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What is the Difference Between PHP and Outpatient Rehab?

People who live with an untreated addiction to drugs or alcohol may face severe physical, emotional, and social consequences. An untreated addiction can be destructive to people’s short and long-term health and safety and impairs daily functioning.

Because substance abuse can change the way the brain and body function, most people find it very challenging to overcome addiction on their own. In most cases, people require comprehensive treatment and ongoing support to stop using addictive substances and maintain sobriety for life.

All people have different needs during treatment, depending on the severity of their addiction, their existing support networks, mental health, and other factors. Several levels of care are available to meet people’s varying needs during rehab and recovery.

Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) and outpatient rehab programs are two levels of addiction treatment. This guide will detail what to expect in each level of care and help you understand the differences between them.

Choosing the right level of addiction treatment is essential to your long-term success in recovery. Reach out to the caring team at the Mandala Healing Center now to determine which treatment program is right for you or to learn about our holistic approach to addiction rehab.

What to Expect From a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is an intensive level of addiction treatment. It is the most structured and intensive form of outpatient addiction care.

The rigorous schedule of a PHP mirrors the treatment schedule and approach of inpatient rehab but allows people to live at home while going through the program. People in a PHP often cannot work or attend school because of the intensive treatment schedule. People typically spend 25 to 40 hours per week engaged in treatment sessions.

Here is what you can expect from a partial hospitalization program.


Before starting treatment, it’s essential for your team to get to know your current needs and goals, as well as any issues that may complicate your treatment. They will perform an intake assessment to learn about your substance use, mental health and medical needs, and other aspects of your treatment needs.


Each person in a PHP receives a tailored treatment plan that consists of evidence-based therapies and holistic care. A PHP treatment plan may include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family education and therapy
  • Medical consultations
  • Mental health treatment
  • Medication management
  • Behavioral therapies
  • Exercise, nutrition counseling, art and music therapy, and other holistic treatments
  • Coping skills practice
  • Relapse-prevention education

Partial hospitalization programs vary in length, depending on each person’s needs. A PHP may be as short as 2 or 3 weeks or could last longer if people require intensive care for a longer period.

Coordination of care

Addiction is a lifelong condition, and people need to stay active in recovery to avoid relapse. After completing a PHP, people must continue to receive care and support as they navigate the first weeks and months of sobriety.

During a PHP, people work with their treatment team to develop an aftercare plan or transfer to another level of care, such as outpatient rehab.

Who Benefits From a PHP?

A doctor or addiction specialist will help to determine which level of care best meets your needs. Generally, a partial hospitalization program is appropriate for people who require a significant level of care and support but who do not require inpatient treatment. This group includes:

  • People who have safe, stable housing
  • People who not require 24/7 supervision or management of mental health and medical conditions
  • People who are not inactive withdrawal and who do not experience constant cravings
  • People with adequate support at home or in the community
  • People who have completed an inpatient treatment program

Partial hospitalization program participants must have reliable transportation to and from appointments and be motivated enough to attend all treatment sessions independently.

What is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehab programs are a flexible outpatient level of care that provides regular treatment and support for people living with addiction. Typically, outpatient rehab participants attend several treatment sessions per week. Many outpatient rehab facilities offer evening treatment sessions to accommodate people’s work or school schedules.

In an outpatient rehab, people engage in evidence-based and holistic therapies that can help them manage the behavioral, physical, and psychological aspects of their addiction while living their lives.

Outpatient rehab treatment programs may include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Behavioral therapies
  • Relapse prevention education
  • Coping skills practice
  • Mental health treatment
  • Family therapy
  • Exercise, nutrition support, mindfulness, and other holistic therapies

Who Should Attend an Outpatient Program?

Many people participate in an outpatient rehab program after completing a more intensive level of treatment, such as inpatient care or a PHP. People may also attend outpatient rehab after a slip or relapse to get back on track in recovery.

Because outpatient rehab requires less time than other levels of addiction treatment, it’s crucial that people have a stable living environment, adequate social support in the community, and the desire and ability to attend treatment sessions independently.

Find Treatment Now

If you or someone you love requires treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, you are not alone. The care you need is available at the Mandala Healing Center.

Finding the right level of care to meet your needs is critical. Contact our supportive team of specialists now to learn about our PHP and outpatient rehab programs and determine which is right for you.