How Do Partial Hospitalization Programs Work for Treating Addiction?

There are all sorts of different ways to address an ongoing addiction issue. Some programs are very strict, and they require your attention 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Other programs are quite lax, and they might only demand an hour or two of your time each week. Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) fall somewhere in the middle. They are not residential programs, so you do not need to move into a facility to take advantage, but they are not appointment-based outpatient programs either. They provide an in-depth, committed level of care for people with addictions and strong at-home support networks.

According to ValueOptions, a PHP is a nonresidential treatment program that may or may not be based in a hospital. Services provided in a PHP include:

  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Medication management
  • Group counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • Psychological testing
  • Vocational counseling
  • Behavior management

This is a robust suite of treatment options, and they could be just right for you if you’re dealing with an addiction. But you will need to go through a bit of preparation and planning before you can take advantage.

Step 1: Get an assessment.

A PHP is not the right option for every single person with an addiction. When you have an addiction, your ability to make good decisions can be impacted. You might find it hard to think clearly about what your future should hold, and you might not be able to work through all of your options and make a decision based on fact and not opinion.

As a result, it is best to work with a professional when you are examining your treatment options. An assessment with a qualified mental health professional can help you to ensure that you are truly choosing the right program that can protect you and your future.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a PHP is appropriate for people who are under the care of a physician who can speak to the need for the structure and support that partial hospitalization can provide. Typically, people like this have a mental health disorder that interferes with their ability to deal with social relationships, jobs, and education. They need an intense form of help, and without it, they can be at risk of needing fulltime care in a hospital.

A professional can perform a combination of mental health and physical health tests to determine your need for PHP care. It is not a decision you can make on your own without the help of a professional.

Step 2: Determine your insurance benefits.

PHPs are more expensive than outpatient programs, simply because there are more intensive services provided. Sometimes, that means insurance companies ask more questions about how PHPs are chosen and who will enroll in them. The costs are bigger, so the insurance company might want to ensure you are working with a company that bills appropriately.

For example, the insurance company HealthNet requires that people hoping to use a PHP choose a program that provides at least six hours of care up to five days per week, or three hours per day up to five days per week. Treatment must be provided by companies with approvals from TriCare, and only 60 days of care per year will be approved.

These are stringent rules, but it is important to follow them. Those who do not may be responsible for the entire cost of care, and that care can be quite expensive. It pays to know the rules in advance, so you can be sure you are choosing a provider for PHP that is covered by your insurance.

Step 3: Determine the treatment plan.

Your PHP treatment plan is likely to include quite a bit of therapy that is designed to help you understand and overcome the difficulties caused by your addiction. When you enroll, the team will ask you to undergo mental health testing and functional testing, so the team can understand your challenges and prepare the proper treatment plan for you.

You will have the opportunity to review and comment on the components that make up your treatment plan. In some rare cases, you may decide that parts of the program are not right for the challenges you are facing right now.

For example, points out that some parts of a PHP treatment plan might not be covered by insurance. If your team offers you job training or job skills training, for example, those treatments may not be covered by your insurance plan. If you cannot afford some parts of the plan or if you are resistant to some aspects of the plan, speak up. Adjustments might be available that could help you feel financially and mentally comfortable.

Step 4: Understand the schedule.

Most PHPs have very strict schedules for people to follow. Sample schedules printed online usually run a little like this:

  • 8-8:45 a.m.: transport from the home to the PHP
  • 8:45-9:30 a.m.: group counseling
  • 9:30-11:30 a.m.: skill-building sessions involving mediation, distress tolerance, communication skills, or emotion regulation
  • 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: group counseling involving substance abuse or mental health
  • 12:30-1:30 p.m.: lunch and private meditation time
  • 130-230p: life skills training involving leisure activities, medication management, and nutrition
  • 2:30-3 p.m.: wrap-up group meeting
  • 3 p.m.: transport to the home

This is a packed day, filled with all sorts of activities that could help you to both understand and overcome your addiction. This is not a schedule with a lot of flex. When you are supposed to be in one place for an activity, you are expected to be there, right on time. Understanding that schedule could help you to avoid making mistakes that could result in your expulsion from the program.—

The Recovery Process

Step 5: Determine next steps.

As an article in Psych Central points out, PHPs are designed to provide short-term care for people in the midst of a severe crisis due to mental health, addiction, or both. These are not long-lasting programs. A PHP will come to an end, and you should be prepared to handle the next steps that will be important to your recovery.

A good next step might involve outpatient care. Here, you can continue to hone the lessons you learned in a PHP, but you will have more open time and freedom. That could allow you to integrate back into your community and your family. That integration could be key to your long-term success in recovery.

In addition to enrolling in outpatient care, you might consider moving into a sober living home. These homes allow you to share a living space with other people who are also actively working on recovery. The home has very strict rules about sobriety, so you will not face challenges around every corner. The structure of a sober living home could allow you to understand how to make your own sober rules at home, so you can stay clean, come what may.

Using Your PHP the Right Way

Getting into the right treatment plan could be an important part of your recovery process. PHPs have the proven ability to help people in need. For example, in a study in the Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, researchers found that PHPs provided reasonable recovery-oriented services, and they implement evidence-based practices. That means PHPs can be considered an effective form of addiction treatment care.

But the best treatment program in the world will not help if your head and heart are not committed to your success. No matter what program you choose, be sure to do your part to work the program. Listen to what your counselors and therapists tell you, and do your part to ensure that you take those lessons to heart. Do that, and you could get the hope and help you have been looking for.

Although Sunrise House doesn’t currently offer partial hospitalization or outpatient programs, a number of our other facilities do. Call  and one of our caring and knowledgable Admissions Navigators will help you find the right facility for your needs.

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