PHP vs. IOP vs. Residential Rehab: The Differences Explained | All Points North

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PHP vs. IOP vs. Residential Rehab: The Differences Explained

When searching for addiction treatment for yourself or someone else, one of the first steps is understanding PHP vs. IOP vs. residential rehab. Each of these types of treatment is highly effective at helping people achieve recovery, but they are all specifically catered to the needs of each client.

Let’s break down the differences and similarities so you know how to make the right choice for yourself or your loved one.

PHP vs. IOP vs. Residential Rehab

It’s important to recognize that substance use treatment has been researched for decades and has proven itself time and time again to be an effective method of overcoming substance use disorders. In fact, most people living with a substance use disorder who seek treatment will recover.

However, choosing the right level of care is critical to success. Typically, this is done with the help of trained addiction professionals who use evidence-based tools to assess each client’s level of need. Often, they do this according to criteria set out by the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

When used for the appropriate clients, the types of care all have similar levels of effectiveness in helping people achieve lasting sobriety. In other words, even people with severe and debilitating substance use disorders can recover.

Residential Treatment

Between residential treatment, IOP, and PHP, residential treatment offers the highest level of addiction care. This means that it places the most demands on your time, provides the highest level of therapy and treatment, and offers the most support from addiction professionals.

The defining characteristic of residential treatment is that clients live on-site at their treatment facility while receiving care. But unlike another common form of addiction treatment, referred to as inpatient care, residential treatment offers a warm, home-like environment rather than a hospital bed or dorm room.

Clients receiving residential care attend treatment nearly every day of the week for several hours at a time. A typical treatment schedule may include meeting with therapists and support groups from 9-5, with breaks and lunch in between, and opportunities for adjunctive treatments or recreation during the evening.

During off time, clients at residential treatment typically reside with other people who are on the same path to recovery. Addiction professionals are also on-site 24/7. This not only fosters a strong sense of community and social support for recovery but also allows clients to get constant support from professionals if required.


PHP stands for partial hospitalization program. The PHP level of care sits just below residential care, with a similar intensity of treatment but more relaxed regulations about where you spend your time when not in treatment.

Clients at a PHP don’t necessarily live on-site while receiving care. Instead, they can return home after the treatment day is completed. This step down in treatment means that clients at PHP no longer receive 24/7 support but are free to put the strategies they have learned into real-life practice during their free time.

PHP can be thought of as an intensive form of day treatment. Clients will still typically attend therapy and support groups from 9-5 but have less structure for what they do after the treatment day is over.


IOP stands for intensive outpatient program and is another step down in the level of care from PHP. With the step down in care, an IOP offers further levels of flexibility for people seeking addiction treatment, with a reduction of hours spent in therapy or receiving addiction care.

If attending PHP treatment were likened to a full-time job, IOP could be considered to be a part-time job. Clients in IOP typically attend treatment on fewer days per week and for fewer hours at a time.

This makes it an ideal choice for people who have already completed higher levels of care and are still seeking support or for people with milder substance use disorders who don’t need a higher intensity of care.

Due to the less demanding time requirements of IOP treatment, clients at this level of care can:

  • Live at home while receiving high-quality addiction care
  • Continue working a full-time position
  • Maintain time-intensive responsibilities at home

Most clients who start in residential or PHP treatment will transition to IOP after completing the higher level of care. This transition, often referred to as the continuum of care, is an effective method of slowly reducing the intensity of treatment over time.

As clients develop the skills they need to maintain sobriety, reducing the supervision and support they receive can enable them to practice relapse prevention strategies and build confidence.

Common Treatments Throughout Levels of Care

No matter whether you choose PHP, IOP, or residential rehab for yourself or your loved one, the treatment options between these different addiction programs have more in common than not. The foundation of any effective addiction treatment options is evidence-based care, which includes several different treatment and therapy options.

Some of the most common evidence-based approaches include:

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is one of the most effective methods for treating substance use disorders. MAT combines the use of specific medications designed to treat the symptoms of addiction or drug and alcohol withdrawals with talk therapy interventions to support recovery.

MAT itself isn’t a cure, but it can make the path to recovery much easier. Particularly for people living with an opioid or alcohol use disorder, medications such as buprenorphine, naltrexone, or acamprosate can vastly reduce substance use cravings and the lingering effects of physical withdrawal.

MAT is performed under the careful supervision of a trained psychiatrist. These professionals not only prescribe these medications but track your progress over time and adjust dosage or timing as needed to suit ever-changing needs.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that is used for substance use and mental health conditions alike. The key principle underlying CBT is that people’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors all influence each other. Each of these three categories can become a target for direct therapeutic intervention.

CBT teaches clients specific strategies and coping mechanisms to help manage their emotions, change the way they think, and ultimately behave in ways that align with their treatment goals. The skills learned in CBT can last a lifetime and can support you in building a stronger, healthier life in recovery.

Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention programs are designed to support people in maintaining abstinence no matter what happens in life. Invented by the renowned addiction psychologist Alan Marlatt, relapse prevention views relapse not as a singular event but as a process that can be understood, prepared for, and avoided.

In order to achieve this goal, relapse prevention programs teach clients about triggers, high-risk situations, and adaptive coping mechanisms. While the specifics of each depend on the client, going through a relapse prevention program can equip you with tools and understanding to tackle the most difficult situations that life may throw at you in your recovery.

Group Therapy

Group therapy has long been one of the most effective tools for helping people achieve lasting sobriety. The origin of group therapy was as a cost-saving measure to provide the tools of individual therapy to more people at once.

However, scientists quickly discovered that there was an inherent power in the group itself, often far above that of the therapeutic techniques that were being introduced.

Group therapy pairs a person struggling with addiction with a host of peers who have a shared experience. While they may be of different ages, genders, or cultural experiences, the challenge of breaking free from a substance use disorder is shared.

This creates an incredibly powerful tool for recovering from a substance use disorder. It provides social proof that recovery is possible, as group members with more time in sobriety show that it’s achievable. It also provides a space for people who have stayed sober to help others achieve the same goal.

On a fundamental level, participating in group therapy allows people to connect with others who truly understand their challenges and can share the rewards of breaking through to the other side.

Dual-Diagnosis Care

A significant portion of people struggling with substance use have a co-occurring mental health condition. Common mental health disorders experienced during addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Bipolar disorder

If mental health concerns go unaddressed, they can often drive people back toward substance use. Symptoms of these mental health challenges may have been what led a person to begin self-medicating, and even in the process of recovery, they can lead the person to return to drugs or alcohol to find relief.

Dual-diagnosis treatment addresses this directly by treating both the addiction and the mental health challenges simultaneously. This includes targeted mental health treatment options, integrated support groups, and psychiatric medication management during addiction treatment.

Adjunctive Treatment Options

Adjunctive treatment refers to treatment options that are used to complement or enhance the addiction treatment process. At APN Lodge, our team offers an abundance of innovative and effective adjunctive treatment options to support people on their path to recovery, including:

  • Ketamine-Assisted Treatment: Uses the dissociative psychedelic ketamine to help facilitate the talk therapy process and promote neurochemical changes
  • Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: Provides targeted electromagnetic impulses deep into the brain to enhance recovery from mental health challenges
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Facilitates the healing process from a number of different conditions by introducing clients to concentrated oxygen exposure
  • Neurofeedback: Uses real-time brainwave data to help people understand and control their brain responses to different situations
  • Stellate Ganglion Block: Provides a local anesthetic to a nerve bundle in order to reduce a heightened fight-or-flight response

These adjunctive treatments can help clients seeking addiction recovery to achieve a more holistic sense of mental health and well-being. If you have a co-occurring mental health condition or other needs from your treatment stay, these treatments can help round out a comprehensive treatment plan.

Start Treatment at APN

Starting treatment isn’t always an easy choice to make. Addiction can be incredibly difficult to overcome, and making the right decision in treatment is often difficult while in the midst of a substance use disorder.

At APN Lodge, our team can help guide you toward the treatment options that work best for you. If you’re still unsure about whether to begin in PHP, IOP, or residential rehab or have any other questions regarding addiction, reach out to one of our team members today by calling 855.510.4585.

Alternatively, you can chat with one of our representatives at any time using the live chat function on our website or by filling out our online contact form. Our team is full of dedicated professionals who are committed to helping you find the right level of care for your needs, the best treatment options to help you recover, and supporting you in every step of your journey.


  • “About the Asam Criteria.” American Society of Addiction Medicine, Accessed 25 May 2024.
  • Jones, Christopher M., et al. “Prevalence and Correlates of Ever Having a Substance Use Problem and Substance Use Recovery Status among Adults in the United States, 2018.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, vol. 214, 2020, p. 108169, Accessed 25 May 2024.