Signing up for drug addiction treatment is particularly overwhelming when you don’t have any idea what rehab is like. How can you commit yourself to something that is certainly difficult but also a complete unknown? Understanding what to expect can alleviate some of the anxiety and prepare you for the journey ahead. Drug rehab involves a comprehensive process designed to address not only the physical aspects of addiction but also the psychological groundwork. From initial intake through various therapeutic methods, here’s a closer look at what the experience entails.


The first stage of any drug rehab is intake. During this time, you will be given a comprehensive evaluation. You will be screened for drugs and the concentration of those drugs in your bloodstream will be measured to ensure that you are treated appropriately during detox. A series of questionnaires will be used to determine your psychological, medical, and social situation. This information will be used to decide which treatment interventions are most appropriate to your needs. You will also undergo a physical and mental screening designed to identify any co-occurring conditions you are dealing with on top of addiction.


After intake, most patients will go through a period of detox. During this time, the drugs will work their way out of your system, causing withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, the symptoms will be quite mild, in others they can be intensely painful. The staff will make every effort to alleviate your discomfort and to keep you medically safe and stable. This may involve medication. Depending upon the drugs being used, the amounts being used, and the duration of use, detox may take as little as a couple of days or as long as a week.

Therapy and Counseling

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment rely heavily upon the use of counseling and therapy. You will certainly participate in group therapy, which gives you a safe space to practice social skills, helps you remain accountable, gives you motivation by demonstrating successes, and build a community of peers. There are various types of therapy sessions including:

  • Individual Therapy: One-on-one sessions with a therapist to explore the root causes of addiction, develop coping strategies, and set recovery goals.
  • Group Therapy: Peer support sessions where individuals share experiences and learn from each other under the guidance of a therapist.
  • Family Therapy: Sessions that involve family members to repair relationships affected by addiction and improve the home environment for recovery.

Holistic Therapies

Some rehabs provide holistic therapies. Incorporating holistic practices such as yoga, meditation, and art therapy, rehab programs aim to heal the entire person, promoting stress reduction and healthy coping skills conducive to long-term recovery.

Structured Days

A typical day in drug rehab is often carefully structured, balancing therapy sessions, educational workshops, and holistic practices with periods for personal reflection and communal activities. Depending on the type of rehab structure, days can vary.

Inpatient vs Outpatient Treatment

When describing what drug rehab is like, the biggest variance will be between inpatient and outpatient programs. In an inpatient rehab program, patients agree to reside at the facility for the duration of treatment. That means you sleep there and eat there and get treated there. Outpatient rehab programs, on the other hand, only require patients to enter the facility for scheduled, structured treatment activities. So, obviously what inpatient drug rehab is like is different than what outpatient drug rehab is like.

A Day in Inpatient Treatment

Rehab days begin early, so there isn’t any time for sleeping in. Patients are required to rise early, get ready for the day, and eat breakfast before they enter their first activity of the day. Typically, days begin with a group therapy encounter or support group meeting.

Afternoons are marked by more intensive therapy session, which includes group, individual, and family style sessions. During this time, patients are asked to examine the attitudes and beliefs that have led to their drug using behavior and to change them in order to begin new, healthy ways of behaving. Lunch is also provided during the afternoon.

Evenings are marked by dinner and support group meetings. Often there is also free time, during which people read or journal or socialize with other patients. Inpatient rehab does not typically provide a lot of downtimes. Lights out comes early as well.

A Day in Outpatient Rehab

Because outpatient participants don’t live at the facility, they can spend their time in multiple ways when they are not being treated. Early in an inpatient program, patients may be required to spend a considerable amount of time in treatment and that eases up over time. The time spent in rehab depends entirely on the type of treatment being held that day.

Rehab Aftercare

After completing the initial rehab program, the journey to recovery continues with aftercare planning. Rehab aftercare, or continuing care, is designed to support the transition back into daily life while maintaining sobriety. Rehab aftercare can include various elements such as ongoing counseling, support groups, and sober living homes.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: Rehab Media Group, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.