Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) were treatment programs originally developed to help people struggling with mental illness. Initially called “day hospitals,” these programs were designed in the 1960s to help those who needed an intensive level of psychiatric care but who would also benefit from living in the larger community as well as those who had stable, safe home lives to return to after a full day of treatment ended.
After changes to Medicaid laws in the 1980s, Partial Hospitalization options expanded rapidly, until financial restrictions were placed on them in the late 1990s. As the idea that addiction is a mental and behavioral illness with biological roots, rather than an issue of willpower, took hold, PHPs began to develop for people struggling with substance abuse issues.
PHPs still exist primarily to work with individuals who struggle with mental illness, but many subsets of these programs across the country exist as an in-between, or even outpatient, method of helping people who want to overcome substance addiction and abuse. These programs come in many ranges of options, from flexible outpatient to full-day intensive programs, but they have several core tenets in common. The most important common factor among all PHPs is the desire to find a way to prevent people overcoming substance use from becoming a patient in a hospital.