The continuum of care levels exist to support patients through every phase of their recovery.

One form of treatment that falls within the continuum of care is partial hospitalization programs. These programs are for individuals who require structure and consistent support in their recovery but do not require 24-hour care or supervision, and it’s an essential step for many.

The continuum of care can be used for many different illnesses, disorders and conditions, but today we’re going to focus specifically on addiction recovery. We’re also going to discuss where partial hospitalization programs fit into the continuum of care when applying ASAM criteria.

What is the continuum of care?

“Continuum of care” refers to the ongoing delivery of healthcare services to an individual over an extended amount of time. It is the continuous provision of support and treatment to patients throughout their recovery, from preventative care to independent, safe and healthy living.

The full spectrum of continuum of care includes preventative care, primary care, specialty care, acute care, post-acute care and long-term care. The purpose of these different levels of care is to ensure that each person is constantly receiving the best, safest, most effective treatment so they can achieve a successful, long-term recovery.

One of the most effective ways for healthcare providers to determine the appropriate level of care and the best type of treatment for patients is to reference the ASAM levels of care.

What are the ASAM levels of care?

The ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine) levels of care is a framework used to assist clinicians, physicians and other healthcare providers in offering the highest quality of care to their patients.

There are five levels, all of which revolve around practices such as—considering the person as a whole (rather than simply isolating their symptoms), fully tailoring treatment plans to the individual and providing a wide spectrum of services to best assist in their healing.

This multidimensional approach takes into consideration all elements of a person’s livelihood including—their needs, strengths, vulnerabilities, level of social support, living situation and more. This is commonly referred to collectively as the ASAM criteria.

Whenever a healthcare provider is trying to decide where a patient should be placed in the treatment process and how their continuum of care will look, the ASAM criteria is a great place to start.

It’s largely through the utilization of the ASAM criteria that enables healthcare providers to recognize when partial hospitalization is the right next step in their patient’s recovery journey.

What is a partial hospitalization program?

A partial hospitalization program (PHP) is generally considered to be “level two” of the ASAM levels of care. At this level, patients are receiving structured treatment, typically for at least a few hours per day. 

Once their daily sessions are done, patients are free to return to their personal residence at the end of every day and sleep at home. PHPs require more time than a part-time program (despite “partial” being in the name, these programs are usually around 40 hours per week), but are not as intensive as 24-hour residential treatment and supervision.

Where do PHPs fall in the continuum of care?

Because hospitalization programs exist as the middle-ground treatment between low-intensive programs and high-intensive programs, they usually fall right in the middle of the continuum of care sequence. 

PHP is best suited for people who:

  • Received treatment but didn’t maintain long-term positive change
  • Benefit from receiving structure, but don’t require constant supervision
  • Want to (and are able to) maintain the rest of their life through treatment
  • Are not a danger to themselves or others
  • Are self-motivated to make a lasting change

Taking the next step in recovery can sometimes feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. 

If you’re ready to talk, we’re ready to listen.

Speak with an advisor today

Real Recovery offers evidence-based services for substance use and mental health disorders. Through our comprehensive addiction rehabilitation and mental health treatment, you’ll be given the tools to not only achieve sobriety once, but maintain it despite life’s challenges that arise.

Send us a message or give us a call today to speak with one of our compassionate advisors to learn more about what your recovery options are, and how to determine the best one for you.