A partial hospitalization program offers a middle ground between inpatient and outpatient rehab. You access more services than you do with most outpatient programs, but you don’t live at the facility. You stay at home at night and go to treatment during the day.

If you’re trying to figure out the best type of rehab for you or a loved one, you may be curious about this option. Here is what you need to know.

How Do Partial Hospitalization Programs Work?

Typically, these programs include intensive addiction treatment services. You go to a hospital or clinic several times a week for several hours a day. Some programs are three days per week, while others happen everyday. Then, in the evening, you return home.

Depending on your schedule, you may be able to continue working, taking classes, and dealing with other responsibilities as you get treatment.

In this type of program, you receive counseling. You may attend educational classes about addiction. You learn about addictive patterns, and you explore new coping strategies. You learn how to live without drugs or alcohol. You may also meet with support groups or attend family therapy.

What Is the Difference Between Outpatient Rehab and Partial Hospitalization?

Outpatient treatment includes many of these same elements. But a partial hospitalization program brings together these services. You get an organized approach to your care. A coordinator oversees your care and ensures you get all the services you need.

Do These Programs Treat Mental Health Issues?

Nearly half of people who are addicted to alcohol have a mental illness. Sadly, mental illness also increases the risk of drug addiction. These programs also offer help for mental illness. If you are struggling with depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, or other issues, you can get help.

Often, people turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with the symptoms of these disorders. They may not know they have a mental illness. They may not know about other ways to cope. If you have made these decisions, you are not alone. For rehab to be successful, you need to get help for underlying issues as well.

Who Should Consider Partial Hospitalization Programs?

Wondering if partial hospitalization is right for you? When you decide that you want to get help for drug or alcohol abuse, you have a lot of options. There are many different programs, types of therapy, support groups, and treatment options. If any of the following are true, you may want to consider partial hospitalization:

  • You need more help than you can get from outpatient services. 
  • You want to take a dedicated approach to addiction treatment. 
  • You don’t have time to go to inpatient rehab. Your responsibilities prevent you from going to inpatient treatment. 
  • Your insurance doesn’t cover inpatient rehab. 
  • You are transitioning from inpatient to outpatient care.
  • You are trying to avoid hospitalization. 
  • The courts give you this option, instead of jail or mandatory inpatient rehab. 
  • Your insurance covers partial hospitalization programs.

What to Look for When Choosing a Program?

Leaning toward a partial hospitalization program? Wondering which program to choose? When making your choice, look for the following essentials:

  • Relatively close to home so you can avoid a long commute.
  • Mental health services or help with other conditions as needed.
  • Support groups to help with your recovery.
  • Specialized therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
  • Holistic therapies such as yoga, massage, art therapy, or others.
  • Help with relapse prevention.
  • Vocational skills or retraining. Some industries have higher rates of drug abuse. You may need help making a career change.
  • Recreational activities. Learning new hobbies and activities can help improve your recovery.
  • A case manager to coordinate your care.

Do These Programs Include Homework?

Some partial hospitalization programs assign homework. These assignments allow you to continue your care in the evening. They provide you with actionable tools to use during your journey toward sobriety.

Homework may include the following:

  • Practicing opposite action. When you have an emotion, you sit with the feeling. But you don’t act on it. Instead, you practice an opposite action. For example, if you feel bored, you acknowledge the feeling. Then, you do something to fight boredom. If you feel anxiety, you take steps to calm yourself down naturally.
  • Meditating. Meditating lets your mind go blank. This activity can be very calming. It lowers your stress levels. It helps you become more aware of your emotions, without yielding to them or muting them with drugs or alcohol.
  • Evaluating your goals. Addition treatment takes a lot of dedication. You may want to think about your goals and values.
  • Practicing assertive communication. Some people turn to drugs and alcohol because they don’t know how to communicate about their feelings. They push their feelings down and cover them with substances. Other times, people relapse because they don’t know how to ask for help. Your treatment may help you learn how to communicate assertively. You learn how to express your feelings, while still being respectful of others’ boundaries.

Don’t be afraid of homework. Welcome these opportunities to practice living without drugs or alcohol. These assignments can help make your treatment more successful.

How Long Do Partial Hospitalization Programs Last?

During the day, these programs last less than 24 hours, and they range from a few hours to all day long. The length varies based on the clinic and your personal needs. Some programs are just a few weeks long, but others last for months. On average, you should expect to spend about a month in a partial hospitalization program.

To learn more, talk with an addiction counselor. Or, reach out to a treatment center in your local area. They can tell you about the pros and cons of partial hospitalization programs and help you decide if this type of program is right for you. If you aren’t sure where to call or are unfamiliar with treatment centers in your area, search through our directory to find a treatment center near you.


  1. Feeling an urge and then doing an “Opposite action”.
  2. Links between addiction and mental illness. (n.d.). 
  3. Mindfulness meditation & addiction.
  4. Partial hospitalization coverage. (n.d.). What to expect from a mental health partial hospitalization program.

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