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What Rehab Is Like: Drug and Alcohol Rehab

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Embarking on the path to recovery from drug or alcohol addiction can be both challenging and rewarding. Entering rehab is a vital step in the journey, providing a structured and supportive environment where individuals can focus on overcoming their addiction. But what rehab is like? This blog post offers insights into the daily routines, treatment modalities, and support systems that can help patients regain control of their lives and maintain long-term sobriety.

By understanding the different stages of rehab, from detoxification to aftercare planning, you can be better prepared to make the most of your time in a treatment facility. Let’s dive into the world of drug and alcohol rehab and explore the various aspects that contribute to a successful recovery, and learn what rehab is like.

Key Takeaways

  • Rehab involves intake interviews to customize treatment plans, detoxification and medically monitored elimination of drugs or alcohol.
  • Morning routines involve physical activities, prayer opportunities and group therapy sessions related to addiction recovery. Afternoon activities encompass therapeutic, recreational & educational sessions while evening sessions provide reflection & meditation opportunities.
  • Length of stay varies with both inpatient/outpatient programs available, aftercare provides support services for long term sobriety, patients are entitled to informed decision making and protection from mistreatment.

Entering Rehab: The Initial Steps

An image showing the inside of a rehab facility, giving an idea of what rehab is like for those entering for the first time.

Upon entering a drug and alcohol rehab facility, the intake interview is conducted by staff members to gather information about the patient’s substance abuse and lifestyle. This interview plays a pivotal role in customizing the patient’s treatment plan to their specific addiction, which serves to address their unique needs throughout the recovery process.

The orientation phase includes:

  • An introduction to basic addiction treatment concepts, goals, patient rights, responsibilities, and confidentiality laws.
  • Rehabilitation facilities offer a range of treatment options, including inpatient and outpatient programs, support groups, and family therapy sessions.
  • Rehabilitation aims to guide individuals towards a substance-free life and empower them to regain control over their lives.
  • Inpatient rehab facilities, in particular, provide a structured environment where patients receive round-the-clock care and support during their recovery journey.

Detoxification: Clearing the Body

A person undergoing medical detox to clear their body of drugs and alcohol

Detoxification, also known as drug and alcohol detox, is the process of eliminating drugs or alcohol from the body after extended use, often as a result of alcohol abuse. In inpatient rehab programs, detox begins with a 24-hour medically monitored period, sometimes extending further depending on the patient’s circumstances. Withdrawal symptoms can be physically and psychologically challenging, and attempting alcohol withdrawal alone is not recommended.

Medical professionals in rehab centers provide medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and monitor patients for severe withdrawal reactions, such as Delirium Tremens (DTs), which can be potentially fatal. Addiction treatment strives to help patients achieve a balanced and content life, which underlines the importance of medically supervised detox in the recovery process.

A Day in the Life at Rehab

A person attending a group therapy session in a rehab center

While daily routines in rehab facilities may vary depending on the center and the patient’s personal circumstances, most treatment programs provide structured and organized activities and therapies to support the recovery process.

Let’s explore the typical day in rehab, broken down into morning routines, afternoon activities, and evening sessions.

Morning Routines

Mornings in rehab typically start with an early wake-up, followed by a nutritious breakfast, and often include activities such as:

  • yoga
  • meditation
  • exercise
  • prayer opportunities

These activities aim to instill a sense of calm and focus for the day. In order to make the most out of a rehab it’s important for patients to establish healthy habits in rehab, which will aid them in incorporating beneficial routines into their life post-treatment.

Group therapy sessions in the morning often focus on topics related to:

  • the treatment process
  • the 12-step program
  • addiction
  • recovery

These sessions provide a supportive environment for patients to share their experiences, learn from others, and develop new coping strategies for lasting recovery.

Afternoon Activities

After a nutritious lunch, a series of therapeutic sessions typically begin in rehab facilities. Individual therapy sessions may address issues such as:

  • anger management
  • stress management
  • trauma experiences
  • grief counseling

These sessions, provided by mental health services administration, offer techniques to help patients manage their challenges in a controlled manner without resorting to substance use, addressing the underlying substance use disorder.

Recreational activities, such as sports, art, or fitness activities, are also offered in rehab centers to promote physical health and emotional well-being. Additionally, educational courses on mental health, addiction, and nutrition further support patients in their recovery journey and help them develop a comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing their substance use.

Evening Sessions

As the day winds down, dinner is served in the rehab facility, providing patients with another opportunity to nourish their bodies and connect with their peers. Evening sessions often include:

  • Group reflection activities
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Group therapy

These activities encourage patients to process their experiences and engage in relaxation techniques.

These evening activities also serve to prepare patients for a healthy sleep schedule, emphasizing the role of rest and self-care in the recovery process. By fostering a sense of routine and balance, rehab centers support patients in developing the habits and coping strategies necessary for long-term sobriety.

Treatment Modalities and Therapies

A person talking to a therapist about their substance use disorder

A variety of therapies are available in alcohol rehab treatment settings to address the diverse needs of patients recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Group therapy, for example, is a fundamental component of many rehabilitation centers, allowing patients to share their progress, struggles, and experiences with addiction recovery under the guidance of a therapist.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  (CBT) is another most commonly used for of therapy for patients in addiction recovery as it helps them rewire their behaviors and develop healthier coping mechanisms.
In a research study about helping people who are addicted to cocaine, scientists found that 60% of the patients who received CBT had passed drug tests without any cocaine in their system when they were checked 52 weeks later.

Family counseling is another essential aspect of rehab, offering a secure environment for all family members to express their experiences and learn how they may have facilitated or contributed to the patient’s addiction. By involving family members or spouses in therapy sessions, patients can build a solid support system and strengthen their relationships, ultimately contributing to a successful and lasting recovery.

Length of Stay and Program Options

A person attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting as part of their aftercare plan

The length of stay in rehab facilities depends on various factors, such as the individual’s circumstances and clinical objectives. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends a minimum of 90 days for drug and alcohol rehabilitation. However, in cases where a patient faces more complex recovery issues, the treatment team may suggest an long term alcohol rehab to adequately address these challenges.

Rehab facilities offer different program options, including inpatient and outpatient treatments. Inpatient rehab facility provides residential treatment programs with round-the-clock care and support, while outpatient programs cater to individuals who are medically stable but lack resources for detox. Selecting the most appropriate program depends on the patient’s unique needs and circumstances.

Aftercare and Ongoing Support

A person talking to a support group about their recovery process

Aftercare planning is integral to sustaining long-term recovery, offering a support system and resources to assist individuals in maintaining abstinence. Support services may include connections with program graduates, motivational and coping strategies, and community-based support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.

“Active engagement in peer support groups has shown to be a key predictor of recovery and sustaining recovery.” (Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addiction, Tracy, Wallace, 2016)

Transitional housing options and lifestyle modifications also play a significant role in sustaining sobriety post-treatment. By focusing on building a strong support network and adopting healthy habits, patients can continue their recovery journey and develop the resilience needed to face challenges without resorting to substance use.

Patient Rights and Responsibilities

A person talking to a medical professional about their physical health

Patients in rehab facilities have the right to informed decision-making, protection from mistreatment, and the ability to appoint designated decision-makers for their care. Rehab facilities are responsible for ensuring that patients receive the necessary information to make informed choices and are safeguarded from any form of inhumane treatment, such as unnecessary restraint or seclusion.

Recognizing and respecting patient rights and responsibilities forms the basis for creating a supportive and nurturing environment conducive to individuals focusing on their recovery journey. By upholding these rights, rehab facilities foster trust and promote a sense of safety and security for patients during their treatment.

Success Factors: Making the Most of Rehab

A person talking to a therapist about their mental health and coping strategies

For patients to fully benefit from rehab, they should:

  • Be open to change
  • Actively participate in therapy
  • Establish a support network
  • Attend to their physical and emotional health

Actively participating in daily therapies and activities, adopting new coping strategies, and forming connections with peers and medical professionals can significantly contribute to lasting recovery.

As the saying goes, “Change is the only constant in life.” Embracing this philosophy and being open to the transformative journey of rehab can empower individuals to overcome addiction and reclaim control of their lives. By focusing on personal growth, self-discovery, and resilience-building, patients can make the most of their time in rehab and lay a strong foundation for long-term recovery.

What Rehab Is Like: Drug And Alcohol Rehab


Rehabilitation from drug or alcohol addiction is a multi-faceted journey that requires commitment, support, and the development of new habits and coping strategies. From the initial intake interview to the aftercare planning, each stage of the rehab process plays a vital role in helping individuals overcome addiction and achieve lasting recovery.

By understanding the different aspects of rehab, from daily routines to treatment modalities and patient rights, individuals can be better prepared to make the most of their time in a treatment facility. Embracing change, engaging in therapy, building a support network, and focusing on physical and emotional health are all essential components of a successful recovery journey. Remember, the path to long-term sobriety is a marathon, not a sprint, and each step forward brings you closer to regaining control of your life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process?

The most difficult part of the rehabilitation process is often said to be detox, as it can involve uncomfortable and dangerous physical and psychological symptoms.

Detox can be a difficult and uncomfortable process, but it is an important step in the rehabilitation process. It is important to remember that detox is only the first step in the process, and that there is still a long road ahead.

What are the five steps to rehab?

The five steps to rehab include: assessment, detoxification, psychological and therapeutic treatment, rehabilitation, and aftercare.

These steps provide a comprehensive approach to successful addiction recovery.

Is rehab short for rehabilitation?

Yes, rehab is short for rehabilitation – the process of helping someone lead a normal life again after they have been ill, or when they have had a drug or alcohol problem.

Rehabilitation can involve a range of activities, from counselling and therapy to physical exercise and lifestyle changes. It is designed to help the individual develop the skills and strategies they need to cope with their problems and live a healthier, more fulfilling life.

What happens during an intake interview in rehab?

During an intake interview in rehab, staff members will ask questions about a patient’s substance abuse and lifestyle to develop a tailored treatment plan.

This information helps the staff understand the patient’s needs and create a plan that will be most effective for them. The plan may include individual and group counseling, medication, and other therapies.

How long should I stay in rehab for the best chance of recovery?

For the best chance of recovery, it is recommended that you stay in rehab for at least 90 days.

However, your individual needs may require a longer or shorter duration.


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.