Lantana Recovery
A modern, community-based approach to addiction treatment for Men and Women in Charleston, SC

Outpatient vs Intensive Outpatient vs Part Hospitalization

Jump to Section

Outpatient vs. Intensive Outpatient vs. Part Hospitalization

Inpatient rehab or residential programs can be extremely beneficial for most people struggling with addiction, but there are situations where different styles of treatment may be more suitable, such as outpatient therapy, intensive outpatient programs (IOP), or partial hospitalization programs (PHP).

But, one may wonder about the differences between each and what that means in terms of treatment and long-term sobriety. All three of these are subcategories of outpatient care. In this article we discuss the difference between the three in detail so you can determine which is best for you or your loved one.

What are outpatient programs?

Outpatient treatment requires the patient to visit the treatment facility daily to attend group therapy sessions, family therapy, one-to-one therapy for mental health disorders and behavioral issues, seminars, educational sessions, etc.

These drug addiction treatment programs are especially suitable for those who suffer from mild addiction and do not require intensive rehab facilities or 24/7 monitoring as in case of inpatient treatment services. Like any other addiction rehab, outpatient care requires patients to first successfully undergo detox which is different from standard outpatient treatment.

Outpatient therapy is also an excellent choice for those who cannot take leave from work or have dependents relying on them for primary care. You can choose your appointment timing and attend regular sessions when you do not have work commitments or when you can leave your kids or the elderly with a part-time caretaker.

This form of treatment also costs a lot less than inpatient programs and you don’t always need your health insurance providers to pay for it. Although, outpatient services do take longer as the purpose is to instill resilience and motivation for the long term. But, there are several insurance companies who will also cover expenses for outpatient programs. You can always call your outpatient facility of choice to inquire about the costs of outpatient rehab and other services.

Additionally, outpatient programs are usually part of the overall treatment process as the step-down phase after the successful completion of an inpatient program. Your therapists and other medical professionals at inpatient facilities may recommend enrolling in an outpatient program to reduce any risks of relapse and to keep you motivated.

There are three prominent types of outpatient services:

  1. Standard Outpatient (OP)
  2. Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
  3. Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

What is a standard outpatient program?

A standard outpatient program is usually recommended after the successful completion of inpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment requires patients to attend individual counseling and regular therapy sessions. These can last between one to three hours or more daily.

Standard outpatient treatment is designed to sustain the healing process and your coping skills after successful detoxification and inpatient rehab. You will be assigned a primary therapist who will keep note of your progress as well as conduct individual counseling sessions, help with mental health issues, conduct group counseling sessions, and provide educational materials for reference.

What is an intensive outpatient program?

Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are a step above standard outpatient treatments. These are meant to provide extensive medical and psychological assistance but within a limited time frame so patients can return to their normal lives and daily routines such as caring for elderly dependents or children.

In an intensive outpatient treatment, individuals attend their rehab or hospital of choice for treatment sessions such as individual therapies, drug testing, relapse prevention seminars, and other services that may be part of the treatment plan or recommended by the primary healthcare provider.

How Does IOP Treatment Work?

IOPs only require a few visits weekly which can last up to nine hours and are usually divided into three individual sessions. The timing can be decided by the patients after discussion with their medical expert as they are mainly determined based on the patient’s condition and they are further changed depending on improvement and progress.

This form of treatment also takes longer than continuous programs like inpatient care, though this does not impact the effectiveness of the program by any means.

Intensive outpatient programs also provide other methods of recovery such as group activities and talks with former addicts who recount their experiences and can reignite your motivation and truly offer support that can help you overcome any mental or physical obstacles on your road to recovery. This can also help prevent loneliness and isolation.

Who should join IOPs?

IOPs are recommended for individuals who have already overcome acute withdrawal symptoms and do not require round-the-clock monitoring. It can also be a good fit for those who do not meet the criteria for enrolling in an inpatient treatment program or who suffer from mild addiction levels.

If you are recently out of inpatient treatment and want to get your life back on the usual routine, you can always enroll in an IOP as well as it keeps your mental and physical health in check and keeps you from relapsing and or feeling “too confident”. With intensive outpatient programs, you are required to visit the facility a few times a week and receive treatment in a controlled environment.

If, however, you feel you are losing your grip on sobriety and require a more intensive form of intervention, then you can always enroll in a PHP instead. IOPs are also not recommended for those who are returning to a triggering environment surrounded by people who may encourage substance abuse.

What is a partial hospitalization program?

Partial hospitalization program or PHP is a more intensive addiction treatment program than IOP but less so than inpatient or residential treatment. Much like other outpatient treatment programs, PHPs require multiple visits and sessions per week at the facility. Although, patients can not reside at the facility as in vase of inpatient treatment programs. Individuals can choose their own accommodations.

How Does PHP Treatment Work?

PHPs require 4 to 5 visits per week and each visit can last from 4 to 9 hours depending on each patient’s needs, addiction patterns, and other healthcare requirements.

PHPs can be compared with other activities as well to guarantee the success of the program. This can include medical and psychiatric attention which is also recommended for most cases. Most patients who enroll in PHPs are recovering from moderate to severe levels of addiction which is why additional psychological help that goes beyond therapy should always be considered.

Who should join PHPs?

Partial hospitalization programs are best suited for those who are suffering from moderate to severe forms of addiction and require more attention and care than in intensive outpatient programs but less so than in inpatient programs.

PHPs also give patients greater access to medical staff who can monitor your condition as well as any progress or setbacks. Individuals who have completed residential treatment but may still be at risk of relapsing can greatly benefit from this program. Others who have faced severe withdrawal and episodes of overdosing and craving can also join this program for more intensive care.

Which outpatient addiction treatment is best for you?

The answer to this question depends entirely on individual diagnoses and addiction history. If you are suffering from addiction, then standard outpatient programs will be a better suit as they are flexible and also help you build resistance in the long term.

On the other hand, if you wish to get your life back on track without spending too much time on post-rehab care, then intensive outpatient treatments can be a great way to help you overcome withdrawal. You should also spend some time researching about what happens once you come out of outpatient rehab.

Lastly, for those suffering from moderate to severe addiction, partial hospitalization programs are considered top choice thanks to their intensive treatment, access to a large medical staff, and daily monitoring of health and addictive patterns.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Outpatient Treatment

Selecting the right rehab treatment can be quite confusing and even daunting. But, thankfully, there are a few key factors you should consider before making the decision.

1. Time Commitment

There are both short and long term outpatient recovery programs. The shortest programs usually last between 25 to 30 days and they include group therapy sessions, detoxification, counseling, etc. The longer programs last between 80 to 200 days, depending on the severity of addition and other health issues.

2. Cost

It goes without saying that considering your financial situation before you decide on the type of outpatient treatment you want is crucial. Some can be quite pricey but overall, outpatient treatments are quite affordable. You can also find out if your health insurance can cover the costs and if you qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. More importantly, it is always wise to check if you qualify for any free or discounted services or whether outpatient rehab services are free for you thanks to a good insurance policy. Besides these, most outpatient programs also offer payment plans or allow for credit card payments. You can even apply for grants or crowdfunding.

3. Lifestyle and Goals

Before you join a program, you must understand that this requires a massive lifestyle change. Most programs are customized and will adjust to your lifestyle and other limitations. You should also be prepared that your lifestyle may change in the near future after receiving addiction treatment.



Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

Related Articles
Addiction Treatment
Contact Form
We’re here to help you or your loved one on their path to sobriety

Chat with us.

Reach out now and join our supportive community

Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.