What Happens in Drug and Alcohol Rehab?

The thought of going to rehab can be scary if you’ve never had that experience before. Any new situation can cause discomfort, but when you know what to expect, you can ease some of your anxieties and have a great experience. If you’ve been imagining rehab as a stark, judgemental place, you’ll find that your rehab experience offers a very different scenario. Of course, learning how to recover from a drug addiction will not be an easy process. However, the right rehab can give you the support, understanding, and safety that you need to begin your recovery.

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Evaluation and Check-In

Many rehab experts refer to this phase as “intake.” During intake, the rehab director or a staff member will ask you some questions about your drug use as well as your physical and mental health. You may or may not undergo some medical testing during this process. The questions and tests will help determine whether or not this facility is the right one for you. They also help the staff to tailor your treatment plan to your specific needs. You can also use this opportunity to ask any questions that you might have about the facility. Once you and the staff finish your evaluation, you’ll move into the facility for a period of one to three months.


Next, you’ll need to detox from the substances in your body. When you’ve abused drugs or alcohol for a long time, you’ll have a buildup of those substances in your system. Before you can break your psychological addiction, you’ll need to clear the drugs from your body and recover from your physical dependence. The problem is that detox can be dangerous. Your body has gotten used to the presence of drugs or alcohol. Their sudden absence can cause a shock to your system. Some people even experience medical emergencies such as seizures. When you detox in a rehab facility, medical staff can monitor your condition to prevent and treat these emergencies.

Furthermore, this medical detox can help you manage withdrawal symptoms. Quitting drugs can result in uncomfortable symptoms such as chills and insomnia. The staff can provide medications to help with symptoms. In some cases, the staff will help you slowly taper off your drug of choice rather than removing it all at once. This method is sometimes safer than quitting “cold turkey,” especially for those with an addiction to pain medication.

Please note that not all rehab programs have detox facilities, and not all detox facilities are part of rehab programs. If you detox in a separate facility, your recovery process may occur in a slightly different order than the one presented in this article.

Daily Life

After detox, you’ll participate in daily life at the treatment center. You’ll have a very predictable schedule in a highly structured atmosphere. This kind of structure often provides participants with relief from the anxiety that comes from uncertainty. Your schedule will depend on the rehab facility, but you can generally count on the following activities as part of your day:

  • Individual therapy sessions
  • Group therapy sessions
  • Some form of exercise such as yoga
  • Some time for recreation such as swimming

Some facilities feature additional options depending on the setting and budget. You might have the option of hiking, for instance, or art therapy. Some rehab programs offer therapy sessions for the addicted person’s family members.

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Outpatient Rehab

Of course, most of the above paragraphs describe the inpatient rehab experience, which involves the participants living in the facility. If you choose outpatient rehab, you’ll have a different experience. If you choose outpatient rehab, you’ll live at home instead of at the facility. You’ll report to the program at regularly scheduled times. From there, you’ll participate in many of the same therapies that would have been available to you in inpatient rehab. Note, however, that outpatient programs work best for those with milder drug addictions. Because participants don’t live in the facility, outpatient programs can lack some of the structure that inpatient programs provide. For those with more serious addictions, inpatient rehab provides the best option.


Before you graduate from the rehab program, your therapists should help you develop an aftercare plan. Rehab is only the beginning of a long recovery process, and the program should teach you how to integrate back into society again. You’ll need tools and support to go back to your home life after rehab. Your aftercare plan may involve continued therapy sessions outside of the program. It might also involve group meetings with a 12 Step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Most people who participate in rehab programs return to functioning well in their day-to-day lives afterward.

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Find the Right Rehab

Now that you have a better idea of what happens during rehab, you may want to explore your rehab options. Finding the right program for your needs can seem like an enormous task. Rehab Info is here to help you find the right choice.

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we’ll help you comb through your options to find the right fit. You don’t have to go through this process alone. Call 800-492-QUIT for help right now.
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