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Addiction Treatment

What’s the Difference Between PHP and IOP?

Addiction treatment programs can be either inpatient or outpatient. For many people, inpatient treatment is not an option. So, IOP (intensive outpatient program) or PHP (partial hospitalization program) is their next option.  

But what is the definition of outpatient rehab? What is the difference between the two programs? How do you choose which program is best for you? At Sana Lake, we help you choose an individualized program that offers the best chance at recovery.  

What is Outpatient Treatment?

An outpatient rehab program allows members to attend treatment while living at home. For members who can’t leave work or have families to care for, PHPs and IOPs work around their schedules.  

Outpatient treatment is beneficial for those with: 

  • A mild to moderate substance use disorder 
  • Little to no risk of serious withdrawal complications 
  • A strong support system 
  • High motivation for lasting recovery 
  • Transportation to and from treatment 

PHP vs. IOP: What's the Difference?

Members going through PHP spend more time in psychotherapy and group sessions. For example, members in PHP may spend up to 8 hours a day in treatment. The length of each session highly depends on the needs of the member.  

To meet each member’s needs, holistic therapies are often added to psychiatric and medical treatments. Holistic therapies are beneficial because members of PHP may still be vulnerable. And holistic therapies bring relaxation, calm, and balance to life in recovery. 

In contrast, members going through IOP spend less time in treatment. Times for IOP vary depending on the treatment center, but one can expect IOP treatment 3 days a week for 3-4  hours each session. 

IOP works best for individuals who may have a part-time job, while PHP is best for individuals who are solely focused on their recovery but want to spend nights at home. 

Image explaining the difference between PHP and IOP

IOP vs. PHP: How Does Treatment Work

Treatment sessions in IOP and PHP are based on the needs of the member. For example, if a member struggles with cravings, they may add more sessions to their therapy. But, as they improve, sessions will become fewer.  

Besides psychotherapy, group sessions in IOP can help those new to recovery learn from those who have been there. Group therapy also can help members feel less lonely and isolated as lasting bonds are made.   

Here are common evidence-based treatments offered in PHP and IOP: 

  • Group Therapy 
  • Individual Therapy 
  • Holistic Therapy 
  • Family Therapy 
  • Medication Management 

What are the Similarities of PHP and IOP?

PHP and IOP are similar in that members receive treatment during the day and live at home in the evening. Treatments and therapies in IOP vs. PHP are also similar. However, IOP focuses more on relapse prevention. 

Whether you choose PHP or IOP, you will receive individualized personal care that puts you on the path to lasting recovery.  

How To Choose Between IOP vs. PHP

Choosing the right addiction treatment program can be confusing. Some people may not know the difference between inpatient and outpatient treatment. So, how do people choose between IOP vs. PHP?  

For help in deciding the best choice for treatment, it is best to consider the following:  

Time Commitment

The recovery process is time-consuming. However, your recovery and overall well-being are worth all the time it takes to heal. If you want the shortest treatment program, then inpatient is the way to go. These programs typically last 30 days.  

Some outpatient programs such as PHP and IOP may last 90 or even 200 days. The length of time spent in any treatment program greatly depends on the member and their substance use disorder.  

Insurance and Finances

Finances are one of the biggest obstacles in addiction treatment. However, insurance is required by the Federal Parity Law to cover mental and behavioral health services (1). For members without insurance, there are options.  

Besides insurance, some centers may offer payment plans or grants. Crowdfunding is another way to cover the cost of recovery.  


Another important factor in choosing an addiction program is your lifestyle. Lifestyle factors include your diagnosis, your career, school, and your responsibilities to your family. These factors often determine whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is best. And, if it’s outpatient, you have to consider the differences in PHP and IOP and which program would serve you best.  

The Pros and Cons of PHP and IOP

Like all decisions in life, there are pros and cons when choosing IOP vs. PHP. Determining which treatment program is right for you can be the difference in recovery or relapse. The following may help you decide between PHP vs. IOP. 

  • Individual and group therapy 
  • Life skills training 
  • Family therapy 
  • Mindfulness and meditation 
  • Lower cost than inpatient treatment 
  • Flexible hours 
  • Access to drugs and alcohol 
  • Facing real-life triggers 
  • Needing transportation to treatment  
  • Lack of supervision 

If you are still unsure whether to choose PHP or IOP, talk to your doctor or call us at Sana Lake, and we will gladly answer any questions you have.  

Can PHP and IOP Treat Co-Occurring Disorders?

Co-occurring disorders happen when a person struggles with a drug or alcohol use disorder and a mental or behavioral disorder. This is also commonly called a dual diagnosis.  

It is so common that according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 45 percent of Americans suffer from a dual diagnosis. Furthermore, people with a mental health disorder are twice as likely to struggle with substance use disorder.  

While some co-occurring disorders that are being managed can be treated in IOP or PHP, inpatient treatment is better suited to treat a dual diagnosis. This is because co-occurring disorders need simultaneous treatment to reduce the risk of relapse.  

Outpatient Treatment Programs at Sana Lake Recovery

As the numbers above show, you are not alone in your struggle with addiction. And like you, they are also lost on whether to choose PHP or IOP for their treatment. At Sana Lake, we have helped thousands of people like you achieve lasting recovery.  

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction and don’t know where to turn? Sana Lake has multiple locations including St. Louis, Affton, and O’Fallon. Contact us today. We are waiting to help you achieve lifelong recovery. 

  1. American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Does your insurance cover mental health services?. American Psychological Association. Does your insurance cover mental health services? ( 
  1. BMC Public Health. (n.d.). Group versus individual treatment for substance use disorders: a study protocol for the COMDAT trial. Retrieved from 
  1. Systematic Reviews. (n.d.). Evidence-based models of care for the treatment of alcohol use disorder in primary health care settings: protocol for systematic review. Retrieved from 


Picture of Ashley Murry LCSW
Ashley Murry LCSW
Ashley Murry, LCSW, is the Chief Clinical Officer at Sana Lake Recovery. She oversees clinical operations, ensuring effective treatment strategies and compliance. Before this, she was Program Director at Gateway Foundation, managing care programs and collaborating with state departments. Ashley has also served as Director of Clinical Services at Treatment Management Company, improving staff retention and clinical standards. She holds a Master's in Social Work from the University of South Florida and a Bachelor's in Social Work from Saint Leo University. She is licensed in Florida, Arizona and Missouri.
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