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Types Of Addiction Treatment: Detox, Inpatient, PHP, Intensive Outpatient & Aftercare

If you or a loved one has made the decision to seek help for a substance use disorder, congratulations — this is the first step to a new and better life. But as you research treatment options, you may encounter some confusing terms. Detox, inpatient, partial hospitalization program (PHP), IOP, outpatient, aftercare — what do they mean? Is one better than the other? Which one should you do?

This article explains those options. Let’s look at the levels of care available to addicts and alcoholics who want help.

What is drug and alcohol detox?

People who use alcohol and certain drugs regularly over a length of time become physically addicted to them. When they try to stop, they will suffer mild discomfort to severe pain — and in some cases, stopping abruptly is dangerous, even deadly.

Detox is the process of safely separating the patient from those substances. It can happen in two ways:

  • Short-term, medicated, inpatient: You enter an inpatient detox facility for anywhere from 3 to 7 days. A doctor prescribes medication to combat withdrawal symptoms, and nurses and healthcare techs closely monitor you to make sure your detox is safe. If you go this route, you’ll first go to detox first, and once detoxed safely and completely, then you can continue with any of the other treatments highlighted in this article.
  • Long-term, medicated, outpatient: If you are using opiates, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be a good detox option. Under the care of a physician, you’ll stop taking your drug of choice and begin taking a synthetic opiate — usually methadone or buprenorphine — as a substitute. You can wean off the maintenance medication over several days or even a few weeks. If you go through an MAT program, in most cases you’ll do it concurrently with a treatment program highlighted below.

What is inpatient treatment?

In inpatient (or “residential”) treatment, the client enters a facility for what’s usually a 28-day program (but longer programs exist). They live there for the duration of the program. When someone talks about going “away” to rehab, this is the type of treatment they’re talking about.

In inpatient treatment, you’ll participate in:

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Classes to learn coping mechanisms and life skills
  • Relapse prevention and drug education classes

Most facilities will offer some type of recreation therapy, such as yoga or art therapy. Family counseling and participation in 12-step groups are usually part of inpatient treatment as well.

Good to know:

  • In most cases, going away to a structured program is a positive thing. Early recovery is tough, and while you can’t shield yourself from alcohol and drugs forever, it’s helpful in the beginning.
  • You’ll need to take a leave of absence from work and arrange for childcare if you have children.

What is a partial hospitalization program (PHP)?

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is the most intense level of non-inpatient treatment. Patients either live at home and commute to the facility or attend the program in tandem with a sober living home. Treatment is full-time; in Cornerstone Healing Center’s PHP program, male clients participate in intensive addiction treatment 5 days a week, 7 hours a day. PHP lasts 45 to 60 days and in some cases, up to 90 days.

There are two prominent features of a PHP that make it a good choice for those seeking addiction treatment:

  • Focus on intense healing of past trauma. Through a combination of group, individual and family therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, you have a chance to heal the emotional wounds that can contribute to addictive behavior.
  • Focus on learning sober living skills. PHP is an immersive experience in which you’ll develop the life skills needed to succeed in the real sober world. You’re expected to make your own bed, do chores, be accountable to housemates, learn nutrition and meal prep, acclimate to regular exercise, attend 12-step meetings, get a sponsor and work the steps — all things that are important to do when you’re on your own.

What is intensive outpatient treatment (aka ‘IOP’)?

Intensive outpatient treatment (usually shortened to “IOP” and also known as “partial hospitalization”) is similar to inpatient treatment, except you don’t live at the treatment facility. You live at home and commute to treatment several days a week. You’ll do most if not all of the same things (classes, therapies, etc.) you’d do in residential treatment.

Good to know:

  • If your home environment is stable and supportive, this may be a good option for you.
  • IOP is less expensive than inpatient treatment, so if cost is a factor, this would be preferable.

What is standard outpatient treatment?

Not everyone with a substance use disorder is in a position to enter inpatient or intensive outpatient treatment. In those cases, standard outpatient treatment may be the answer.

Standard outpatient treatment is set up to accommodate work and parenting responsibilities. It usually involves 1-3 counseling sessions per week, which may be a combination of one-on-one and group therapy.

Good to know:

  • In severe/chronic cases, this type of treatment probably isn’t your best bet. You may need a level of care with more structure and support.
  • This is the least expensive of all the treatment options discussed here.

What is aftercare?

This is just what it sounds like — additional support after you’ve completed treatment, designed to help you maintain your sobriety. Aftercare often consists of alumni meetings, recovery coaching, and ongoing individual or EMDR sessions as needed.  This gives you the opportunity to “check in” with counselors and your sober peers and continue to build on the work you’ve done so far. All inpatient and IOP programs should offer aftercare.

Get Addiction Treatment at Cornerstone Healing Center

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, contact Cornerstone Healing Center to learn how we can help. We offer a variety of treatment programs to meet your needs and get you on the path to a healthy and happy life. Reach out today: 800-480-1781. A beautiful new life awaits you, and we can help.

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