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What is Drug Rehab Like?

Drug Rehab

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? Unfortunately, there isn’t a concrete way to describe all of rehab because each program is slightly different that the others and each person’s interaction with those rehab programs is unique. However, there are some general components that are fairly constant.

Inpatient and 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.

If you are interested in finding out more about inpatient rehab and the role it could play in your recovery, call 888-805-3559 Who Answers? .

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.


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.

How Long Does Drug Rehab Take?


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.

You will likely engage in one-on-one counseling and therapy session as well. These will challenge you to identify contributing factors to your drugs abuse and assist you in correcting them. You will build a rapport with your therapist and work toward a common goal.

Some programs will invite your family members or your partner to attend therapy with you. Together, you will examine the dynamic of your family unit, assess the damage done by the drug addiction, and work to create a healthier way of relating to one another. These sessions can be a great way to begin rebuilding relationships damaged by addiction.

If you attend a high-end residential treatment program, you may have access to specialized therapy that you won’t encounter in other settings. Often, expressive therapies, like art, music, drama, and dance therapy are offered. Some facilities use pet or equine therapy. Others offer recreational therapies, like water therapy. It is also common for luxury centers to use a lot of holistic therapies and treatment more closely associated with alternative medicine. So, if you were admitted to one of these programs, this is what drug rehab would be like.

Hard Work

Regardless of the type of rehab or the therapies offered, it will take perseverance and dedication to make it through drug rehab. So, in asking what it is like, it is important to acknowledge that it is one of the hardest things that many people do in their lives. But, that shouldn’t scare you because people achieve sobriety every day in these programs and go on to maintain their recovery and you can too.

The effectiveness of drug rehab depends upon you remaining engaged in the program and staying in treatment for the entire duration of the program. Therefore, you need to completely commit to the process; let go of all doubts. Each day will present new challenges and you will make it through them. You will conquer your discomfort during detox. You will surmount your cravings. You will control your self-doubt and manifest courage. Every single day will bring you a new success and a new challenge and that is true no matter what type of rehab you attend.

To learn more about rehab programs that meet your needs, call 888-805-3559 Who Answers? . By researching specific rehabs, you can get a better understanding of what their programs are like.

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: ARK Behavioral Health, 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.

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