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Are Medications Prescribed at PHP for Substance Abuse Recovery?

A partial hospitalization program, also called PHP, is a high level of care in addiction treatment that falls under the category of intensive outpatient treatment. However, it’s the most intensive level in this category. If you’re in PHP, you will most likely attend treatment services with a schedule that’s similar to a full-time job. You may spend four to five days each week and around eight hours of treatment services every day, typically totaling at least 20 hours per week. 

PHP is for people who may have what clinicians call multidimensional instability, which means they will have high-level medical, psychological, or social needs that require a higher level of care. However, if PHP is right for you, your high-level needs still won’t require 24 hours of care. To adequately address your needs, you will need several hours of daily care, but you are stable enough to live independently. 

PHP is equipped to handle a wide variety of needs, including co-occurring mental disorders. Highly intensive treatment is used to help you avoid relapse or the need to return to hospitalization. But what about prescription medication? If you have medical or psychological health concerns that require a prescription, can you get it in a partial hospitalization program?

Learn more about addiction treatment, partial hospitalization, and how you can go about getting the medical prescriptions you need in PHP.

Where Do I Get Prescriptions?

People in PHP may have ongoing psychological or medical conditions that require treatment with prescription medications. If you have a standing prescription that was given to you by your doctor, by a hospital, or in a detox program, you can continue to fill and take those prescriptions in a PHP program. However, it’s vital that PHP practitioners who help you are aware of any medications you are taking. The continuum of care depends on the fact that the medical professionals and clinicians on your team are aware of your treatment plan and the methods that have been tried and currently are being administered. However, treatment centers that are certified and accredited can keep your information secure, sharing it only with the right professionals with your permission. 

You may enter a treatment program after going through other levels of care like a medical detox program or an inpatient program. If you are coming from other levels of care, you may already have prescriptions you are taking, in which case, the staff at your partial hospitalization program will be able to help you manage your medication as you go through other treatment.

However, as you progress through PHP, you may run into complications that require your prescriptions to be altered or changed. Throughout addiction treatment, it’s important for your treatment plan to be adaptable. Effective treatment is tailored to your needs, but it must also be regularly reevaluated, typically every week. If your plan isn’t as effective as it should be, you may require it to be altered.

The same principle applies to prescription medications. If you run into medical or psychological needs that can be aided by medication, your treatment program should be able to provide it. Partial hospitalization programs will have a doctor or an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) on staff that’s ready to respond to your needs. For instance, if you’ve had trouble getting a healthy amount of sleep because of insomnia, a medical professional can prescribe sleep aids to help you get some rest. 

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What If I Need Medication for Mental Health?

It’s common for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression to come with substance use disorders. Your personalized treatment plan will be able to address mental health problems with a variety of therapy options. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a mainstay in addiction treatment, and it’s also useful in treating mental health problems including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, some mental illnesses may require treatment with prescription medications, especially mental health issues like schizophrenia. 

In such cases, you will be able to receive medications while in a partial hospitalization program. In general, addiction treatment should be a holistic process with a variety of evidence-based approaches including both psychotherapy and medication. While you take medication for mental health conditions, you may also benefit from psychotherapies designed to treat both your substance use disorder and mental health problems. 

Do PHPs Offer MAT?

MAT, or medication-assisted treatment, is a form of addiction treatment that involves the use of prescription medications that are designed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The most common form of MAT is the use of specific opioid medications to treat opioid addiction. These opioids like buprenorphine are used because they can bind to receptors and effectively prevent withdrawal, while not causing intoxication or euphoria. The purpose of MAT is to help people who struggle with a substance use disorder escape active addiction and live a productive life. It also helps people start addiction treatment without going through painful withdrawal, which is a common barrier to recovery. 

However, MAT will be used alongside the full continuum of care in addiction treatment. That means you can go through a partial hospitalization program while you’re in an MAT program. Even though you can avoid withdrawal, you may have multidimensional, high-level needs that make PHP necessary. 

In that case, your MAT program will also include services at the PHP level of care. In PHP, you will continue to receive the medications that are necessary for your MAT program. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “medications are an important element of treatment for many patients.” Therefore, your MAT program most likely can connect you with PHP when you need it. 

Can I Detox at a PHP?

Partial hospitalization is designed for people who have multidimensional needs that require intensive treatment but don’t require 24-hour care every week. If you have recently stopped using an addictive substance or if you are currently using one, you will most likely need 24-hour care through the detoxification process. 

PHP involves intensive treatment and therapy options, but clients in PHP go home at the end of the day. If you are going through extremely uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, you should have 24-hour care. 

If you complete a detox program and you still have longer-lasting discomforts, you may be able to enter a PHP level of care while receiving medications to help alleviate symptoms.

Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, January). Principles of Effective Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment

SAMHSA. (2015, July 21). Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment

What's a Nurse Practitioner (NP)? (n.d.). What's a Nurse Practitioner (NP)? Retrieved from https://www.aanp.org/about/all-about-nps/whats-a-nurse-practitioner

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