IOP vs. PHP – what’s the difference?

Clinical Review

IOP and PHP are both outpatient options for treating drug or alcohol addiction.

While both IOP and PHP are less commitment than inpatient rehab, PHP is more intensive than IOP.

The Difference Between PHP and IOP

PHP Requires More Hours Per Week in Treatment

Going Directly to PHP is Uncommon

NOTE: Treating withdrawal symptoms is not a standard part of PHP or IOP programs. 

Some outpatient clinics (like Symetria) offer both IOP and outpatient medical detox. With these special IOP programs, treatment can be fully outpatient for most drugs, including opioids. However, alcohol and benzodiazepines (“benzos”) may require inpatient detox regardless of whether it’s followed by IOP or PHP.

Do I need IOP or PHP?

While PHP is a common level of care in addiction treatment, it’s not always an option that patients can select. More commonly, patients choose between IOP or inpatient rehab. 

(See IOP vs. Rehab)

Why aren't there more PHP options?

IOP and inpatient rehab covers different needs of most patients without requiring the middle ground PHP option.

1. PHP is typically offered by providers that also have inpatient rehabs.

Inpatient rehabs often don’t allow patients to start PHP directly because:

NOTE: Inpatient rehabs that offer PHP usually provide sober housing.

By law, PHP housing should be different from the residential treatment phase. But, to patients, this still feels like inpatient care even if the provider is billing insurance as PHP.  Patients are still living on a campus as opposed to at home, though with fewer restrictions.

2. Outpatient PHP is hard to keep full.

Outpatient PHP patients have to be hyperlocal to drive in 5 days per week, while also able to commit to full-time care. 

Patients usually choose outpatient treatment to keep up with work or childcare responsibilities or because it’s more affordable. IOP is better able to meet these needs. So, most outpatient patients choose IOP over PHP.

In addition, patients may drive several hours or even fly to attend inpatient treatment. Whereas, PHP patients would need to live less than an hour driving distance from the clinic. 

What does "PHP IOP" mean?

When someone says “PHP IOP” they likely mean addiction treatment that is outpatient yet intensive.

In the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) official assessment model, both IOP and PHP are bucketed together as level two. This is often referred to as “PHP / IOP.”

ASAM Official Levels of Care

Meeting therapst for outpatient treatment

Level 1

Outpatient Treatment / Outpatient Program (OP)

Level 2

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) / Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Level 3

Residential Treatment / Inpatient Rehab

Level 4

Intensive Inpatient Treatment (including Medical Detox)

(Both IOP and PHP are outpatient and require multiple sessions per week, which separates them from inpatient options or outpatient options that require only 1-2 hours per week or less).

Finding the Right Level of Care for You

Just like you’d go to a primary care doctor to treat seasonal allergies and the E.R. for a life-threatening allergic reaction, addiction treatment has different options. The goal is to find the lowest level of care that is appropriate. 

Symetria Recovery offers level 1 and level 2 treatment options. For some, this may not be enough, but we can help you assess your options and provide local recommendations if needed.

Addiction Treatment Options in Illinois & Texas

To get general advice on addiction treatment in Illinois or Texas, call (866) 933-6056.

Symetria doctors follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, court records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and their own expertise with decades in the field.

About the ASAM Criteria. (2021). Retrieved September 13, 2022, from Default website:

McLellan, A. Thomas., Kushner, H., Metzger, D., Peters, R., Smith, I., Grissom, G., … Argeriou, M. (1992). The fifth edition of the addiction severity index. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment9(3), 199–213. 

All content is for informational purposes only. No material on this site, whether from our doctors or the community, is a substitute for seeking personalized professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard advice from a qualified healthcare professional or delay seeking advice because of something you read on this website.

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