What is a Partial Hospitalization Program for Substance Abuse Recovery?

Learn more about the benefits of a PHP for substance abuse and how it can help you achieve lasting recovery.

What is a Partial Hospitalization Program?

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is a structured, intensive outpatient mental health treatment program. It’s designed for people who need more support than traditional outpatient therapy but not the 24-hour care of inpatient hospitalization.

PHP for Substance Abuse

Treatment Modalities

A PHP for substance abuse and mental health often involves daily attendance at a treatment center for several hours each day. In these sessions, people take part in a variety of therapeutic activities.
These activities may include:
  • Therapy
  • Medication management
  • Skill-building exercises

Goals of a PHP

A PHP is meant to provide comprehensive and intensive treatment while allowing people to return home in the evenings. As long as symptoms don’t require constant monitoring, these programs are often used for people struggling with conditions such as:
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Other mood disorders
  • Substance use disorder
It’s important to note that the specific structure and offerings of these programs can vary. This is because they’re tailored to meet the individual needs of each participant. The duration of a PHP can also vary depending on the person’s progress and the treatment plan.

What is Substance Use Disorder?

A substance use disorder (SUD) is characterized by a person’s recurrent use of substances such as alcohol or drugs, even when it negatively affects their life.

An SUD’s severity can range from mild to severe. They’re diagnosed based on specific criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which is a widely used classification system for mental health disorders.
In the United States, 46.3 million people meet the DSM-5 criteria for a substance use disorder.1

Symptoms of a Substance Use Disorder

While everyone’s symptoms will vary, some common signs of an SUD may include:2
  • Increased amounts or using over a longer period than intended
  • Unsuccessful attempts to control substance use
  • Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the substance
  • Failure to fulfill major obligations at work, school, or home due to substance use
  • Continued substance use despite social or interpersonal problems caused by the effects of the substance
  • Engaging in substance use in dangerous situations, such as while driving 
  • The need for increased amounts of the substance to achieve the desired effect
  • Reduced social, occupational, or recreational activities because of substance use
  • Intense r cravings for the substance

Importance of Attending Treatment at a PHP for Substance Abuse Recovery

Attending a PHP can be crucial for those with a substance use disorder. This is because a PHP provides a structured and intensive level of care that is tailored to address the complexities of addiction.
A PHP for substance abuse recovery offers a comprehensive approach, creating a supportive and safe environment for patients to confront and navigate their challenges with their substance use disorder.
This level of care is particularly important for those whose SUD needs more than traditional outpatient treatment but not 24-hour supervision. Attending a PHP for substance abuse plays a vital role in empowering people to achieve and sustain meaningful progress.

Key Components of a PHP for Substance Abuse

The key components of a PHP for substance abuse may vary based on the specific program and the individual needs of participants. But, common elements often include:3

Structured Schedule

A PHP often has a structured daily schedule that includes various therapeutic activities and interventions. This may include:
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Educational sessions
  • Recreational activities

Individual Therapy

Most programs involve one-on-one counseling sessions with a licensed therapist or counselor to:
  • Address personal issues
  • Develop healthy coping strategies
  • Set individualized treatment goals

Group Therapy

Taking part in group therapy sessions provides individuals with the opportunity to connect with peers who are facing similar challenges. It fosters a sense of community and allows for shared experiences and insights. Further, it promotes a sense of accountability within participants.
This is especially important for people with substance use disorders, as there is still a stigma surrounding the condition. Community and group therapy helps people feel more involved and supported throughout recovery.

What is Group Therapy?


Educational sessions about:
  • The nature of substance abuse
  • Its effects on the body and mind
  • Strategies for relapse prevention
This helps people develop a better understanding of their condition and learn tools for long-term recovery.

Skill-Building Activities

A PHP for substance abuse recovery often incorporates activities aimed at:
  • Developing life skills
  • Stress management techniques
  • Healthy coping mechanisms
These skills are essential for navigating challenges and maintaining sobriety outside the program.

Family Involvement

In some cases, family therapy or educational sessions may be included to address the impact of substance abuse on the family system. It can also help people improve family dynamics.

Relapse Prevention Planning

Developing a personalized relapse prevention plan is a crucial aspect of a PHP for substance abuse recovery. This includes:
  • Identifying risk factors for relapse
  • Creating coping strategies
  • Establishing a support network to help prevent relapse

Continued Assessment and Evaluation

Regular assessment and evaluation of a person’s progress is integral to adjusting and refining the treatment plan as needed. This ensures that the program remains tailored to the person’s evolving needs.

Aftercare Planning

Planning for the transition from a PHP to lower levels of care, such as intensive outpatient or traditional outpatient treatment, is essential.
Aftercare plans often include:
  • Ongoing support
  • Relapse prevention strategies
  • Connections to community resources
These components work together to provide a comprehensive PHP for substance abuse treatment program.

Continued Healing After Treatment

Often, treatment facilities, such as Continuum Outpatient Center, will have alumni networks and aftercare services to provide continued support even after treatment.
Recovery is not a destination, but is a lifelong journey, and relapse prevention strategies and ongoing support are essential for long-term well-being.

The Role of Medication Management in a PHP For Substance Abuse Recovery

Medication management often plays a crucial role in a PHP for substance abuse recovery. This is especially true when people have co-occurring mental health conditions.

The integration of medication management into the treatment plan involves several key components:

Assessment and Evaluation

Before starting any medication, a thorough assessment of the person’s mental health and substance use history will be conducted.

This evaluation helps identify:
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Other medical considerations that may warrant medication

Psychiatric Evaluation

A qualified psychiatrist or medical professional will conduct a psychiatric evaluation to determine the appropriateness of medication.
This includes assessing:
  • The severity of mental health symptoms
  • Potential medication benefits
  • The person’s general health

Stabilization and Symptom Management

Medications may also be prescribed to stabilize mood, manage cravings, or reduce symptoms associated with mental health disorders. This can enhance the person’s ability to engage in therapy and other components of the PHP.

Medication Education

Participants in a PHP for substance abuse recovery will receive education about the purpose, potential side effects, and proper administration of any prescribed medications. Understanding the role of medications in the recovery process is crucial for informed decision-making.

Regular Monitoring and Adjustments

Medication management involves ongoing monitoring of the person’s response to the prescribed medications. Regular check-ins with medical professionals allow for adjustments to dosage or changes in medication as needed to optimize effectiveness.

Coordination with Therapy

Medication management is integrated into the broader treatment plan, working in tandem with individual and group therapy sessions. This coordination ensures a holistic approach to addressing all aspects of substance use disorders.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

For those with co-occurring mental health conditions, medication management becomes an essential component of dual diagnosis treatment.

The goal is to address both the SUD and the coexisting mental health issues at the same time rather than just treating any overarching symptoms. This significantly improves the chances of long-term wellness and sobriety.

Relapse Prevention

Medications play a role in relapse prevention by managing cravings and reducing the risk of returning to substance use. This is particularly important during the transition from a more intensive level of care, such as inpatient treatment, to the PHP and beyond.
Medication-assisted treatment has been shown to reduce mortality risk in 50% of those with an opioid use disorder (OUD).4

Collaboration with Other Providers

Communication and collaboration between the members of the treatment team ensures a cohesive and integrated approach to care.

What Medications Are Commonly Utilized in MAT?

Common medications that are used to help treat withdrawal symptoms include suboxone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

Medication Assisted Treatment: a General Overview

How Does a PHP for Substance Abuse Help People Transition to Less Intensive Care?

A PHP for substance abuse plays a crucial role in supporting the transition from more intensive levels of care, such as inpatient treatment, to lower levels of care.
Here are several ways in which a PHP works to facilitate this transition:5

Gradual Step-Down Approach

A PHP serves as a step between inpatient treatment and lower levels of care. This gradual transition allows people to maintain a structured and supportive environment while gradually reintegrating into more independent living arrangements.

Continuity of Care

A partial hospitalization program prioritizes continuity of care by maintaining consistent therapeutic interventions and support. This ensures that people receive ongoing treatment and help as they move from the highly controlled environment of inpatient care to a less restrictive setting.

Individualized Treatment Planning

A PHP for substance abuse also tailors treatment plans to the specific needs of each patient. This includes addressing any remaining issues and identifying ongoing support systems.

Family Involvement

Involving family members in the treatment process is a common feature of many programs. This can:
  • Create a supportive home environment
  • Strengthen family relationships
  • Provide a network of support during the transition to independent living

Community Integration

These programs also often incorporate activities that involve the local community. This promotes social integration and helps people build connections outside of the treatment environment. This is important for fostering a sense of belonging and support in the broader community.

Flexibility in Scheduling

A PHP offers flexible scheduling, allowing people to gradually transition to a less intensive treatment frequency as they gain confidence and stability in their recovery.

Therapeutic Practices in a PHP For Substance Abuse Recovery

There are many types of therapy approaches that are used in a PHP for substance abuse. Some of the most common ones include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT addresses the intertwined nature of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, targeting the cognitive patterns that contribute to addictive behaviors. Through CBT, patients identify and challenge negative thought patterns and beliefs that may fuel substance use.
CBT can help:
  • Foster self-awareness 
  • Teach practical skills
  • Manage cravings
  • Navigate high-risk situations
  • Develop healthier responses to stressors
CBT also plays a pivotal role in relapse prevention by helping people recognize and modify behaviors associated with substance use. In fact, research has shown that 60% of people who took part in CBT were substance-free after a year of ending their program.6

How Does CBT Work?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT combines cognitive-behavioral strategies with mindfulness and acceptance techniques. This provides a comprehensive framework for people to manage intense emotions and impulsive behaviors often associated with substance use disorders.
By enhancing emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness, DBT equips people with the skills needed to navigate the challenges of recovery. DBT also encourages them to develop a sense of purpose and engage in positive behaviors that support long-term sobriety.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

MET operates on the principle of empathetic and non-confrontational counseling. This aims to enhance a person’s intrinsic motivation to initiate positive behavioral changes.
Through open-ended discussions and reflective listening, MET therapists work collaboratively with clients to explore their ambivalence about substance use and recovery. This client-centered approach respects the autonomy of patients in their recovery journey.
MET’s emphasis on building self-efficacy encourages people to recognize and reinforce their internal strengths, ultimately promoting a mindset conducive to sustained recovery.

Trauma-Focused Therapies

Trauma-focused therapies play a pivotal role in a PHP for substance abuse, as substance use disorders are frequently intertwined with past traumatic experiences.
Trauma-focused therapies, such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), provide a safe and structured framework for people to process and heal from these traumas.
By exploring the impact of past traumatic events, these therapies help people:
  • Develop healthier coping mechanisms
  • Foster emotional regulation and self-awareness
  • Increase resilience
By addressing the root causes of addiction, these therapeutic approaches contribute to breaking the cycle of substance abuse and promoting holistic healing.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

This type of treatment recognizes the relationship between addiction and mental health. This way, a PHP for substance abuse can tailor interventions to address both mental health and substance use symptoms.
This approach helps people understand the interplay between their substance use and mental health symptoms. Dual diagnosis treatment not only supports people in achieving and maintaining sobriety but also promotes mental health stabilization.

Yoga and Meditation

Yoga and meditation provide a unique avenue for healing by addressing the interconnectedness of the mind, body, and spirit. These approaches are very common in a PHP for substance abuse.
Yoga cultivates self-awareness and promotes a sense of balance through its emphasis on:
  • Physical postures
  • Breathwork
  • Mindfulness
The practice of meditation, whether guided or mindfulness-based, encourages people to observe thoughts and emotions without judgment. In the context of SUD recovery, these practices help people manage cravings and build a foundation for a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

Expressive Arts Therapies

Whether through visual arts, music, dance, or other creative modalities, these therapies provide a non-verbal means of expression. This allows people to explore and communicate their emotions in a safe and supportive environment.
Engaging in the creative process:
  • Fosters self-discovery
  • Uncovers underlying issues contributing to their substance use
  • Offers a way to process trauma, reduce stress, and enhance self-esteem
By integrating these creative practices into the recovery journey, people not only find alternative outlets for self-expression but also cultivate a sense of empowerment and purpose.
PHP for Substance Abuse

PHP For Substance Abuse Recovery at Continuum Outpatient Center

If you or a loved one are struggling with symptoms of substance use disorder, Continuum Outpatient Center can help.
Our compassionate San Antonio, Texas, team is committed to extraordinary client care and clinical outcomes. We’ll work with you to personalize your treatment plan to ensure that you get the support you deserve.
Our diverse team works together to create better patient outcomes. This, coupled with our emphasis on proven, evidence-based treatment methods, means that you’re in the best hands during treatment. Our approach ensures that you will always get the care you need.

Contact Continuum Outpatient Center Today

Our PHP for substance abuse recovery meets five days a week, six hours a day. You can be rest assured that you’ll get the support you need during this time. Our program is designed to promote community building, psychosocial skills development, and higher emotional intelligence.
We’ll be here every step of the way to help you meet your recovery goals. Reach out to us today to take the first step in your healing journey.
Questions About Treatment?
Reach out to our knowledgeable and compassionate Continuum Outpatient Center team for the guidance and support you need for sustainable recovery. We’re here to help you build a foundation for long-term happiness, wellness, and healing.