What Are The Differences Between Residential, PHP and IOP Treatment?


If you’re ready to get sober and start looking into rehab, it becomes quickly obvious that there are various treatment options to choose from. What isn’t so obvious is how to determine which one is right for you. Most people aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of residential care, partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) unless they’ve been to rehab before, and even then, the services offered can vary depending on the provider. At Choice House in Boulder, Colorado, we break down the differences between treatment options and the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision regarding your recovery. Keep reading to learn more about what you can expect when enrolled in a residential, partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient program.

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is often hailed as the “gold standard” in addiction recovery. It’s the most intensive level of care available and usually what people picture when they think of rehab. While enrolled in a residential program, you’ll live on-site in an inpatient facility while addressing your problems with drugs or alcohol. Medically-supervised detox and mental health care are often incorporated as well. Most people stay for 30 to 90 days, but this can vary depending on the severity of your addiction. The biggest advantage of residential treatment is that it allows you to take a step back from your daily life and remove yourself from harmful influences so you can focus solely on your recovery. While this is ideal for a lot of patients, it isn’t always possible to put everything on hold for months at a time.


  • Can facilitate medically-assisted detox
  • Highly intensive care for severe addictions
  • Mental health treatment for co-occurring disorders
  • 24/7 monitoring and support in a comfortable setting
  • Provides a sense of structure and routine
  • Recovery-oriented community of peers and professionals
  • No distractions or temptations


  • Unable to work or manage daily responsibilities while in recovery
  • Not compatible with a busy career or schedule
  • Can be difficult to transition back into everyday life
  • More expensive than other treatment options

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

In terms of intensity and setting, PHPs are somewhere between residential treatment and outpatient care. PHPs are highly structured and help individuals get sober without an overnight stay, but recovery services are delivered in a medical environment. While enrolled, you’ll travel to the facility each day to undergo evidence-based treatments such as individual and group therapy, mental health care, support groups, relapse prevention, coping skills development, and more. You’ll spend a lot of time learning more about your addiction and how to deal with the stressors, triggers and cravings encountered in daily life. PHPs are best suited to individuals who need extensive treatment but don’t require 24-hour monitoring. This level of care is also suitable for patients as they transition out of a residential program.


  • Advanced support in a medical environment
  • No overnight stay required
  • 20-25 clinical hours per week
  • More flexible than residential treatment
  • Helps individuals transition into a drug-free lifestyle


  • Can feel like a “day job” while enrolled
  • May not be suitable for patients who need to detox
  • Requires a stable home environment

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

IOPs are similar to PHPs but require fewer hours per week. That doesn’t mean less support and a lower quality of care, however. You’ll find many of the same therapeutic modalities as you would in residential treatment, including individual and group therapy, relapse prevention, life skills education and more. The difference is that IOPs are more flexible and let you continue to live at home while in recovery. This leaves more time for work, family and other daily responsibilities. IOPs are typically a good choice for professionals with busy schedules, high-functioning addicts, and those who want ongoing support as they transition back into the real world after completing residential or PHP treatment.


  • High-quality addiction treatment
  • 10 clinical hours per week
  • More freedom and flexibility
  • Won’t interfere with a busy schedule
  • Can be used for primary or step-down care
  • Support from peers and professionals
  • Helps further develop coping skills


  • May not be suitable for patients with severe addictions
  • Requires a safe, supportive home environment
  • More exposure to triggers and stressors
  • Less structured than residential settings

Choosing the Recovery Solution That’s Right for You

The right addiction treatment program can make a big difference on your road to recovery. Too little support and you might have trouble coping and find yourself on the verge of relapse. Too much and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the restrictions or requirements. So when deciding between a residential, partial hospitalization or outpatient program, it’s important to understand your needs to determine which level of care is right for you.

In most cases, the best way to do that is with a comprehensive evaluation. During the intake process at Choice House, our admissions and clinical staff will conduct an interview with potential clients to assess their substance abuse history, mental health, underlying core issues, home environment, commitment to getting sober, and more. This gives us a better picture of you as an individual to recommend an appropriate treatment program. For example, while you may prefer an outpatient format so you can live at home, that might not be the best choice depending on the severity of your addiction.

No matter which level of care you end up in, you can expect highly individualized treatment that addresses your issues with drugs or alcohol. Choice House offers a full spectrum of recovery solutions that includes long-term residential treatment, intensive outpatient programming, transitional sober living and rehab for professionals. Each level incorporates proven modalities and aspects of the outdoor therapy we’re known for. With the Rocky Mountains in our backyard, we take advantage of the healing power of nature to help men reconnect with themselves and others in a powerful way.

Don’t let addiction get the best of you. If you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol, Choice House in Boulder, Colorado, can help you get sober and achieve a healthier, happier lifestyle. To learn more about our programs or get in touch with our admissions team, contact or call us today at 303-578-4975.

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