Drug Rehab is a Journey Not a Sprint

A drug rehab program usually lasts between 30 to 90 days. However, recovery is a much longer process. It is definitely not a quick 30 day fix. Rather, it is a lifelong process that moves from one phase to the next. Simply put, recovery continues for the remainder of an addict's life. So let's answer the question of how does drug rehab work.

Overcoming the chemical dependence on the drug is just the start of a treatment program. Patients are taught early on that addiction recovery takes a serious commitment to sobriety. This new found commitment to rebuilding one's life must be a long term process.

So How Does Drug Rehab Work?

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Intake is the First Step

During intake, the rehab staff will complete an evaluation about your history of drug use, one's physical and mental health. There may also be some medical testing during this phase of rehab.A determination will be made to ensure the patient is at the right facility. If so, then a treatment plan will be completed.

Detox is the Next Step

Detoxifying the body from the drug is often the first step in the recovery process. It is highly recommended by most experts that detox take place at an inpatient facility. This is to ensure the addict's safety with medical supervision. Trying to detox at home can be quite dangerous depending on the drug involved.

The objective of detox is to free the body of the drug as well as to cope with the associated withdrawal symptoms. If there are any additional health conditions, they will be managed during this time too. Once detox is completed, the goal is to help the person become mentally stronger and prepare for life after rehab with a better support system in place.

Does Detox Have to Take Place at an Inpatient Facility?

Although the detox process is usually completed at an inpatient facility, it can also be done at a hospital, or even an outpatient rehab center. As the human body adjusts to the absence of drugs or alcohol, withdrawal symptoms may occur. These symptoms and possibly even cravings can be very difficult if not impossible to tolerate. Withdrawal from drugs like methadone are especially bad. That is why it is recommended that detox be done with medical assistance. IV fluids, nutritional support, & medications will help you recovery during the withdrawal symptom phase.

Outpatient Rehab Can Be the Best Option Sometimes

Outpatient rehabilitation may be better suited for some people in certain situations such as:

  • The drug involved does not cause difficult withdrawal symptoms
  • The patient is very self motivated to get clean
  • Withdrawal symptoms are not severe
  • Continuing employment is necessary during rehab
  • A strong support system is already in place
  • Inpatient rehab is not available due to financial considerations

Inpatient or residential rehab is the preferred option under the following circumstances:

  • There is a history of complications with withdrawal in the past
  • When serious co-existing medical or psychological issues are involved
  • Certain drugs that cause more difficult withdrawal symptoms.
  • Relapse is likely if returning to an environment of bad influences
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Daily Routine at a Residential Facility

After detox is finished, patients will settle into a daily routine of healthy activities. A schedule is set for each individual that offers structure and predictability. The goal is to create a relaxing environment that allows relief from life's anxieties. Although the schedule depends on what the rehab has to offer, there are certain activities that are typically available such as individual and group therapy sessions as well as exercises such as swimming or yoga.

After Rehab

Before the patient completes the in house portion of the rehab program, therapists will help develop the post rehab plan. The program will teach patients how to integrate successfully back into society. Tools and a strong support system need to be established prior to returning home. Therapy is often part of an effective aftercare program.


We have just answered the question of how does drug rehab work. We reviewed the four main stages of an effective drug rehab program. Although all rehab centers are unique in their own ways, these four phases of rehab are common. Intake, detox, daily life, and after care are the four necessary components of most drug rehab programs.

Finding the right facility for you is what we do best. Let us help you find an affordable rehab program that will work for you.