How Do Rehabs Work For Drug, Alcohol, and Other Addictions

When thinking about treating oneself for drug or alcohol abuse or addiction, one main question that pops up for some people is how do rehabs work?

What kind of facilities, services do addiction treatment centers provide? Should I check into inpatient or outpatient rehab centers near me or not? The cost of rehabilitation programs? And what can be expected from rehab centers?

You are investing your time, effort, and money and as such, you should receive positive results from it.

And part of making sure that you are receiving the best result you need is to understand the above questions.

In this article, we will be going over how addiction rehabs work for substance abuse problems such as alcohol and drugs.

What is addiction rehabilitation?

One of the best options available to help one to recover from drug addiction is to approach a drug rehabilitation center.

Addiction rehabilitation is a process that includes four phases that, if undertaken with great care, will help an individual to become completely addiction free.

Addiction rehabilitation is performed in rehab centers with different therapies and detoxification processes.

All these therapies are carried out in a standard framework. Most of the addiction rehabilitation is performed in in-patient treatment centers.

The reason is that a typical day at rehab is organized and structured. They provide a supportive environment, minimize stress, provide safe treatment, affordable amenities, and aim to re-establish the patient’s more normal life.

The phases of addiction rehabilitation are as follows.

  • Assessment

An expert team of doctors conducts a thorough check-up to make a detailed, personalized plan of treatment for the individual.

  • Detoxification

This a compulsory process for individuals who are suffering from serious drug addiction. The patient’s body is cleared of all harmful drugs. It is to be carried out under proper and expert doctor’s guidance.

  • Rehabilitation

Detoxification is just the beginning. In this phase, the core reasons for the addiction are discovered and the treatment is diverted to the path best suited for the individual.

  • Aftercare

The patient is taught the proper mindset and attitude that will help them to stay away from abuse.  They will use this knowledge after the completion of the treatment. They do this by joining groups, performing exercises, therapies, and going to regular appointments with their doctor.

Acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step to a drug or alcohol rehab

The first step to solving any problem is having the self-realization that you are suffering. In a similar manner, before understanding how rehabs work, a person should understand the need for it.

Admitting that drug addiction is a scary and difficult thing and then focusing on all the positive changes that will come with time.

Factors of self-acknowledgment

  • You should accept that you are no longer able to control your life.
  • Make a determination to bring a change in your life
  • Remember that you cannot do this alone
  • Bear the humility and approach someone for help

Some myths about self-realization are mentioned below. Do not fall prey to these.

  • You need help, that does not mean you are weak.
  • Admitting powerlessness does not mean you must lose your positive attitude. Be courageous and honest to accept the truth.
  • Asking for help is not a bad thing. There are many people that, just like you, are dealing with addiction. Not everyone is strong enough to ask for help, you are.
  • Approaching a rehab center does not affect your image negatively. It is okay to seek the help of a rehab center. It is one way of getting through the bad things happening in your life.  This is a way to approach a positive life.

Some tips to be followed if you are willing to accept help

  • Make a strong decision to quit using drugs
  • Talk to friends and family about it
  • Seek their help and guidance
  • Attend similar groups and social circles
  • Stay away from bad company
  • Do not hesitate to ask for help

Typical substance abuse treatment center services

A typical day at a rehab center involves various therapies, exercises, medications, and other services and amenities.

The services at rehab centers are divided into four categories, namely, core services, complimentary services, nutritional services, and aftercare services.

All rehab centers will provide core services. But, the other types of services are available based on various factors like budget, location, and the quality of the rehab center.

Core Services include:

  • Medication treatment when necessary
  • Detoxification
  • Group meetings
  • Group psychotherapy
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Drug testing and counseling

Based on the expertise of the center, the quality, and the staff, the other three services are provided at rehab centers.

Complementary services provided by rehab centers include:

  • Energy psychology
  • Massage therapy
  • Yoga
  • Reiki
  • Psychodrama
  • Acupuncture
  • Neurofeedback

The complementary therapies often prove to be effective for some people in recovery from addiction.

Nutritional support

Our body and mind are greatly affected by the food we consume. It can directly affect the recovery process as well. The following are the perks of rehab center nutritional support.

  • Daily meals of premium quality
  • Helps to gain nutrients lost in the drug abuse and treatment process
  • Helps to develop good and healthy eating patterns
  • Provides nutritional education
  • Results in no relapse with healthy eating

The aftercare services include:

  • Regular meetings with a counselor, doctors, and therapists
  • Providing individual counseling
  • Self-recovery social group assistance
  • Medications and dietician support

So, what happens in alcohol and drug rehab programs?

This section will give you a complete understanding of how rehabs work in terms of different rehab programs.

Multiple levels of care and supervision are required for different patients.

The first step of any rehab is the complete evaluation of the patient. From the outcome of that evaluation, the appropriate program is suggested.

For patients with serious drug abuse, a detox facility with inpatient or residential programs is suggested. For a patient with a moderate addiction and strong determination to cope with it, outpatient programs are suggested.

Some of the patients are suggested to start with inpatient programs and then to move on to outpatient programs involving weekly appointments.

Throughout the entire process of treatment, patients are evaluated regularly to adjust the rehab program as needed.

Inpatient care programs

This program includes overnight private or shared stays including on-site meals for a particular period of time. Inpatient programs are divided into the following categories.

  • Hospital programs

Hospitals have other departments like surgical, medical, and psychiatric units that take care of addiction treatments as well. They provide detox and rehab services. They are suitable for heavy drug abuse patients.

  • Residential treatment programs

These programs are of short duration. The duration ranges from 2 weeks to one month. Clients stay at the facility and undergo activities including therapies, 12-step meetings, relapse avoidance classes, and more.

It is suitable for patients who need a short term of intensive care and is highly motivated to handle their own aftercare.

  • Long-term residential facilities

The stay of a patient in long term clinics is normally 60-90 days. With a longer stay, patients can be trained to cope with addiction and relapse issues.

The inpatient addiction program designs plan for keeping patients busy from morning to evening. These activities include:

  • Meditation
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Exercise sessions
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Drug abuse education
  • Art and recreational therapies

Benefits of Inpatient programs

  • 24/7 expert monitoring
  • Expert guidance
  • Focus on therapy
  • No distraction
  • A supportive and structured environment
  • Special meals and other facilities

Outpatient care programs

Patients visit this type of center in the day to attend various therapies and activities. The treatment programs can be any of the following.

  • Partial hospitalization programs

This program is anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. Patients have to visit the center every day and attend activities and therapies. It can be considered as the next step after detox. This is a more structured program when compared to other programs.

  • Intensive outpatient programs

The treatment lasts for 2-4 weeks. It is the next step of the residential treatment program. The main intention is to help clients prevent relapse and continue normal living. Patients have to visit the center 3-4 days a week.

  • Regular outpatient programs

This option provides the most freedom to the patients, with no restriction and a bit of structure. It is suitable for highly motivated and less addicted patients. It is also considered an aftercare program.

The benefits of an outpatient program are as follows:

  • Less restriction of constraints
  • Inexpensive
  • More flexible
  • Real-world living and practical recovery services

Typical morning

Following is the schedule of the morning of a typical day at a rehab center.

  • 6:00-7:00- Everyone has to wake up within this period. No one is allowed to sleep after 7:00.
  • 7:00-8:00- Breakfast is taken at a particular place maintaining proper discipline.
  • 8:00-8:30- Cleaning yourself and your room.
  • 8:30-10:00- Group meetings and discussions are held within this period. It is one of the steps of the 12-step facility.
  • 10:00-10:30- Social and break time is given to all. These include bathroom breaks, smoke breaks, eating time, and more.
  • 10:30-11:59- Drug addiction classes and how to cope up with abuse. Problem-solving sessions.

Typical afternoon

Following is the schedule of the typical afternoon that actually explains how rehabs work.

  • 12:00-1:00- Lunch break and relaxation time
  • 1:00-2:30- Group meeting and lecture on sober living and relapse prevention. Important issues like social changes, triggers, family and friends are discussed.
  • 2:30-3:00- Break for bathroom and refreshment
  • 3:00-5:00- Group meetings and lectures on relationships. These will address issues like real-life problems, solutions, family dynamics, health, communication skills, coping skills, toxic things and relationships, and more.

Typical evening

  • 5:00-6:00- Group dinner
  • 6:00-8:00- Personal session with therapist, nurse, counselor, or doctor. The patient is also evaluated during this period.
  • 8:00-9:00- Meeting with an expert outside of the rehab center
  • 9:00- No more activities or plans until the next morning. The patient is free to sleep anytime.

Have more questions? Call to be connected with a substance abuse treatment counselor t 866-579-8780

An alcohol or drug addiction is a serious mental illness that has a lot of consequences if not treated.

So if you notice any signs of addiction for you or a loved one then it is time to get help.

You may have some questions so call to be connected with a professional addiction treatment counselor today for a free consultation at 866-579-8780.

They can help you understand how rehabilitation works for the specific program for you.


  1. Inside Rehab: The Surprising Truth About Addiction Treatment by Anne M. Fletcher.
  2.  Psychiatry Services: Rehab Rounds: Supplementing Supported Employment With Workplace Skills Training by Charles J. Wallace , Ph.D., and Robert Tauber , M.A.
  3. Anthropology & Medicine:  What’s in a rehab? Ethnographic evaluation research in Indigenous Australian residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation centres by Richard Chenhall


Updated on May 21st, 2023