What to Expect at a Drug & Alcohol Rehab Center

What to Expect at a Drug & Alcohol Rehab Center

Individuals going into rehab to treat a drug or alcohol addiction can have a lot of mixed feelings about the process—fear, animosity, guilt, anger, and more. Inpatient rehabilitation facilities aim to provide the support needed to help patients adopt a sober lifestyle. The rehabilitation process is individual by nature and aims to create treatment plan for patients based on their addiction type and unique needs. Addiction treatment and recovery involves these essential components:

1. Intake
When a patient enters rehab, they are typically met by a certified counselor who will conduct a one-on-one consultation to assess their personal drug history and rehab goals. Counsellors may ask what prompted the individual to start using drugs or alcohol, and if they have any underlying health issues or psychological issues (i.e., depression) in order to assess the severity of the addiction and the optimal course of treatment. After the initial intake assessment, patients typically undergo a complete physical as well as a detox test, which determines recent drug or alcohol usage. Patients who test positive for drugs or alcohol will undergo detox. Those who test negative will check in to a treatment room where a counselor will help them unpack, check all personal belongings for drugs, alcohol, or prohibited items (i.e., over the counter drugs, mouthwash, weapons, electric devices, etc.), and cell phones and all communication devices.

Most rehabilitation centers will expect patients to bring the following personal items:

  • Clean, comfy clothing
  • Alarm clock
  • Personal hygiene items (i.e., toothpaste, toothbrush)
  • Any prescription medications
  • Laundry supplies
  • Prepaid calling cards

Rehab facilities range from resort spas to institutional hospital settings to camps and everything in between. However, all facilities have no locks on the doors to allow patients to stay and commit to treatment or leave as they wish.

2. Detox
Detox isn’t a matter of willpower. In fact, once your body becomes dependant, ceasing drugs and alcohol can be fatal and extremely challenging. Monitored, around-the-clock, inpatient detox in a rehabilitation center or hospital environment aims to manage the physical effects of withdrawal, and can involve administering medications to help soothe symptoms while monitoring physical and mental health. The detox process lasts about a week in length, and side effects are at their worst in the first 24 to 48 hours.

3. Rehabilitation
The rehabilitation process at an addiction clinic is catered to individual needs, but typically involves extensive therapy and support to change drug-seeking behaviors. Most patients are expected to rise early, consume a healthy breakfast, and partake in healthy programs (i.e., yoga, meditation, art or music therapy, group therapy, family therapy, one on one counselling, 12-step programs, etc.) in a therapeutic environment to help patients identify unhealthy patterns and triggers, and develop new, healthy behaviors they can incorporate into their post-treatment routines. Typically, rehab centers focus on educating patients about addiction (i.e., it’s effects on the mind and body) while challenging them to drop all denial and ambivalence towards drugs and alcohol so they can look at their addiction honestly and realistically, and commit to sober living.

4. Ongoing recovery
While completing a 28- or 60-day treatment program is hard work, no one ever totally leaves rehab “cured” of their addiction. The aim of your post-rehab life will be maintaining a sober life as you return to work, family, and a social life that can trigger addictive behaviors. This is why rehab programs offer long-term support and relapse prevention for continued recovery beyond rehab. This can include regular check-ins with a mental health professional, individual therapy, 12-Step meetings (i.e., Alcoholics Anonymous), and other support groups (Self-Management and Recovery Training or SMART).