What to Expect from Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs (2023)

A first rehab experience can be intimidating. even if you wantovercome an addiction, you might still be nervous about going to rehab because you don't know what to expect.

Knowing what happens in rehab can give you peace of mind. Here are some of the most common features of rehab programs so that you are better prepared for the experience.

When should I think about rehabilitation?

Once you realize you need help with an addiction, you'll likely consider other options before entering a formal rehab program. Peer support groups, including 12-step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, as well as SMART Recovery or Celebrate Recovery, may be right for you.

A doctor who specializes in anti-addiction medicine can offer help in the form of acute detoxification or prescribe medications to reduce alcohol cravings and prevent relapses to alcohol and other drugs. People who have exhausted these opportunities often have to look for an internship program.

A sign that you need help overcoming your addiction is when your substance use is having a negative impact on many aspects of your life, such as your job,your relationships,your hobbies,your sanityand/or your physical health.

Ask yourself what substance is interfering with your life. Are you withdrawing from activities you used to enjoy? Are you constantly thinking about the next time you might drink or do drugs?

Self-medication with substances.how to drink or take medication to treat symptomsSufferingfromDepression, is another reason to consider rehab.Rehab centers can help you diagnose mental illnesses that may co-occur with your substance use disorder, and often can treat both appropriately.

development of atoleranceor addiction to a substance can be an indicator of addiction. If you can't imagine life without drugs or alcohol, consider rehab as a treatment option to help you break free from substances and get your life back on track.

Symptoms of substance use disorders.

Types of rehabilitation centers

There are different types of rehab centers that you can consider. You don't have to figure out for yourself which one is right for you and your individual circumstances. Typically, a doctor, psychiatrist or social worker and staff at the rehabilitation center will help you make the decision.

  • Long-term hospital treatment: This is a type of rehabilitation that provides round-the-clock care in a nursing home (not a hospital). Stays usually last between six and twelve months.Socializing with employees and other residents is also part of the treatment.group therapysessions, individual therapy sessions, educational programs about mental health, addictions,Nutrition, and more.
  • Short-term hospital treatment: These programs are based on the12-step approach to addiction recovery. Short-term hospital treatment was originally designed for people with reduced mobility.alcohol use disorder, but is now used to treat people with other substance use disorders. These treatments usually last from three to six weeks and are delivered through outpatient therapy and self-help groups (e.g.,Alcoholics Anonymous) Areduce the risk of relapse.
  • outpatient treatment: Outpatient treatment means you live at home and visit a treatment center regularly during the week. You participate in many of the same types of programs that inpatient treatment centers offer (therapy sessions and educational classes), except you don't live in the treatment center.

A typical day at a rehab center

When you are undergoing hospital treatment, your days usually follow a structured schedule. The idea is that consistency (and not having to make so many decisions throughout the day) will help you recover.

Below are some examples of what happens on a typical rehab day. Of course, how your day goes depends on the rehab center and your approach, your addiction and your personal circumstances.

In the morning

In general, you wake up at a certain time every morning. Nurses dispense all medications to those who prescribed them. For example, a doctor at a rehabilitation center can prescribe medication to treatcancellationsymptomsor to treatmental disease.

Breakfast will be served and then you will participate in the first session of the day, as a group therapy.You can pause for thought during the session,dailyor practice any skills you learned during the session.


After lunch you will participate in another session, in the form of individual therapy. You can have free time to choose an activity, e.g. B. Attend a gym session if your rehabilitation center has a gym.physical movementcan help manage mood swings during withdrawal.

Or you attend an educational course. Many rehab centers educate participants about mental health, addiction and/or nutrition. Eating a balanced diet can help you manage the stress of recovery and even everyday life.Stop withdrawal symptoms.

In the afternoon

You'll have dinner and perhaps end the day with another group session to reflect on your progress so far and how you feel about everything that's happened throughout the day. You have time to get ready for bed. In many rehab centers there is often a set “lights out” time, when free time for the day is over and you are encouraged to go to sleep.


When you enter a rehabilitation program for the first time, the staff will usually first ask you for an admission interview to find out more about you. This is an important step in the rehabilitation process, as this information will be used to start fine-tuning your treatment plan.

During an admissions interview, you will answer questions about substance use and lifestyle. These questions can include:

  • In the past 30 days, on how many days did you drink alcohol before drinking alcohol?drunkand/or use illegal drugs ormarihuana?
  • Where did you live most of the time in the last 30 days?
  • In the past 30 days, how stressful were you because of your alcohol or drug use?
  • In the last 30 days, how often did substance use cause you to reduce or stop activity altogether?
  • Have children? Do they live with you? If not, are they living with someone else by court order?
  • Do you study or have a job?
  • Have you been arrested for drug offenses in the last 30 days?
  • How would you rate your overall health?
  • Have you received inpatient or outpatient treatment for a physical illness, mental or emotional disorder, or use of alcohol or other substances in the last 30 days?
  • How satisfied are you with your life and yourself?

Be prepared to answer questions honestly. While it can be difficult to talk about your life, choices and substance use, remember that accurate information will help the team design the program that best fits you and your needs.

Typical length of stay in drug and alcohol rehab is 28-30 days, 60 days, or 90 days. While treatment for any length of time is helpful, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that people spend at least 90 days in treatment.

The detox process

After the initial assessment, you will go through the detoxification process. Detoxification is the process of removing drugs or alcohol from the body after prolonged use. While this can be a difficult process for some, it is important to cleanse your body of these substances so that you are physically and mentally prepared for the rehabilitation work ahead.

If you suddenly stop using a substance with a high addictive potential (for example,Heroin, morphine,Benzodiazepina, ohAlcohol), you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. In many cases, medications may be given to ease the withdrawal symptoms associated with these medications.


Depending on your needs and the rehabilitation program you are in, different types of therapies are used during the recovery process.

Terapia individual

You will work in individual sessions with a psychologist. During these sessions, you honestly analyze yourself, your addiction and the impact it has had on your life. This personal education can be a powerful way to help you heal. Your therapist will also help you identify your problem.dependency triggers. Once you identify these, the therapist will show you how to address them constructively.

An addiction specialist will tailor the right types of therapy to your individual needs. Therapy can take many forms, but research suggests that behavioral therapies are the most effective in treating addiction.Two of the most common behavioral therapies used in this setting are:cognitive behavioral therapySmotivational interview.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapyhelps you understand the underlying beliefs and behaviors that contribute to substance use. also teaches youhealthy coping mechanismsfor use during recovery.
  • motivational interviewis a technique in which a counselor or therapist asks questions such as "Why do you want to stop drinking?" or "How has substance use affected your life?" The aim is to resolve the ambivalence that many people feel when they want to change something but fear they are not ready for it. Motivational interviewing can help you solidify your goal to stop using substances and renew your motivation to do so successfully.

family counseling

Research has shown that involving family and friends in the recovery process significantly improves rehabilitation outcomes.For this reason, many addiction rehab centers offer family therapy as part of their programs.

Family members are often seriously affected by the addictive behavior of their loved ones.family counselingit is a safe place for everyone to share their experiences and for family members to learn how they may have enabled or contributed to their addiction. Acknowledging and processing these complicated and sometimes painful emotions can promote healing and further growth.

In family counseling, your family members will also learn about the dynamics of an addiction and how they can better support you after you come out of rehab.

Many programs involve family and friends throughout the rehabilitation process, from initial assessment to aftercare. Others require the participation of family members.Al-AnonGet together if they wish to visit you during treatment.

group therapy

Group therapy is the basis of many rehabilitation centers. Group members, led by a therapist, discuss their progress, challenges, and experiences in addiction recovery. Some groups focus on specific stages of recovery (e.g., abstinence or relapse prevention), while others support people with mental health issues (e.g.,social anxiety disorderor difficultycontrol anger).

There are often recovery groups that provide safe spaces for people of specific genders, ages and cultural backgrounds. Some rehabilitation centers offerLGBTQ+Groups or groups for those who have been there beforeblocked.

Many of the same techniques used in individual therapy are used in group therapy, such as: B. Psychoeducation, motivational interviewing and skills development.

Group therapy is associated with positive outcomes for addiction recovery due to the social support it provides. Members benefit from sharing their experiences, hearing other people's stories, bonding and supporting each other.

aftercare planning

Toward the end of your stay in a rehabilitation center, you and your counselor will develop a Continuing Care Plan (aka)postoperative), based on your progress so far. Follow-up care can significantly reduce drug and alcohol relapse rates.This makes it an extremely important part of your treatment.

Your plan will likely include medical and social support services. May include temporary housing (such assober room), counseling and follow-up therapy, medical screenings, alumni support groups, and other lifestyle changes to help you proactively deal with real-world triggers that could otherwise set you off.relapse.

Press play for recovery instructions.

This episode is hosted by therapist Amy Morin, LCSW.The Verywell Mind Podcast, with addiction expert Erica Spiegelman, shares skills that help with recovery. Click below to listen now.

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Your rights as a patient

The US health care system provides rights to rehab patients that are important to know if you or a loved one is in an addiction recovery program. These rights include:

  • The right to access your medical records
  • The right to participate in your care (make decisions about your care and refuse care if you are not a minor)
  • The right toconsent form(Being informed about the benefits and risks of a treatment and accepting the treatment before administering it)
  • The right to equal treatment, free from discrimination or any form of patient abuse (physical, mental, sexual or otherwise)

As part of these rights, the patient is also protected from cruel treatment, such as unnecessary restraint or isolation.

While you have the right to make informed decisions about your own care, you can designate someone else to make decisions about your care if necessary.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, contact theSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline.em1-800-662-4357Information about support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, visit ourNational helpline database.

A few words from Verywell

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, it is important that you seek help. It's natural to feel intimidated or scared. But remember, rehab is designed to help you achieve a lasting recovery. If you are considering rehab as an option, you can take the first step by talking to a doctor, therapist, counselor or social worker, or by calling a community or rehabilitation center for more information.

Find the addiction recovery program that's right for you


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