medication management
  • Ongoing individual counseling for further treatment of personal challenges

Sober Living and Outpatient Care

Sober living - what is it, addiction stepdown careAfter detox and inpatient rehabilitation, many recovering users are eager to move back home and settle back into normal life. However, this is not always suggested. Instead, many programs, including FHE, encourage participation in sober living houses, or residential communities for those in outpatient programs. This allows a transitory place to call home while attending outpatient care to help participants avoid temptation and focus more intensely on recovery. Sober living can be an effective addition to outpatient resources and may improve the chances of success.

It is important to be aware that sober living programs do come with substantial rules, including a curfew, chore participation, and abstinence from substances. Those who do not follow the rules may face consequences including the loss of residential privileges. This is not intended to be a punishment, but rather incentive to focus on getting healthy and making wise decisions outside the confines of a recovery center.

Which Program Is Right for You?

At FHE, outpatient care is encouraged as a part of a continuum, not in the form of several standalone pieces to be utilized as desired. For those completing rehabilitation in an inpatient facility, a partial hospitalization program is the best choice. This kind of program provides a continuation of care and only moderate interruption to a routine with which participants are already familiar.

Those who have already taken part in a PHP may be ready for an intensive outpatient program. However, it is important not to make this kind of transition too soon. Trying to rush through treatment or treating rehabilitation as a task that simply requires completion can stand in the way of successful recovery and ultimately increase the likelihood of relapse.

At FHE Health, we believe in supporting every member of our community in a personalized manner. From initial admission into our detox process to graduation to alumni status, we provide an individual approach specially curated for each participant. Please contact us today to learn more about our outpatient programs and how our PHP and IOP options can support you in your recovery.

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