What Is Drug Rehab?
Rehab, or rehabilitation, is the common name for the place where an addict will receive treatment to help them get sober and live a healthier, happier life. Rehab may also be referred to as a treatment center.
Many people think of rehab as a live-in facility where someone will live for a period of time while overcoming their addiction. While this type of rehab program does exist, there are also several other types of treatment facilities that can provide effective treatment based on your unique situation.
Why Do I Need Rehab?
Dealing with addiction can be a difficult process, especially if you are concerned about your own substance use. But do you really need rehab? What does it mean to have an addiction?
When a substance begins to interfere with your daily life and commitments, it may be time to seek outside help. Substance use causes your body to become dependent on that drug and for many drugs, withdrawals are uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous.
While addiction may not sound like the right fit for what you are experiencing, if you are struggling to quit using a substance or concerned about your habits it may be time to talk to someone about it.
If you ultimately decide that it’s time to quit and seek treatment, there are many different types of facilities and levels of care available.
Choosing the Right Rehab
When an addict makes the decision to get help for their addiction, a healthcare professional will usually begin with a clinical assessment. A substance abuse assessment will examine several aspects of your individual situation, such as:
- Length of addiction
- Mental health needs (past and present)
- Physical health conditions
- Type of addiction
- Family and social needs
- Financial situation
- Current medications
- Previous treatment experiences
The substance abuse assessment will help your healthcare provider design a treatment plan for your recovery. Your custom treatment plan will include a rehab program that will be best for your needs.
Although there are many different types of rehab centers, most offer the same initial drug addiction treatment. When you arrive, you will need to get the rest of the drug out of your system while under medical supervision. This process is known as medical detox.
Medical detox is much safer than quitting abruptly on your own (aka “going cold turkey”) because some withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening without medical intervention.
“Supervised detoxification may prevent potentially life-threatening complications that might appear if the patient were left untreated. At the same time, detoxification is a form of palliative care (reducing the intensity of a disorder) for those who want to become abstinent or who must observe mandatory abstinence as a result of hospitalization or legal involvement.”
—Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
During medical detox, your physical health—such as vitals and organ function—will be closely monitored as your body eliminates the remaining drug(s) from your system. The length of the detox process can vary depending on the type of drug and how much of it you were using.
How Long Does Drug Detox Take?
A general idea of how long your detox process can last is as follows:
- Short-acting opioids (e.g heroin): 4-10 days
- Long-acting opioids (e.g methadone): 10-20 days
- Short-acting benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax): 2-4 weeks or longer
- Long-acting benzodiazepines (e.g. Valium): 2-8 weeks or longer
- Stimulants: 3-5 days
- Alcohol: 2-10 days (the 36-48 hour mark is considered the most severe and dangerous)
Sometimes a medical detox will include MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment). The medication provided during MAT can assist you in getting sober by helping to eliminate cravings or by blocking certain receptors in the brain so that the previous drugs will not have any effect.
Types of Addiction Treatment Centers
Since there is a wide range of rehabilitation centers, people can find a recovery program that is best suited to their situation. For instance, a fully residential program might be ideal for someone struggling with long-term or severe addiction, whereas an outpatient program may be better for an individual with a less severe addiction.
In addition, you may be a parent or guardian seeking a treatment center that specializes in substance use disorder for adolescents. These centers will be more tailored to the needs of a young person, as addiction in adolescents will present different concerns than addiction in a fully developed adult.
Inpatient Treatment Programs
There are two different kinds of inpatient programs where you can receive addiction treatment services.
The types of inpatient treatment centers include:
- Inpatient Treatment
- Residential Treatment
Inpatient Treatment Center
A standard inpatient treatment program will focus on helping you detox and providing medical care for any additional health issues caused by your drug use. This type of program typically takes place in a special wing of a hospital or at a separate medical facility.
An inpatient program is usually reserved for more serious cases of addiction where other health risks are a concern, such as co-occurring disorders or mental illness. It may also be recommended for adolescents who might need such rigid structure and special care in the early stages of their addiction recovery.
Inpatient rehab is much less common these days due to the prevalence of many other program alternatives.
Residential Treatment Center
A more common form of inpatient care is what’s known as residential treatment.
Residential treatment is likely what most people think of when they hear the word “rehab.” This form of inpatient care can last anywhere from 30 days to about a year, and there are usually different phases throughout this kind of program.
During residential treatment, you will begin by going through medical detox (if needed) and may have limited contact with friends and family. As you progress through the residential program you eventually begin to gain more freedoms, such as trips away or being able to return to work while still returning to the center at night.
Outpatient Treatment Programs
There are two major types of outpatient addiction treatment programs.
The outpatient treatment programs that are available are known as:
Partial Hospitalization Program
A Partial Hospitalization Program is also known as “day treatment”.
This type of rehab program may take place in a hospital or a separate clinic where the same level of care can be provided. For a PHP, you will visit the location for roughly 4-8 hours daily but will be allowed to return home at night.
A Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) may be ideal for someone who has a supportive home environment, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The care you receive will be very similar to an inpatient program, but since you are allowed to leave each day the program is considered outpatient.
Intensive Outpatient Program
Similarly, an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) provides support and treatment at a clinic, hospital, or other location. However, it only requires about 9-20 hours of commitment per week. This shorter time requirement means an Intensive Outpatient Program will either be recommended for someone with a less severe substance abuse problem.
IOP may also be recommended after inpatient treatment has been completed to help you maintain your sobriety.
Drug Rehab – Ongoing Treatment
While you are in rehab, you will receive ongoing treatment.
This treatment is designed to help you recover in the short term as well as provide you with tools for relapse prevention so that you can enjoy long-term recovery.
A major focus of treatment during your time in a rehab program will be centered around mental health. Many individuals who struggle with substance abuse disorder also struggle with additional mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Adolescents may also struggle with behavioral issues, ADHD, or other external stressors.
Focusing on mental wellness during rehab increases the chances of both your initial recovery and your ability to avoid addiction in the future.
Drug Rehab – Therapy Treatments
While mental health is still a major focus, different therapy approaches may be used during your time in rehab. The therapy that is provided to you will be based on your needs, any previous mental or behavioral health concerns, and the type of addiction you experienced.
The most common therapy types offered in rehab are:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of individual therapy that focuses on the patient’s patterns in thinking and behavior. This type of therapy is designed to dig into the person’s emotional state to help them create better, healthier patterns–such as facing fears or learning to calm oneself in times of stress.
CBT is especially effective as a treatment for addicts because it can help them develop skills that will encourage them to stay sober and avoid relapse. Often the therapist will provide “homework” to the patient to help them continue developing their coping skills and working through past issues.
Psychotherapy is a more broad term for one-on-one counseling that is focused on talking through emotions, experiences, and issues. While CBT focuses on developing new habits and patterns, psychotherapy as a whole covers more ground and has different approaches.
Group therapy is also very common in rehab. A group therapy session benefits the patient because they can see that they are not alone in their struggles. The group therapy environment can also provide a solid peer support system that can help encourage sobriety in the long term.
Drug Rehab – Medication Treatments
As mentioned above, medication-assisted treatment will sometimes accompany your individual treatment plan. These medications can be used to first help you wean off a stronger, more dangerous drug. Medication can also help you avoid cravings and support you in staying sober throughout rehab.
Opioid treatment programs are a specific type of outpatient care that involves medication-assisted treatment. Because opioid addiction is currently considered an epidemic in the United States, these drug-specific treatment programs are prevalent.
In an opioid treatment program, you will visit a clinic to receive medication (such as methadone or Suboxone) to help you stay sober and avoid using any other illicit or prescription opiate. This program may be recommended to you both during and after rehab, depending on your situation.
The Road to Recovery: What’s After Drug Rehab?
Post-rehab aftercare is usually referred to as recovery. During your recovery, you will continue to focus on maintaining your sobriety.
Recovery is a lifelong process, so there are various options for you to choose from that will help you stay sober after you have left rehab. You may end up using more than one recovery program in your lifetime, depending on where you are in your overall recovery journey.
Recovery Programs Following Drug Rehab
Recovery programs vary in intensity and duration and are designed to help the addict remain sober.
The most common recovery programs include:
A halfway house is a program designed to provide intermediate living between leaving the prison system (for drug-related crimes) or a rehab center and reentering society. As the name suggests, the idea of a halfway house is to help you transition back to living independently while still having some of the structure of prison or rehab.
Living at a halfway house is often a requirement after serving a prison sentence. While residents of halfway houses aren’t only former inmates, this is often the case.
Sober Living Facilities
Sober living is similar to a halfway house, and the two are often confused for one another. Sober living is also a place for recovering addicts to live as they transition from rehab back to independent living. However, a sober living facility often allows you more privacy and often has more amenities than a halfway house.
12-Step Programs & Self-Help Groups
Additionally, 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provide a support system for fellow recovering addicts. The popularity of AA and NA also means that there are meetings in just about every city at all different times of the day. You can find a meeting or support group near you by using our meeting finder tool.
There are also apps available for your smartphone to help you in your recovery journey.
How Do I Get Started?
The first step would be to get a substance abuse assessment from your doctor or another healthcare provider. They will provide you with a treatment plan based on your current situation, which will include recommendations for which type of rehab is best for your level of addiction.
You may also want to get in touch with your insurance provider (or Medicaid) to learn what coverage you have available to you for addiction recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions about Drug Rehab
What should I do before going through rehab?
Before getting started at a rehab center, it is best to make a few preparations.
Planning ahead of time may include:
- Finding childcare
- Making arrangements at your job
- Finding out what you are allowed to bring
- Discussing details with family members and loved ones
Where can I get an assessment for substance use disorder?
An official substance use disorder assessment can only be provided by a physician or licensed healthcare provider. They will assess you for substance use disorder and can come up with a treatment plan that is specific to your situation to increase your chances of recovery.
If you are concerned about your drug or alcohol use and are ready to make a change, we can help direct you to your nearest healthcare provider.
Can you leave rehab after you’ve checked in?
There are different types of rehab centers with various levels of medical care, restrictions, guidelines, and time commitments. Rehab programs can be broken down into inpatient and outpatient treatment, with various options within those two categories.