What goes on at a rehab facility?

If you or someone that you love or care about is struggling with drug addiction, it’s important that you seek help at an addiction treatment facility. Drug addiction is dangerous, expensive, and unpleasant - the sooner that you seek a solution, the better.

There are many options for treating drug addiction. Inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, a medical tapering plan, even personal determination and willpower can all be used to help kick drug addiction. The most solid and concrete choices for permanently setting someone on the path to recovery, however, is some form of rehab treatment.

What is a rehab?

Rehab, both inpatient and outpatient, aim to rehabilitate someone with a substance abuse problem by teaching them the skills and techniques necessary to approach life sober.

Inpatient rehab is a program that requires a patient to stay in the treatment facility 24 hours a day until the end of the program. These rehab programs are more intensive than outpatient rehabs and are generally for people who suffer from the most serious of drug addictions.

Inpatient rehab is helpful because it allows patients to have 24 hour medical supervision. This is useful in the case of emergencies, and also because they can be guided through withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal phases.

Outpatient rehab is generally for people who are trying to quit using drugs for the first time, or for people who don’t have very serious addictions to drugs or are addicted to relatively mild drugs like marijuana.

Outpatient rehab allows patients to come and go from the facility at will as long as they attend their scheduled counselling or group therapy sessions. This lets them maintain a school or work schedule and gives them time to see their family and friends. Unfortunately, it also greatly increases the chance of relapse.

What goes on in a rehab treatment?
The actual rehab process is different for everyone, depending on the severity of the addiction, the rehab center itself, and other factors. Regardless, the general rehab treatment should have an itinerary that roughly follows this outline.


The type of drug that a patient has been using

The number of drugs a patient was addicted to

The length of time they’ve been using drugs

Their age, weight, and medical/psychological history

The first thing that you’ll experience in a rehab treatment is an individual assessment. This allows staff at the facility to answer the above questions and determine what sort of treatment will be best for you and your addiction.

After you’ve completed an assessment, you’ll either be given a date that your treatment begins (for inpatient rehab) or given a schedule of counselling sessions, group therapies, or other activities that will constitute your rehab treatment (or outpatient rehab.)

A detox isn’t always necessary, and is actually not very common for people going through outpatient rehab. For inpatient rehab, though, patients may either apply for or be recommended to a medically supervised detox.

Supervised detoxes are put in place for people who will have to go through a withdrawal process before they can start learning the skills and techniques they’ll need to stay sober. Some people can manage withdrawal at home on their own, but people with serious addictions might not be able to make it through withdrawal for a couple reasons.

Relapses are very common during withdrawal. Sometimes the symptoms are so painful and intense that it’s easy to rationalize using just a little bit to kill the uncomfortable symptoms

For withdrawal from drugs like alcohol or benzodiazepines, withdrawal can be so serious that it can kill you by lowering the seizure threshold. In these situations, medical detox is pretty much mandatory.

Counselling and therapy
The bulk of your rehab program will be a combination of counselling and therapy.

Counselling is not as intense or personal as therapy. Counselling might not always be necessary if a patient's mental health record is already known to the staff at the facility. For others, though, counselling can be a good way to ease them into the process of therapy by determining the type of person they are and the sort of therapy they might need.

Counselling can also be used to help a patient set up aftercare, which is the term used for any series of counseling, support, or communications that the patient can rely on after completing the rehab program to help them stay sober.

There are a wide range of therapeutic methods that are used at rehab facilities. One of the most common methods of therapy is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is used at pretty much every major rehab facility.

CBT addresses the underlying factors that lead to drug addiction. Through extensive one-on-one sessions, a therapist will help the recovering addict identify trauma, stresses, anxieties, or other triggers that can directly make somebody want to use drugs, or trigger a behavioural pattern or response that will lead them to using.

By identifying these triggers, CBT can help somebody understand exactly why they use drugs. Whether the root cause is something in the past that traumatized them, something in the present that they are worried about, or any other reason, they are now able to actively work towards resolving the issue.

Many others methods of therapy can be used to help somebody resolve past traumas, cope with anxiety, or develop new behaviours to lessen the chances of using drugs again.

Group therapy
Group therapy is a very popular method to help recovering addicts develop social skills and connect with other people in similar situations. Popular group therapies include Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, the latter of which has been around for more than half a century.

These group therapy sessions are a great way for a recovering addict to express themselves, develop self confidence, and build relationships with other people.

To wrap it up
After the allotted period of time is up (for inpatient) or the scheduled courses and sessions are completed (for outpatient) the program is completed. Except for the aftercare plans set in place during a rehab, the recovering addict has now completed treatment and is off to put their new skills and techniques into use in the real world.